Originally created 04/02/00

Blue Angels draw crowd to airport



Although the activity on the ground wasn't perfect, Skyfest 2000 attendees weren't disappointed with the aerial displays, exhibits and activities at the show.

"I think we should have more things like this," said Richard Clayton of Augusta, who brought his 4-year-old son, Drew, to see the Blue Angels. "It would bring up the morale of the city of Augusta."

Those of the estimated 40,000 attendees fortunate enough to avoid the worst of the traffic and arrive early said they enjoyed the various displays of military and experimental civilian aircraft.

"This is a first-time event, and we don't know if we'll ever have it again, so we have to enjoy it," Marisol Screen said.

The children's area, which included a train that took children around the air show's grounds, also was a big hit.

"This is a major event for the Augusta area," said Congressman Charlie Norwood. "I hope this is the first annual air show event for the area. We will only get better at this as time goes on."

A self-proclaimed military buff, Mr. Norwood said air shows such as Skyfest allow the public to see how their tax dollars are used in regard to the military craft that performed and were on display.

Although the exhibits on the ground were popular, the show in the air was the main attraction. The U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team started things off with a formation jump with one soldier carrying the U.S. flag and another holding the Georgia state flag.

Other highlights during the show were a tactical demonstration by a Marine Corps Harrier jump jet, a F-117 Stealth fighter making a three-pass fly-by, and the father-and-son aerobatic team of Jim and Kyle Franklin. The elder Mr. Franklin flew his vintage Waco biplane fitted with a jet engine while his son Kyle walked the wings of the plane, evoking one of the biggest reactions from the crowd during the day.

But there was little doubt whom the vast majority of the crowd came to see when the Blue Angels took to the sky. The squad's six-plane performance of tight formations and solo aerobatics got the crowd on its feet to close out the show.

Many attendees said they would like to see Skyfest become an annual event.

"It came together pretty quickly, and I think if they continue to do it, it will get bigger and better every year," said Randall Eason.

Gates open at 8 a.m. today at Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field for the final Skyfest 2000 show. Traffic will be rerouted off Doug Barnard Parkway onto Lock and Dam Road and taken 2.2 miles to the show's designated parking lot.

The show will be from noon to 4 p.m. Lock and Dam Road will be closed at 2 p.m. in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. Tickets for the event cost $15 for adults, $7 for children ages 7 to 12. Children ages 6 and under are admitted free.

Reach Mark Mathis at (706) 823-3227.

Today's show

Where: Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field

When: Noon to 4 p.m.; Gates open at 8 a.m.; Lock and Dam Road will close at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $15 for adults; $7 for children 7-12; children under 7 are admitted free