One of the most exciting events on the Mankato calendar, especially since it doesn’t happen every year, is when the Air Show comes to town. Good news! It’s on for 2019! The Minnesota Air Spectacular is scheduled for June 15th and 16th at the Mankato Regional Airport.

Mankato’s Air Shows

Duluth is the only Minnesota location able to pull off an annual show. Cambridge, Vernon Center, Hibbing and International Falls have hosted at least one airshow apiece. Minneapolis, Rochester and Worthington have each hosted a few. Mankato has done well with more than a few under our belt with sponsors including the City of Mankato, Minnesota Air Spectacular, Taylor Corporation, and Verizon Wireless Center.

The most memorable show for me was in 1975 and featured the Navy Blue Angels flying the A-4E Skyhawk II, or “jump jet” as it was sometimes known.

Most airshows on the circuit feature either the Air Force Thunderbirds or Navy Blue Angels as the headliner with the big show in OshKosh being a notable exception. In 2012 Mankato’s headline act was the Blue Angels. In 2015 and now again in 2019 the show will feature the Thunderbirds.

2012 and 2019 share another similarity, Julie Clark, in her “Free Spirit” T-34 Mentor aircraft. 2019 will be her 39th and last year on the airshow circuit with Julie having logged over 33,000 accident-free hours in the air.

2012 saw Minnesota-born Lieutenant Colonel John Klatt, USAF Retired, performing for the Air National Guard in a Panzl S330 Extra aircraft. This year we will see him flying for Jack Links in the “Sasquatch Jet Waco,” a somewhat bizarre yet thrilling experience. It sounds like a bi-plane with the added roar and whistle of a jet turbine as it comes roaring down from a climb, significantly outperforming a conventional propeller powered plane.

2019’s show will also include “Shockwave,” the world’s fastest jet powered truck driven by Neal Darnell and Kent Pietsch performing in his Jelly Belly sponsored Interstate Cadet aircraft.

There will, as always, be various display aircraft on the ground. The included photos will give you a good sampling of aircraft from previous Mankato shows including

  • Navy F/A-18 Hornet
  • T-45 Goshawk Navy trainer
  • T-6 Texan II (turboprop) trainer
  • Navy EP-3 Orion electronic surveillance aircraft. This is the same aircraft flown by Shane Osborn, author of “Born to Fly,” which is an interesting read.

I hope you enjoy this gallery of my photos from the 2012 and 2015 shows.


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2012 Mankato Air Show

Thursday, June 7, 2012 – Practice Day

Photo by Rick Pepper - 2012 Mankato Air Show - Practice day. Blue Angel #7 is used for PR purposes like giving newspaper photographers a ride, and as a spare aircraft.
Photo by Rick Pepper – 2012 Mankato Air Show – Practice day. Blue Angel #7 is used for PR purposes like giving newspaper photographers a ride, and as a spare aircraft.
Photo by Rick Pepper - 2012 Mankato Air Show - Blue Angel #7 on practice day
Photo by Rick Pepper – 2012 Mankato Air Show – Blue Angel #7 on practice day

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Photo by Rick Pepper - 2012 Mankato Air Show - Blue Angel #1 directly overhead
Photo by Rick Pepper – 2012 Mankato Air Show – Blue Angel #1 directly overhead
Photo by Rick Pepper - 2012 Mankato Air Show - Blue Angels in the Delta formation
Photo by Rick Pepper – 2012 Mankato Air Show – Blue Angels in the Delta formation
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Rick Pepper
A life-long Mankato native Rick's current distraction of choice is photography. He especially enjoys event photography - capturing life's moments - and gets plenty of practice at his children's sporting events. He enjoys other media including live sound production and recording. He serves as a sound tech at his church.