Hillsboro Airport Air Fair celebrates its 20th anniversary in unique fashion

Even in the midst of a pandemic, we couldn’t let the 20th anniversary of the Hillsboro Airport Air Fair pass without a (physically distanced) celebration. 

We normally host an event in October, opening up the airport to the public for several hours on a Saturday. More than 1,200 people attend on average, and they enjoy airfield tours, activities for kids, food and opportunities to connect with the organizations that operate at the airport. 

Knowing that we couldn’t hold the same type of event this year, we abandoned the traditional approach and found a new way to celebrate the major milestone – a free drive-in showing of Academy Award-winning film Coco in both Spanish and English. Thanks to promotions by our partner Centro Cultural, registration for the family-friendly event was filled in hours.  

Before the movie began, there was one more treat in store for the 115 attendees.  

“The public often tells us that they love getting ‘behind the fence’ and catching a glimpse of what happens at Hillsboro Airport. In fact, our airfield tours are one of the most popular elements of the event,” said Jayson Shanafelt, community affairs outreach manager at the Port. “Inspired by this, we created a short video to give people a feel of a day in the life of Hillsboro Airport.” 

There’s a fast-moving shot in the video that gives the illusion of a plane taking off. When that scene played, Jayson heard a young boy behind him loudly proclaim “Whoaaaaa!”  

“Under my breath, I replied, ‘Whoa is right, kid.’ I think that one word made my night.” 

We are grateful that, even during difficult circumstances, we found a way to bring some of the magic of the airport to the local community.  

Fun Facts About HIO 

In addition to 2020 marking the 20th anniversary of our Hillsboro Airport Air Fair, here are 11 other things you might not know about the Hillsboro Airport (HIO), which the Port has operated since 1966. 

1. It’s the second busiest airport in the state after – you guessed it – PDX.  

2. During normal times, HIO averages about 200,000 flights in a 12-month span. Many of these are training flights for aspiring pilots. 

3. HIO is used almost daily for air medic flights, including interstate patient and organ transport

4. Like our general aviation airport in Troutdale, Hillsboro has received numerous animal rescue flights over the years

5. HIO has welcomed a lot of famous guests to the region. In fact, President Barack Obama flew into Hillsboro on the Marine One helicopter in 2011 while visiting and speaking at Intel’s Ronler Acres. 

6. The Portland Trail Blazers flew in and out of HIO in the 1980s and 90s. About 2,000 Blazer fans showed up at the airport in the middle of the night in 1992 to welcome home the Western Conference champions.

7. More than 20 businesses are based at HIO. Several corporate flight departments also sit within our fixed-base operators (FBO). FBOs are businesses granted the right by an airport to operate at the airport and provide services such as fueling, tie-down and parking, aircraft rental, maintenance, and more.

8. Retired commercial airliners (MD-87 aircraft) have been converted to firefighting tankers at the airport. Hillsboro also is a refueling spot for planes used to suppress wildfires. 

9. Our “fuel mushroom” is said to be one of only a handful of such structures at airports around the U.S.  

10. Hillsboro got a new main runway last summer thanks to the work of Kodiak Pacific Construction and strong collaboration with airport partners. 

11. The Port Commission approved the Hillsboro Airport Master Plan in 2019, which recommended a replacement terminal building and exploring additional uses for undeveloped airport land. 

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