Originally created 09/22/00

Family-friendly skies



Sinking back into his seat, Ed Johnson gazes out the large picture window at Augusta's Daniel Field. As a pilot and instructor with Augusta Aviation, it is a view he has taken in many times. The runways, aircraft and two large metal hangers have become something of a home to him. On this day, however, it is likely that Mr. Johnson isn't seeing the comings and goings of everyday operation at the airport.

Instead, he may be envisioning a Ferris wheel.

Mr. Johnson is chairman of the board of directors for the Eighth Annual Boshears Memorial Fly-In, which will transform Daniel Field into an aviation epicenter this weekend.

But a Ferris wheel?

"One of the things we've tried to do this year is expand the opportunities for the whole family," Mr. Johnson said. "I mean, those of us that are interested in aviation can sit and watch airplanes for hours on end, but small children and people with only a passing interest can get bored pretty quick. Still, you should have heard the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) when I told them we were going to put a 90-foot carnival ride up at the airport."

The event begins at 5 p.m. today with local recording artist Terri Gibbs (Somebody's Knocking) singing the national anthem with the support of 600-800 children. The air show continues through Sunday.

In keeping with the "family fun" attitude the annual air show has adopted, admission prices have been dropped. Mr. Johnson said the idea behind the new admission price was that selling more tickets at a lower price might actually increase revenue.

"An air show is an expensive thing," he said. "But it doesn't matter if you're doing it for 10 people or 10,000 people, it's still going to cost the same. So we've decided to increase our numbers and concentrate on selling more tickets at a lower price."

With aerobatics, wing-walking, hot-air balloons and a variety of historic and modern aircraft, Mr. Johnson is proud of the variety the air show offers. Still, he said, Boshears has not been able to book some of the marquee acts he would like to see participate.

"Daniel Field, being a general aviation airport, has runways that do not allow for some of the things we would love to bring in," he said. "We'd love to have one of the jet teams. I mean it might be possible to land an F-16 out here, but you might be hard pressed to find somebody willing to try it."

Mr. Johnson said that the logistics of the air show remain a challenge. With safety, crowd control and scheduling at the top of the priority list, it's a task that is no easier today than when the air show started.

"You would think that after eight years we would have this down to a science," Mr. Johnson said. "We're not even close. It's a lot like building custom houses. Every year is different, and every year has unique challenges."

Named for brothers Buster and Forrest Boshears, local aviation pioneers who spent their lives training pilots, the Boshears Memorial Fly-In has always been about more than watching an airplane do barrel rolls over Wrightsboro Road. It serves as a tribute to the brothers and a continuation of their commitment to encouraging those with elevated dreams.

"The main thing we're trying to do is entertain and educate the general public about aviation, especially young people," Mr. Johnson said. "We want to educate them in the possibilities aviation has to offer. We do that to honor the memory and contributions of the Boshears brothers."

On display

What: The Eighth Annual Boshears Memorial Fly-In

When: Today through Sunday

Where: Daniel Field

Admission: $5.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or suhles@hotmail.com.