Originally created 12/16/00

Organizers consider another air show

Ed Johnson, chairman of the last two Boshears Memorial Fly-Ins at Daniel Field, said he and other organizers will meet in early January to decide whether to put together an air show of their own now that the Boshears Skyfest 2001 is canceled.

"This puts us a little bit behind the curve," Mr. Johnson said in a telephone interview Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the Augusta Aviation Commission heeded the advice of interim airport director Tim Weegar and postponed Boshears Skyfest 2001 until 2002.

"If we do it, we will have to scramble a little bit," Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Johnson said Mr. Weegar telephoned him Tuesday to let him know he was thinking of canceling plans for an October 2001 air show at Augusta Regional Airport.

Mr. Weegar made his decision after he and Mayoral Assistant Mark Gibbons returned from a trip last week to the International Council of Airshows in Las Vegas with no military jet team committed to an October air show in Augusta.

"If they wait to get a jet team before they set a date for an air show, we're always going to be behind the eight ball," Mr. Johnson said.

Citing the lack of a major draw - The Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds both said they couldn't come to Augusta in 2001 - and the need for infrastructure improvements on the roads around Bush Field, Mr. Weegar told the aviation commission a 2001 air show would not be doable.

Mr. Johnson said Friday he is not upset with Mr. Weegar or the aviation commission for making its decision, but he did say he wished they had made their decision a little sooner.

"Waiting until December has kind of put us in a little lurch," he said. "Typically, a city has 18 months to plan an airshow. If they (the aviation commission and Boshears Skyfest 2002 organizers) wait until May or June to start planning, we'll be in this same boat next year."

Although he and Mr. Weegar had talked several times in the past few months, there had been no formal meetings for a 2001 Skyfest, Mr. Johnson said.

"The odds of getting a jet team in back to back years is very, very slim," Mr. Johnson said. "I'll be honest, getting a jet team every two years is a long shot."

"Up until now, I had my fingers crossed, hoping maybe somebody's got some political pull that I don't know about and we will get a jet team," Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Johnson said at their meeting in January, the organizers of Boshears Memorial Fly-In will decide if and how to put on their show. "Maybe we'll just have an aviation appreciation weekend or something," he said.

Reach Justin Martin at (706) 823-3552.


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