Photo stories by Ed Anderson

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February 27, 2013

You don't have to be an aviation enthusiast to appreciate the mid-air stunt shows that headline the world's biggest and best air shows. Dozens of such events take place each year around the globe, and we've scoped out the best of the bunch.

Florida International Air Show, Punta Gorda, Fla.

Each year at the end of March, Punta Gorda, FL kicks off air show season with the Florida International Air Show. Both military and civilian aircraft take to the skies to perform death-defying stunts. Back on the ground, visitors can see aircraft dating back to WWII up close.

2013 dates: March 23-24

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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wis.

Oshkosh hosts the largest annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts in the country during the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. With more than 10,000 aircraft in attendance, there's a little bit of everything represented, including warbirds, home-built aircraft, ultralights and vintage planes.

2013 dates: July 29-Aug. 4

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Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In, Lakeland, Fla.

Florida's Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In, another early-season event, invites solo pilots, military stunt teams and aviation exhibitors to Lakeland for plenty of family fun. If you've ever wanted to go up in one of these more eclectic aircraft, this show is a great place to do it.

2013 dates: April 9-14

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Bournemouth Air Festival, Dorset, England

The Bournemouth Air Festival, the largest free annual airshow in Europe, combines two great things: airplanes and the beach. The four-day festival draws over a million spectators for its aerial shows, hot air balloon rides and fun in the sun.

2013 dates: Aug. 29 - Sept. 1

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Tannkosh in Tannheim, Germany

While nothing in Europe can really compare to AirVenture Oshkosh in terms of size, Tannkosh in Germany is the closest, with more than 1,000 private pilots attending. In addition to the vintage aircraft you'll often see in the air, many spectators have started showing up in their vintage automobiles and motorcycles as well.

2013 dates: Aug. 23-25

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Royal International Air Tattoo, Gloucestershire, England

If military aircraft interests you, then the Royal International Air Tattoo should top your list of must-see events. As the largest all-military air show in the world, RIAT includes in-air performances, two miles of stationary aircraft to check out and interactive activities for visitors of all ages.

2013 dates: July 20-21

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Reno Air Races, Reno, Nev.

While the annual Reno Air Races in Reno, NV every September has its fair share of airplane acrobatics, the real reason pilots come back year after year is for the racing. Six classes of aircraft go head to head on 3- to 8-mile race courses in the sky.

2013 dates: Sep. 11-15

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Miramar Air Show, San Diego

Each September, pilots take to the very same skies where the American classic Top Gun was filmed at the Miramar Air Show in San Diego. It's the largest military show in the United States, and spectators are treated to a performance by the Blue Angels each and every year.

2013 dates: Oct. 4-6

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Abbotsford Airshow, Abbotsford, Canada

As Canada's largest air show, the Abbotsford Airshow attracts more than 125,000 spectators to watch dozens of performers take to the skies, including the Canadian Snowbirds, SkyHawks (parachuting team), Thunderbirds and Blue Angels.

2013 dates: Aug. 9-11

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Great Tennessee Air Show, Smyrna, Tenn.

For two days each July, air performers fill the sky above Smyrna, Tenn. at the Great Tennessee Air Show. Get up close to some pretty cool planes in the static area between solo and team stunt shows in the skies.

*2014* dates: June 14-15

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Photos and Commentary by Ed Anderson