Airshow Ops and a Preview of the 2008 Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival with Barb Haluszka

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We continue the annual tradition of calling up Barb Haluszka, the executive director of the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival.

The show takes place at Battle Creek, Michigan (KBTL). The festivities begin on Wednesday, July 2 this year when the amusement park opens at noon and there’s a scheduled balloon ascent at 6:30 p.m. They start burning avgas and JP-8 in earnest on Friday, July 4 and keep it going for three days with such attractions as the Shockwave Jet Truck, Dacy’s Super Stearman and Wingwalking, Oliver’s DeHavilland Super Chipmunk and Skywriting, Skip Stewart’s Biplane, Herb and Ditto’s Smokin’ T-28, The Aerostars three-ship Yak flight, Bill Stein’s Edge 540, military demonstrations, an F-104, an F-15 demo, a P-51 heritage flight, and The Starfighters F-104 demo team.

And the USAF Thunderbirds are headlining the show!

If you are or were at Sun ‘N Fun this year, you probably heard me doing some of the audio production for Sun ‘N Fun Radio. That took a couple of months of preparation and, although very satisfying, was a lot of work. Today, as we do every year, we talk to someone who really knows the meaning of preparation. Barb Haluszka spearheads all aspects of putting together a major air show and has been running at or near full speed essentially since the 2007 show in preparation for this July.

We caught up with her at her office at the airport to talk about preparations for this year, including her trip to the International Council of Air Shows (or “ICAS”) convention, what goes into selecting performers, interactions with the FAA, and more. Let’s go to the interview.

[Interview audio]

I’ll be at Battle Creek again this year along with photographers and Airspeed team members Tim Reed and Dan McNew and I hope to see you there.

And, if you go to an air show this year, take a moment to think about the preparations that go into them. It may be April out there now but, for many professionals and volunteers, June, July, and August and the rest of the airshow season is just around the corner. Be sure to take a moment to thank every airshow organizer and volunteer you meet!

Check out the show’s website at!

Stay tuned to Airspeed in the coming weeks. Airspeed goes retractable this week as I start my check-out at Flight 101 this week in a Cessna 172RG. Then I’m scheduled to train for my multi-engine rating in a 1957 Apache with Traverse Air at its winter home in Cadillac, Michigan April 19-21. The extended weather forecast for this week looks good for the RG training at Pontiac, but dodgy for Cadillac next weekend. In any case, if I get up, so do you as I plug in the MP3 recorder in the back seat and take you along for the ride.

About Steve Tupper

Stephen Force is the superhero alter ego of mild-mannered tech and aviation lawyer, commercial pilot (glider, with private privileges in ASEL, ASES, AMEL, IA, and DC-3 (SIC) type-rated), and Civil Air Patrol lieutenant colonel Steve Tupper. Steve writes, records, and brings you the inside story about everything that really matters in aviation. He's flown with the USAF Thunderbirds, he's and airshow performer and air boss, and he's one of only five pilots ever to earn a FAST card in the glider category. Follow Steve's ongoing quest to do all that is cool in aviation at or on Twitter as @StephenForce.


  1. Steve,
    Great Podcast, along with UCAP, The Finer Points, and Will Hawkins’, I don’t miss a one.
    A couple of comments about the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival:
    I’m a Battle Creek native; went to high school and college in BC, started my flight training there in 1984, and am a veteran (retiree) from the BCANGB (110th FG). I moved from the area in 1987, and currently reside in the DC area. I got my PPL certificate at the now-defunct Quantico MCB Flying Club in 2006 and am working on my IFR rating now.
    I remember attending the Field of Flight Air Show in the early days, and in fact, helped set up some of the mid-field communications and audio lines when I was the commander of the communications flight at the base. The folks there do a great job of organizing and running the show every year, and from this vantage point seem to improve year-over-year.
    What I’d like to see though, is some element of a fly-in added. I’ve been on the BCFFAS&BF website and there is nary a mention of methods to be used for flying in, camping under the wing or other logistical information. We’ve flown in to Sun-n-Fun as volunteers, and camped under the wing and enjoyed staying all week on field. I think if a fly-in aspect were to be added and promoted, this could improve attendance, and along with promotions like your Podcast, serve to increase awareness of this great venue among the pilot community.
    Thanks for your efforts. I know it’s a lot of work and you clearly enjoy doing it. And, I hope the voice gets better.
    C172, 2W5 and OCW

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