Originally created 01/09/01

Air show proposal grounded



Augusta officials passed on another offer by the Air Force's Thunderbirds to make an appearance in the Garden City this year.

City officials, airport executives and aviation enthusiasts have decided not to rush an air show for March 31 and April 1, despite the possibility the Thunderbirds could appear, officials announced Monday.

A cancellation in the Thunderbirds' schedule made it possible for the team to perform in Augusta this spring, Mayor Bob Young learned Friday. But after mulling the possibility over the weekend, organizers decided against it.

Earlier, the Thunderbirds had offered to appear Mother's Day, which is in May, but Boshears Skyfest 2001 organizers said the date and proximity to Masters Week proved unworkable.

"There were reservations about the ability to execute a successful event in such a short time frame," Mr. Young said of the Thunderbirds opportunity. "The city is going to forgo the opportunity to allow for a future event in a time frame that will allow adequate planning, staffing and coordination in all aspects involved."

Organizers found themselves in a similar predicament last year, when they learned in January 2000 that the Navy's Blue Angels could appear in Augusta on April 1-2.

The city rushed to organize Skyfest 2000 at Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field, but traffic problems plagued the event.

Just last month, the city decided not to hold a combined air show with organizers of the annual Boshears Fly-in after uncertainty arose about whether a large show could make money. But the two groups have decided to work together again, said Steve Gay, president and owner of Augusta Aviation Inc. and chairman of the Boshears board of directors.

City officials and executives from Bush Field were invited Monday to join the Boshears board, Mr. Gay said. Boshears Skyfest 2001 is scheduled to be held in September or October at Daniel Field, the chairman said.

The group will attempt to hold a larger air show, with a major attraction such as the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds, at Bush Field in 2002, Mr. Gay said Monday.

"Our goal in the future would be to set a date three to four years in advance," he said. "A lot of these acts book years in advance."

Reach Brandon Haddock at (706) 823-3409.