If this was the final Quad-City Air Show in Davenport, Bob Windt wanted to make the most of it.
The 74-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran has been coming to the air show at the Davenport Municipal Airport for at least the past 20 years.
But he doesn’t just sit back and watch.
Alongside vendor tents and airplane tours, Windt sets up a free station where kids make paper rockets to be launched via homemade science project-esque contraptions.
“It’s one of those yearly traditions,” Windt, who lives in Cordova, said. “I could watch those airplanes and be around these kids all day; I almost don’t want to blink because then it will be over."
As event organizers say the Quad-City Air Show will not be held next year, and may move to another venue in future years, Windt’s tradition will likely be broken.
In April, event president Kenneth Hopper announced the air show would not take to the skies in 2017, because the city of Davenport no longer provided access to a hangar to store the show’s collection of aircrafts at the city-owned airport.
Hopper has said he will consider moving the air show, which draws about 100,000 people over two days, to other Midwest airports.
Hopper, as well as several aldermen contacted Sunday, could not be reached for comment.
So, on Sunday, whether it was their first or 30th visit to the Quad-City Air Show, attendees from near and far wondered: "Will this be the last?"
“This is a big city, and there’s always a big crowd here,” Windt said. “I think we should have it here, and I know a lot of people will be disappointed if it’s not.”
Across the airport’s landing strips, other aviation fans shared that disappointment.
Pat Rheinhart and Maggie Sanquist, volunteers with not-for-profit Marine Moms of the Quad-Cities, have attended the air show since 2005.
Both of their sons serve in the U.S. Marine Corps., and they say the event is “close to their heart.”
“We’re very against it leaving,” Rheinhart said. “This is a place where the military community is supported and those planes that you walk through and see up there are a reminder of freedom.”
“We would be sad if this was it for the show,” Sanquist added. “We want it to be here for the next 30 years.”
Stephen Vander Wert, 25, and his girlfriend, Caitlin Mock, drove about two hours from Pella, Iowa to see the air show for the second year in a row.
"This show attracts the best of the best," Vander Wert, who has his pilot's license, said. "We'd keep coming back year after year if we could."
On the lawn, where thousands of spectators took cover from the sun under tents, hats and umbrellas, a father-and-son duo pointed up at a parachute zipping down to the ground.
Fred Haas, 34, recently moved to Des Moines from Bettendorf, but came back to attend the air show with his dad.
“It’s our thing for bonding,” he said. “We haven’t missed many years.”
Hearing the show wouldn’t be around next year gave the pair an extra incentive to make the trip Sunday.
“The Quad-Cities needs this kind of show... I mean look at how many people are here,” Haas said. “There are not many things like this to do in the summer.”
Without the air show, Windt, a former aeronautical engineer, says he'll keep teaching kids the art of paper rockets. But he'd rather do that here.
“The air show matters because so many kids are playing video games nowadays, and don’t use their creativity,” he said. “When I was a kid, it was build, build, build and now it’s thumb, thumb, thumb.”
When it comes to the construction-paper versions, Windt will admit, nothing compares to the real thing. He wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force, but couldn't pass the vision tests.
"I'm reminded of how much I love those jets when I'm here," he said.
Near the end of Sunday’s show, when the F-16 jets raced across the sky, Windt put his scissors down and told a crowd of kids to look up.
“That's my favorite thing — there’s lots of power and lots of noise with those,” he said. “They sound like music.”