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Battle Creek's "Field Of Flight" Takes Off

Leona Larson

While some events continue to be cancelled this summer because of the pandemic, Battle Creek’s “Field of Flight” is taking off on schedule.

Hundreds of people came out to the Battle Creek Executive Airport at Kellogg Field on Wednesday, June 30, for the first night of the five-day event that runs through July 4.

Until 2020, four-year-old Jeffrey, his older brother Tommy, and their cousin Alaina, had never missed the annual event. They were excited to be back this summer.

“Would you’d be brave enough to shoot yourself out of a cannon?,” asked Jeffrey’s grandmother, after Chachi “The Rocketman” Valencia, the “Human Cannonball,” was shot from a cannon.

“When I’m grown-up,” Jeffrey announced, but his nine-year-old cousin Alaina had some reservations. “Why?,” shouted Jeffrey, “you’re almost a teenager!”

The cousins aren’t the only ones excited to be back. Barbara Haluszka has been involved with the “Field of Flight” since its inception in 1980. In 1988 she was appointed its executive director.

"It was horrible having to cancel in 2020 but there was nothing any of us could have done,” Haluzska says. “We had the pandemic and there all kind of health issues that people were running into, so obviously we were all on shutdown for around six months. But we started planning again in October 2020.”

Credit Ihor Balaban / Battle Creek Field of Flight
Battle Creek Field of Flight
US Airforce F22 Raptor at the 2019 Battle Creek airshow

Last year was the first time in its history the event was cancelled. Some other airshows are canceled again this summer. But with more than a million square feet of outdoor space, Haluzska says she's confident and determined to hold the event this year. But she admits that it was touch-and-go up until a few weeks ago.

“We were still at a 1,000 people basically, back at the first part of May, and within a week’s timeframe new directions came out that we were going to at least go 20 percent of what our square footage is. So, it was getting us more to the positive numbers that we need and we just held tight to our guns.”

Haluzska recommends visiting the festival's website for more details on schedules, ticket prices, and safety precautions for those who aren't vaccinated, have compromised immune systems, or have other concerns.

“If you’ve been sick or you’ve traveled out of the country and not feeling well, don’t come,” Haluzska says. “If you don’t feel safe, wear a mask; it’s not managed in any way shape or form. Bring blankets, bring your own cooler. No alcoholic beverages, but you can bring your own cooler. Get ready to picnic on the field, bring your lawn chairs and just have a good time. Social distance if you feel the need.”

The "Field of Flight" runs every day through July 4 with musical entertainment, airshows, a carnival, and fireworks at 10:30 p.m. on July 1 and July 4. Along with the “Human Cannonball”, this year’s event will feature the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team with shows scheduled on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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