The Salute to Veterans Memorial Day Weekend Celebration Airshow has come a long way since 1989. It began with a parade that featured flyovers of two WWII aircraft: a P-51 Mustang and a B-25 Mitchell.

Randy Kirby
Randy Kirby

Prior to that, Memorial Day in Columbia was a small affair at the Courthouse. When Columbia-local Mary McCleary Posner returned to Columbia from a corporate career in New York, she decided something needed to change.

Her father, a WWI veteran who set an altitude record on Armistice Day in 1918 in a Curtiss Jenny, had once told her if she ever figured out a way to say thank you to the men and women who had risked their lives to secure her freedom, that she should do it.

The Salute to Veterans Corporation was founded because of that charge, and while it has grown in size and scope over the years, the mission has never changed. The theme for the show this year is a reminder to everyone of that original purpose – “Three Decades of Honoring and Remembering.” This year is also seeking to double the usual amount of military Honored Guests always headlining the show. Come on out and say thank you to these incredible men and women.

Starring in the airshow this year is the US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II aerial demonstration team, returning from active duty to an airshow schedule for the first time in seven years. The last time this aircraft flew in Columbia was in 2010, just before they were grounded.

It doesn’t stop there – keep your eyes on the skies, Boone County – the show is also welcoming back the US Army Special Operations Command Black Daggers and the Canadian Armed Forces Skyhawks parachute jump teams. They will be performing during the two-day airshow weekend, as well as jumping into the Columbia College R. Marvin Owens Soccer Stadium during the Salute to the Armed Forces Celebration at the end of the Memorial Day Parade.

The spectacular WWII de Havilland Vampire, the T-33 ‘Shooting Star’ jet, the breathtaking two-ship aerobatic performance of the Trojan Phlyers, and the 1948 Skyraider will all be at this year’s anniversary show, thrilling hearts both young and old as they zip across the skies in their tribute to those who served. Hearkening back to Posner’s father, this year’s celebration includes a Curtiss Jenny that is celebrating its 100th year of flight!

If you prefer a more hands-on experience, the P-3 Orion and the enormous P-8 Poseidon (never before seen at this airshow!) will be on display and open for tours throughout the show weekend. Come on out and say thank you with us on May 26 -27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Columbia Regional Airport. Admission and parking are FREE, and open to all.

Parking is limited, so guests are encouraged to use the shuttle buses provided at the MU Trowbridge parking lot in Columbia, or at the Jefferson City Airport. To close the weekend, the organization hosts an annual parade in downtown Columbia on Memorial Day at 10 a.m. For more information and the latest updates, please visit

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