Air Show Love

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air show love

Air Show Love
One of the unfortunate byproducts of sequestration is the impact it will have on this Summer’s air show season. According the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS), 10s of millions of folks attend air shows annually and it competes as one of the largest outdoor sporting events in the U.S. 

Most of the larger shows use the military to drawn in the big crowds. This year there are no U.S. jet teams flying and I doubt they will even provide static display aircraft. The net effect is less air shows across our great land as promoters cancel fearing big losses. Plus the price to fill up the schedule just went up because the military teams were completely free. It’s a really bad situation for those in this small, family industry. Of course, they don’t have any lobbying power so they won’t get any help in Washington. 
F-18 Hornet Air Show

A lucky shot with my crappy 35mm camera – OKC 1989

The individual sponsors may get nervous too, worried that their advertising dollars won’t reach the huge crowds that frequent the shows. This spells disaster for the performers. With less shows and less sponsorship, our air show industry could be a shell of its former self in a few short years. 
Frankly, I support pulling back on this kind of government spending when we are $16 Trillion in debt (as of this writing and climbing). But I don’t agree that this industry should suffer so the government has money to ship to “friends” overseas and for our own inflated welfare programs and hugely expensive bureaucracies . This really irritates me that my money is being so misappropriated. I could go on-and-on about this, but I’ll save you the rant.

Coors Light SIlver Bullet – BD-5J piloted by Bobby Bishop – OKC 1989

In my youth, air shows provided a huge inspiration as I pursued my goal of becoming a pilot. I have dozens of cherished crappy pictures that were taken with a cheap 35mm camera with no zoom at a little dot trailing smoke. I would come home exhausted, dehydrated and sunburned, but l loved every minute of it! After I got my license, one of my missions was to fly into as many of the regional airshows as I could each Summer. Me and my High School buddies would load up in a rented C-172 and make the day of it – what a blast!

That little BD-5J was just a dot trailing smoke with my “antique” camera – OKC 1989

I fully admit I’m not a big air show attendee these days, but this year I will endeavor to attend more of them in support of the industry. We should all try to make at least one show this year.
I do appreciate that ICAS is trying to make lemons into lemonade in this press release:
“With the national and local media working hard to explain the impact of sequestration, air shows are receiving considerable attention during these first few days of March. Whether it’s national exposure like this widely distributed Associated Press story from Sunday, March 10 or this politically-oriented story from or local coverage like this story in the Atlanta Business Chronicle about the Vidalia Onion Festival Air Show, air shows have fallen into the media spotlight and become an early symbol of the bedlam created by sequestration.” 

At its root, this is an unfortunate development; our industry is receiving this attention specifically because it is being adversely impacted by sequestration. But, as P. T. Barnum, the 19th century American showman and circus owner, observed, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” If you can, turn this attention into increased awareness about your show. Tell the public about all of the aerial entertainment that will be available at your event. Emphasize your dates, location and website URL. Even if your show never expected to receive military support, turn the media’s current interest in air shows into an opportunity to raise awareness about your event in your community. In “normal” circumstances, you would welcome coverage and exposure many weeks before your event, so be sure to take full advantage of that publicity in these not-so-normal times.”

I am really afraid that some of the great acts we have come to enjoy are going to have to find another line of work if this continues next season and beyond. Until then, I’ll break out my sunscreen and look for a nice spot of grass with my eyes pointed skyward.  
See you at the show.

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