VANDALIA — The Vectren Dayton Air Show has a rich history in the Miami Valley, and across our country.
The event, which began in the 1970s as the Dayton Air Fair, has evolved into one of our country’s premier aviation events.
Hundreds of thousands of aviation fans have traveled to the Dayton International Airport to watch the great Robert A. “Bob” Hoover,” the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, the United States Navy Blue Angels, Sean D. Tucker, the United State Army Golden Knights, and a host of other legendary air acts take to the skies to thrill audiences.
Perhaps the most consistent, and sometimes overlooked, area of the Vectren Dayton Air Show is a pair of very familiar voices. Veteran air show announcers Danny Clisham and Rob Reider have been the voices of the Vectren Dayton Air Show since 2003.
While the aircraft are known for thrilling the crowd, it is Reider and Clisham who describe the intricate maneuvers and provide details about every every aircraft from the Wright B Flier to the F-35, our military’s newest and most sophisticated fighter.
For his part, Clisham, a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., is in his 52nd season working air shows. Clisham grew up with airplanes literally in his back yard and ended up working for an airline. He also worked as a ferry pilot for the legendary Bill Barber.
Clisham’s inauguration into announcing air shows happened when he was standing beside a local TV personality at an air show. The TV personality was announcing the air show, but it quickly became clear that his announcing was limited to “here it comes and there he goes.” When Clisham offered to whisper the maneuvers to the announcer so that he could describe the action, “He took the microphone and stiff-armed it toward me — and left,” Clisham said. “The last thing I saw were the heels of his shoes as he took off toward the social tents — they were beer tents back then.”
“I had preparation and opportunity, and they met that day,” Clisham went on. “Because I always knew that is what I wanted to do.” That was in 1965.
Rob Reider is a familiar name to many area residents. He is a very popular singer and musician who was a regular on “The Ruth Lyons 50-50 Club,” which later became “The Bob Braun Show.”
Reider’s interest in aviation can be traced to his father, who was a World War II aviator candidate.
In 1978, Reider’s band was performing at the Lunken (Cincinnati) Airport Air Show. The air show went as planned on Saturday, but on Sunday, the announcer, a local weatherman, did not show up. “One of the people with the air show came over,” Reider said. “’Can you announce today?’”
Reider responded, “Well, I don’t really want to, but okay.”
In 1979, Reider came to Dayton to be a communicator (announcer) with the late WHIO weatherman Gil Whitney. He later began working with Bill Bordello, the “Voice of the Dayton Air Fair” for many years. Reider recalls that one of the best pieces of advice Bordello gave was “look up,” — it is, after all, an air show.
The team of Danny Clisham and Rob Reider began working the Vectren Dayton Air Show, fittingly, on the centennial of Powered Flight in 2003.
When asked what makes the Dayton Air Show so unique and special, Reider answered simply, “The Wright Brothers.”
Clisham went on to explain, “All pilots have a sense of heritage. We know where we came from. We know who inspired us. We know who opened up the world to us. And it all happened in this town with the Wright Brothers. These are the people who allowed us to get where we are today.”
“This is hallowed ground,” Clisham added.
Both Reider and Clisham announce air shows individually across the country throughout the air show season and are considered to be among the best in the business. Both men have been awarded the ICAS Sword of Excellence, the highest honor given by the International Council of Air Shows, the governing body of air shows across the country.
Dayton is one of two air shows that the Clisham-Reider team work together, the other being AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.
Visitors to the 2017 Vectren Dayton Air Show will not only be privileged to watch some of the world’s best airplanes and aviators in the skies over Dayton, they will feel like they are in the cockpit and learn more about aviation from a pair of announcers who themselves are becoming legends.
Reach Mike Ullery at (937) 451-3335