FULLERTON — Even Fred Brandenfels, who had no intention of being around Fullerton Municipal Airport on Saturday for an air show, liked the festivities.
Brandenfels, of Eugene, Ore., had flown here to spend a day at Disneyland, then planned to fly home Saturday. But he was grounded temporarily because planes could not take off during the show.
"I'm here watching the show and my wife is watching her watch," he said. "I say if you have to get stuck and stranded, the best place to do it is at an air show. So, today I'm a happy and frustrated aviator."
He was one of about 18,000 people at the airport watching parachute teams perform precision sky diving and small-scale model airplanes perform aerobatics. "Airport Day 90" also included fly-bys by World War I and World War II vintage aircraft and a visit by the Goodyear blimp. Sponsored by the city and the airport, the show was the third such event held at the site since 1986.
A major attraction was the California Air Show Team, whose members maneuvered miniature airplanes in loops and dogfights by radio control.
"If it can be done with a full-size bird, it can be done with a miniature," air team announcer John Elliot told the crowd.
Miniatures cost between $500 and $3,000, depending on how advanced the model is, Elliot said. Some of the model planes at the show have been used in movies, he added.
"We're trying to provide an air show in miniature since FAA rules won't allow (full-size planes) to perform here," he said.
Larry Wolfe, another Air Show Team member, said: "People consider these as toys. They are not. Sure it's a hobby, but it's also a sport."
Nearly 20 full-size aircraft flew by or into the airport for the show, including a 1917 Fokker triplane, a single-passenger Super Cub, three Marchetti planes used to teach combat fighting and a Spearman biplane with pilot Rick Vargas and Chris Alba performing the "Wing Walker": Alba stood on the top wing strapped to a support frame and waved to the crowd as the aircraft flew by.
Not all the planes were able to make it to the show as planned. Even though it was a warm, sunny day in Fullerton, fog in other cities delayed departures or caused cancellation of flights.
Guests included Robert Gilliland, test pilot of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, considered by aviators to be the fastest plane in the world; Roland Sperry, one of the original "Flying Tigers," and Don Taylor, holder of more than 30 world records for flying experimental aircraft.
Lila Lovell of Huntington Beach said: "I thought it was fantastic. I've never been so close to a blimp before."
Marie Marciel of Fullerton said she had been to every one of the air shows.
"The crowd is bigger this year," she said as she tended to her 9-year-old grandson, Brian Ceballos.
Clad in shorts, a T-shirt and an Air Force cap, Brian played with a toy plane and leafed through an aircraft magazine.
"I like airplanes," he said. "I want to be an Air Force pilot when I grow up. I went to my first show when I was 5 years old."
Vintage, modern and experimental aircraft were on exhibit. In the afternoon, helicopter and airplane rides were also available.
Sponsoring the plane rides were Orange County members of 99s, a group of women aviators.