The Chennault International Airshow requires no mansplaining.
Women are a leading force for the 2019 Kia of Lake Charles Chennault International Airshow, presented by Phillips 66 — which takes place Friday through Sunday, May 10-12, at Chennault International Airport.
The biennial event is nonprofit, family-friendly project. Proceeds benefit the Airshow’s mission of support and outreach for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) course study and career choices.
People of all ages and backgrounds come to the Airshow by the thousands — and volunteer by the hundreds.
Women get the job done in major capacities — from the planning desk to the performances overhead.
Consider that the Airshow’s executive director is Mary Jo Bayles. She serves a regular role in area aviation, because her day job is manager of DeQuincy Industrial Airpark.
Working with her and Airshow President W. Kevin Melton is an all-volunteer force of people — all of them volunteers, and many of them women:
- Andrea LaFleur is the Airshow treasurer and a longtime member of the Chennault International Airport administrative staff.
- Airshow veterans Pam Doucet, Natalie Graham and Kerri Krob serve on the board of directors — coordinating public relations, performer bookings and marketing efforts, respectively.
- Kelly Smith is the volunteer coordinator — gathering several hundred service group members, retirees, veterans and other aviation enthusiasts to assist with Airhow logistics and services.
- Mallory Wall, president of the Junior League, directs the Airshow’s STEM education outreach — which is the core reason to generate revenue from the show.
- Women are even the winners of the Airshow’s design competition. Two SOWELA Technical Community College students, Jade Higginbotham and Vivian Barrilleaux,, designed the poster and commemorative T-shirt art.
- Add to this mix the local members of The 99s — a longtime international organization for women pilots. Southwest Louisiana’s own Dr. Sandra Leder, an educator who has Life Member status in The 99s and has been an aviation/aerospace advocate for years, is among the members of the 99’s Lake Charles chapter of the 99’s South Central Section who will serve as volunteers at the Airshow’s SASOL Stem Tent.
Fittingly, the Airshow takes place on Mother’s Day weekend — and will have a salute to women in aviation. In that same family-oriented theme, all kids 12 and under are admitted free (general admission).
The headline performers include women as well:
- Nationally acclaimed Jacquie Warda—who flies as “Jacquie B”—will be the first female stunt pilot of her kind to perform at the Airshow. She executes aerobatic feats in a custom Extra 300 monoplane.
- Wing walker Ashley Shelton. She’ll be out on the wing to thrill the crowd.
- Ladies for Liberty. The nostalgic singing trio performs 1940s hits in the style of the Andrews Sisters and offers a medley of patriotic songs.
They’re all part of an Airshow that also features the Air Combat Command F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, the aerobatics of the Phillips 66 Aerostars, a variety of entertainment from the Red Bull aviation teams, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Kids’ Zone, exhibits, and much more.
General admission tickets are $20 in advance at chennaultairshow.com and $24 at the gate. Children 12 get free general admission.
The Airshow opens May 10 with a Friday evening show, with gates opening at 5 p.m. and opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. The shows on May 11 and May 12 (Mother’s Day) will have gates opening at 9 a.m. and the welcoming ceremonies beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Parking is free. Food and drinks will be sold. Premium seating is available.
Proceeds from the Airshow benefit STEM education outreach.
For more information, visit chennaultairshow.com or the Chennault International Airshow page on Facebook.