No Cape air show for second straight year

Thursday, March 1, 2012
In this file photo, siblings Tanner Mitchell, 3, and Shaunna Mitchell, 6, kept track of Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival's Skip Stewart while perched atop their red Radio Flyer wagon on Saturday, July 7, 2007. (Kit Doyle)

Since its first year in 1998, the air show has been canceled three times and never in back-to-back years.

Make it a fourth. And for the second straight summer.

The Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival will not take place this year, with organizers blaming a time crunch caused by the consideration of expanding the air show's focus.

The Cape Girardeau Regional Airport Advisory Board voted unanimously Wednesday to cancel the air show this year, which had been tentatively planned for late June.

"The feasibility of putting on a quality show and the time constraints that we have to produce that kind of show for June 28 doesn't sound like it's a viable option for us," board chairman Craig Bohnsack said during the lunch-hour meeting.

But the board did commit to having a public event later this year at the airport. The board pledged to host an aviation day, likely this fall, to include aviation history and "hands-on" experience for the public. Educational components could include information about aviation history, flight training, aviation careers and other applications.

The event could also include helicopter and airplane rides, simulators and an opportunity to see and touch airplanes.

Adding those elements to a traditional air show for this year is what caused time to get away from them, said airport manager Bruce Loy. But, just as organizers did last year when the event was canceled because of difficulty booking performers, Loy said he was confident the air show would return in 2013.

"The bottom line is we didn't feel like we could put on the quality of event that people were used to us doing," Loy said. "Rather than putting on a substandard show, we'd prefer to wait."

Finances are always a factor, too, Loy said. An air show typically costs between $125,000 and $150,000. Some of the money comes from the airport budget, but in 2010 the show brought in $80,000 from sponsorships and ticket sales.

The show was canceled in 2002 because of economic hardships, in 2009 because of a slow economy and again last year.

But Loy said he believes the wait will be worth it. Planning has already begun on the air show for next year. Some ideas for the event, in addition to implementing the aviation day to the festival next year, include helicopter aerobatics, military jet demonstrations, the Golden Knights parachute team and fireworks.

Loy wouldn't even rule out the possibility of a return engagement by the Blue Angels. About 18,000 people attended the 2010 show when the team was here last.

"There's always a chance," Loy said. "It's not impossible."

He also has his eye on the Snowbirds Demonstration Team, a Canadian team of pilots and technicians who are serving members of the Canadian Forces.

"The Snowbirds have some dates open, even though they're more in the fall," Loy said. "I'm trying to chase that. There's nothing I'd like more than to get them."

Still, Loy said he realized there would be some who would be disappointed to hear that they would have to forgo the air show for another year.

"To do this just doesn't happen overnight," Loy said. "But don't give up on us. It's just one of those things. It will be better not to do it this season."

smoyers@semissourian.com

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Pertinent address:

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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