COLUMBIA —A World War II P-51D Mustang “Gunfighter” returned to Columbia skies for a "Quarter Century Celebration" Saturday at the Salute to Veterans air show.
The aircraft, piloted by Larry Lumpkin, is one of the two aircraft that took part in the very first Salute to Veterans parade in 1989. Both aircraft were at the air show, held at the Columbia Regional Airport, on Saturday.
9 a.m. Shuttle service begins at Hearnes Center parking lot in Columbia or Jefferson City airport.
9:30 a.m. Air show opens
Events include a Kansas City Dawn Patrol flight, parachute team jumps, a 21-gun salute and a salute to the nation solemn ceremony.
3:30 p.m. Flying events conclude; air show closes
9:55 a.m. Salute to Veterans Parade, downtown Columbia
U.S. All Veteran Parachute Team will jump into four intersections on Broadway.
10:45 a.m. Military ceremony at Boone County Courthouse Veterans Memorial, 705 E. Walnut St.
Columbia Community Band will perform; wreaths will be placed.
Lumpkin was in the Air Force from 1973 until 1977 and worked as an electronic technician. In 1978, he began flying planes and is now a pilot for United Airlines. He began flying in air shows 12 years ago.
“I grew up in southeast Arkansas watching crop dusters; that was my inspiration,” Lumpkin said.
Lumpkin's plane is owned by the Commemorative Air Force and is kept at a hangar at the Great Plains Wing in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
“Education is a big part of our goal and mission in the CAF and we do (that) with these airplanes and talking to people,” Lumpkin said.
This year's show began at about an hour and a half later than scheduled because of a morning thunderstorm. Because of the thunder and lightning, the parachute teams did not perform and the show stuck to an abbreviated schedule. The parachuters will jump Sunday and at Monday's parade downtown.
“Those guys want to jump no matter what,” Salute to Veterans Chairwoman Mary McCleary Posner said.
In the celebration's 25 years, the only canceled day of flying was in 2008 and the show continued as scheduled the next day.
“(The weather) is the only thing I can’t control,” Posner said.
Posner originally established the yearly celebration to raise money for the Korean War Veterans Memorial. It has continued with the help of volunteers.
Over the years, money raised at the event has funded different things. In 1992, funds went toward a memorial at the Boone County Courthouse for two men who died in Operation Desert Storm. In 1996, the money went toward a new World War I Doughboy statue.
The air show will continue from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. A parade will begin at 9:55 a.m. Monday in downtown Columbia.
Supervising editor is Katie Moritz.