1988 - 2002:
Many decades of air shows have been hosted at the Hillsboro Airport. The current Oregon International Air Show beginnings started in 1987 & 1988 when it was part of the Portland Rose Festival.
Jim Osbourne - former Navy pilot & chairman of the Rose Festival Navy Committee - envisioned a full-scale air show as part of the Portland Rose Festival. After the Rose Festival Association gave him the green light, he rounded up the top aerobatic acts in the country and enlisted the help of the U.S. Navy Recruiting to request the Blue Angels to headline the first show in 1988. Originally, the show was only a two-day public event (Saturday and Sunday only) with Friday being the exclusive “Arrival Day” where children with disabilities and their chaperones could see and meet the performers as they arrived.
The June 1989 event drew approximately 125,000 spectators. The show featured an Oregon National Guard F-4 Phantom five-ship demo as a farewell tribute to the F-4’s service in the Guard. The F-4s were replaced by the F-15s later that year.
The 1992 show included both the Blue Angels and the Russian Knights in SU-27 fighter jets. The Russian air show team also featured the Russian Parachute Team, an SU-26, and a Yak-55 monoplane. This show marked the first time in post-Cold War history that a former-Soviet flight team performed in the United States.
On November 19, 2002, the Portland Rose Festival Air Show officially cancelled the Air Show for the upcoming year.
2003 - 2014:
Two months after the Portland Rose Festival Air Show was officially cancelled, a couple of former Rose Festival committee members continued the show and formed a nonprofit organization under the name, “Oregon International Air Show.”
On September 20 & 21, 2003, the first Oregon International Air Show - as a nonprofit - took place at the Hillsboro Airport, celebrating 100 years marking the Wright Brothers’ first controlled & sustained flight.
In 2004, Oregon Air Show president, Judy Willey, and executive, Don McCoun, added Friday evening to the two-day public event, sporting Friday as a twilight show. That year, the Oregon Air Show donated over $88,000 to local charities.
The Blue Angels were scheduled to perform at the 2013 show. Unfortunately, the sequester resulted in the cancellation of Blue Angels performances. Instead, the Patriots Jet Team served as the replacement headliner for the 2013 show. The Blue Angels returned to the Oregon Air Show two years later.
2014 - Now:
In late 2014, president Judy Willey stepped down. Bill Braack - then the Air Show Director of Operations - stepped into her role.
In 2016, the Breitling Jet Team took to the skies at the Oregon Air Show for the first time in Oregon Air Show history.
Because of runway construction at the Hillsboro Airport, the air show moved to a different venue for the 2019 show. It held the show at the McMinnville Municipal Airport. This was the first time the Oregon Air Show held their event at a different airport. In that same year, the Royal Air Force Red Arrows performed at the Saturday show for the first time in Oregon Air Show history as a part of their first North American Tour in more than a decade.
Due to COVID-19 concerns and restrictions, the Oregon Air Show cancelled the 2020 show - scheduled for September 25–27 at the McMinnville Municipal Airport. It was the first time in Oregon Air Show history that the show was cancelled.
In 2021, the Oregon Air Show planned to produce two shows. The first show was to be at the Hillsboro Airport from May 21-23, 2021, but was deferred to 2022 due to COVID-19 concerns and restrictions.
The second show - held in a Drive-In format - was held at the McMinnville Municipal Airport on July 30 - August 1, 2021. The Drive-In was the first of its kind in Oregon Air Show history.
In 2022, the Oregon Air Show produced two shows in its history. On May 20-22nd, 2022, the Oregon Air Show featured the first all-female air show in modern history. The F-35A Demo Team, F-16 Viper Demo, and F/A-18E/F Rhino Demo Team, as well as civilian pilots & performers like Vicky Benzing, Anna Serbinenko, and Misty Blues, headlined the show.
In August - less than three months after the Hillsboro show - we kicked off the Oregon International Air Show in McMinnville, headlined by the USAF Thunderbirds and the USAF F-35A Lightning II Demo Team. We were able to return our seating and grounds to a traditional format, but also - by popular demand - brought back a Drive-In option.
In 2023, the United States Navy Blue Angels will return to Oregon after an eight year hiatus.