Showing off: Performers put planes on display at Air Fiesta

BROWNSVILLE — Performer Aaron Taylor learned to fly when he was 14, working for a guy at an airport.

Instead of being paid in cash, he was paid in flying lessons.

“I had just a handful of lessons before I took the controls. It was very exciting to actually handle the airplane, and it was just hooked at first sight,” Taylor said.

Taylor is a full-time pilot from out of town, but he tries to make time to perform at air shows around Texas.

The first show he does every year is Air Fiesta in Brownsville.

He took to the skies with about 19 other performers yesterday afternoon, doing all sorts of stunts in a variety of aircraft.

“Air Fiesta is very special in that there is nothing like it south of San Antonio,” Airshow Chairman David Hughston said. “It’s a good opportunity for people to see something up-close and personal that they would normally only see in the movies.”

It is an educational event for children and shows them the possibilities of aviation, Hughston said.

Before and during each aircraft’s flight, an announcer gives the details of its make, its history and its purpose.

Taylor flew a T6, but other pilots showcased planes such as the B-25 “Devil Dog,” the MiG-17 and the Pitts Special.

Brownsville resident Carlos Garza had not been to the air show for 10 years, but he wanted to come back so he could show his wife, Isela, and their son, Isaac, something new.

“It’s a great opportunity that we have here in town and a great place to bring the kids, so they can know a little bit about history,” Garza said. “It’s quite a show.”

Air Fiesta is the Commemorative Air Force Museum’s chief fundraiser. It is organized completely by volunteers, Hughston said.

The proceeds keep the museum operational and its aircraft flying.

“We grew up going to the big air shows in Harlingen, and I think that’s how we all got into it. We can’t seem to get away from it,” Hughston said.

The show continues this afternoon. The gates open at 9 a.m. Tickets are $12, plus a $1.65 fee. Children under 12 get in for free.