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Get to the chopper!

6th annual Festival of Flight kicks off Long Beach Airport’s 95th anniversary.

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Get to the chopper!

A family lands after taking a helicopter tour at the Festival of Flight Nov. 17.

A family lands after taking a helicopter tour at the Festival of Flight Nov. 17.

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

A family lands after taking a helicopter tour at the Festival of Flight Nov. 17.

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

A family lands after taking a helicopter tour at the Festival of Flight Nov. 17.

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Thousands attended the sixth annual Festival of Flight Nov. 17 at the Long Beach Airport (LGB). The festivities also celebrated a milestone for LGB– its 95th anniversary.

Guests were able to tour stationed planes and sit inside the cockpits of helicopters with pilots. Aircrafts on display included a Gulfstream G650 jet, World War II warbirds and helicopters from the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD), California Coast Guard, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol. There was also an extensive display of antique cars from the 1930s.

Attendees waited more than two hours to tour the biggest exhibition on display– a C-17, a military-transport aircraft used in the United States Air Force and first launched in 1991 from the McDonnell Douglas’s plant in Long Beach.

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune
Attendees wait in line to tour a C-17 military aircraft at the Festival of Flight Nov. 17. The C-17 was formerly produced in Long Beach.

Alan Partidge, a C-17 pilot, spoke with the Signal Tribune about the experience required to fly the 174-foot aircraft.

“It’s continuous training with a lot of plateaus,” Partidge said. “It takes four months to learn how to fly, then another two years to be able to become a co-pilot, where you hit a plateau and stay there for a while to gain experience. Then you go back to the training base, which is in Oklahoma, where you can finally become an aircraft commander. After a couple of years and another plateau, you can become an instructor pilot.”

Staff Sgt. Albert Lomeli, a mechanic on the C-17, also described his own learning experience.

“I went to bootcamp first, and after I went to a two-part tech school, specifically for the C-17,” he said. “After around six months of training, you can become an apprentice. Two to three more years, you can become a journeyman and, after about five-and-a-half years, you can reach the top level, which is a craftsman.”

Anthelion Helicopters provided 15-minute helicopter tours at a cost of $50 per person. The route featured a roundtrip to the Queen Mary from LGB.

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune
At the Festival of Flight Nov. 17, Kids painted on “DJ,” a Cessna 182S Skylane, which, for $5, children were allowed to illustrate on as part of a fundraiser from SafeLaunch, an organization dedicated to preventing drug addiction.

Festival attendee, Nate, who flew with his wife and two small children on the helicopter said, “It was awesome. It was our first time flying.”

The Flores family, who also took a helicopter ride, joked that it was, “Terrifying. No, I’m just kidding. We weren’t nervous; we’ve been on a plane before. This one was screaming, but we had fun.”

A popular plane amongst kids was “DJ,” a Cessna 182S Skylane, which, for $5, children were allowed to paint on as part of a fundraiser for SafeLaunch, an organization dedicated to preventing drug addiction.

Live entertainment was provided by the Long Beach City College Jazz Combo, The Satin Dollz and Knight Ryder.

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