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Gator Fly-In returns to Gainesville for Armed Services Day

Up up and away. This weekend, it was time for the Gator Fly-In and Armed Services Appreciation Day.

This event honors all branches of the military.

Members of the media got a chance to fly in the clouds above The Swamp.It’s a day meant to commemorate the sacrifice of those in the military and show off Gainesville Regional Airport.

Pilots from across the region come to Gainesville to show off their aircraft.

Commemorative Air Force Col. Jim Dalton brought his T-34 B “Mentor” to Gainesville for people to take a ride.

"We try and inspire young people to get involved in aviation and in the preservation of these airplanes and taking care of them,” he said, “We are sort of like a flying museum.”

So the retired Marine Corp Lieutenant Colonel took WUFT’s Chris Will on his restored nearly 70-year-old aircraft and flew him across town — up and down in about 20 minutes.

But this year’s fly-in is about more than just the planes and the party.

It is dedicated to the legacy of Col. Joseph Kittinger who passed away at the end of 2022 at 94 years old.

“He loved coming to Gainesville,” Gainesville Regional Airport Public Relations Manager Erin Porter said, “He had great Gainesville stories and bleeds orange and blue.”

Kittinger was a prisoner of war, a Purple Heart recipient, a UF Alumnus and a world record holder for the highest skydive.

He was remembered as this year’s Gator Fly-In Honoree.

Christopher is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing