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may 05 2009

This weekend: Fly high in Branson, Mo., with a new airport and air show

The Thunderbirds will perform high-flying stunts in Branson this weekend (Courtesy Branson Air Show)
Branson Airport will open Monday with a 7,140-foot runway and a terminal with four gates (Courtesy Branson Airport)

Branson, Mo., receives 8 million visitors a year, who are drawn to its more than 50 theaters and 100 live shows. But getting there isn't easy. Located in southern Missouri, Branson's closest airport has been Springfield, Mo.—about an hour away.

Thankfully, on Monday, a $155-million airport opens in Branson. (Fun fact: It's the first commercial airport in the country to be financed, built, and operated privately.)

To celebrate, Branson is hosting its first-ever air show, with performances by the elite U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, a collection of F-16s whose pilots execute 30 high-flying maneuvers in one show—including a six-plane formation that's so close you'll hold your breath.

The US Army Golden Knights and the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, among many others, will also perform. The show starts Friday night, with events scheduled through Sunday. Besides fantastic displays of aerial wizardry in the sky, there will also be historic aircraft on display.

The Branson Airport officially opens on Monday, with a 7,140-foot runway and a terminal with four gates. AirTran and Sun Country will provide service from cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Milwaukee (Airfarewatchdog.com spotted a $129 round-trip flight between Dallas and Branson). Read more about the airport on msnbc.com.

For more info on all of Branson's year-round shows and activities, visit its official website.

Tickets to the air show are $18 for adults at the gate and $6 for kids 6-12 (kids under 6 free).

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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