Field of Flight 101: Everything you need to have fun

Battle Creek’s biggest festival celebrates flight – whether it’s hot air balloons, jet planes, kites, Ferris wheels or fireworks. 

New to the event? Then here are some tips. 

The schedule 

Field of Flight lasts from June 29 to July 4 and each day has a different flavor. If you want to see the F-22 Raptor Jet and fireworks, go July 1 or July 4. If the carnival is your #1 priority, go on June 29, when admission is free. If you want to see something original, the night show with pyrotechnics is June 30. Check the full schedule here. 

Free day 

June 29 is a great day to bring the kids. Admission is free and parking is $10 per car. The carnival is open, there’s a balloon illume and activities for families. Kids can sign up for a bike giveaway. 

The circus and giant kites 

Victoria Circus is sending people into the air without airplanes or balloons — catch motorcycle stunts and high-wire acts. Great American Kites will put on a rainbow celebration with some of the biggest kites in America. Maybe you’ll spot Clifford the Big Red Dog or floating whales. 

Best photos 

Anyone with a camera phone can get amazing pics during any of the hot air balloon events. The balloons are scheduled to either launch or land at the airport every night at 7 p.m. It’s a whimsical moment, when the balloons float overhead, close enough for everyone to wave to the pilots. 

This may seem obvious, but the balloon events do depend on the weather and how much wind there is. The illume nights, however, don’t require a launch. Balloons are tethered to the ground and as the sky grows dark, the balloons light up with bursts of fire. 

What is the F-22 Raptor Jet? 

The headliner of this year’s air show is the F-22 Raptor. This prized jet can easily reach supersonic speed and has stealth technology. The F-22 will be piloted by Captain Samuel “RaZZ” Larson, the commander of the team. Captain Larson is a 2015 graduate of the US Air Force Academy. 

If old airplanes are your thing, then make sure to attend the air show on July 1 or 2, because the A-10 Thunderbolt II — aka the “Warthog” — will join Captain Larson for a heritage flight. The Warthog used to fly over Battle Creek in the ’90s when it was used by the local Air National Guard Base. 

There are four days to catch the air show, which also includes aerobatic performances, skydiving and a wall of fire. 

Bring seating 

The festival takes place at an airport, so bring your own chairs. But don’t stop at the lawn chair – we see beach tents, sun umbrellas, and once even a portable hammock stand. There’s no shade in the field, so do what you can to keep cool. 

Speaking of cool, coolers are allowed as long as they don’t contain glass or alcohol. 

Treat yourself 

There will be a lot of delicious fair food to indulge in, so pace yourself. Maybe start with cotton candy, move to BBQ ribs and tacos, cool off with shaved ice and lemon shake-ups, load up on Saratoga fries or fried cheese on a stick, then finish the night with an elephant ear. 

Parking tips 

Exact change is needed for parking and no cards will be accepted at the admission gate – but they do have an ATM if you forget. Here are more guidelines. 

The parking areas are marked with signs, so take a picture of the sign closest to your vehicle. It’ll make it easier to find your parking spot at the end of the day, when it gets dark.