Thousands come out to kick off for Stuart Air Show

STUART, Fla. -- The annual Stuart Air Show kicked off Friday, bringing out several thousand guests for a preview of what's in store for the weekend.

Gates opened around 5 p.m., and shortly after, trick planes took tests runs, getting ready for bigger shows on Saturday and Sunday.

Organizers have been preparing for this year's air show for nearly a year. The sequestration at the beginning of the year had some organizers worried about the success of the air show this year.

Instead, they say it ended up being a blessing. It opened up room in their budget for acts they originally couldn't afford.

F-16s are among the planes that will not be seen this year. But hot air balloon rides, military helicopter rides, and dozens of new display planes will be new attractions this year.

Old classics, however, are still making a strong come back. Bob Boswell with Valiant Air Command was part of a crew that brought a plane to the show used in the Normandy Invasion. They've brought the plane to the air show for decades.

Many veterans come to see the planes they once flew in battle.

"They come and they look at this airplane and they almost tear up. They say that's the airplane I flew out of when I went into this battle or that battle," Boswell said.

Another veteran got the chance to sit in a tank, much like the one he sat in nearly 70 years ago during the Battle of the Bulge.

At 94-years-old, it took a little extra help to get Thomas Ackley back inside the tank. He thought he'd never sit in one again. Once inside, he said it  brought back old memories.

"I relived what I went through almost every week of the year, I look back on what I went through. It seems like yesterday," Ackley said.

Gates open again at 9 a.m. Saturday.

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