ATC Privatization Threatens The Airshow Community

posted in: Miscellaneous | 2

ATC Privatization Threatens the Airshow Community

Pending legislation in Congress would pose a threat to the airshow community.

If this legislation becomes law, authority for managing airspace in the US would be transferred from the US Government to a nonprofit board, disproportionately made up of airline representatives and other officials with financial ties to the airlines.

This form of ATC privatization is a bad idea and will create significant challenges for airshow event organizers and performers if it becomes law, including increased prices, difficulty getting airspace access, and a host of other problems that would make airshows more expensive and more difficult to organize. Some shows might even go out of business entirely.

This poses a threat to the airshows we all love and support. The time has come to act. The International Council of Airshows (ICAS) and airshow performers are encouraging airshow fans to contact their local congressmen or congresswoman and express their concerns.

Call 855-265-9002 to be connected to a switchboard which can then connect you to your local representative.

You can also find the name and contact information for your congressman or congresswoman by clicking here. You may write your own email message or letter to your congressional representative, or you can use one of several different sample letters that ICAS has generated for this purpose here, here, here, here, here, and here. If you’d prefer to call your congressional representative, that’s helpful too. If you would like to educate yourself on the elaborate fictions the airlines and other advocates for this scheme have constructed to promote the idea, click here.

Aerobatic Airshow Part of Boshears Skyfest Cancelled For 2016

posted in: Airshows | 1

Team Aerodynamix

For the past 23 years, aviation enthusiasts and airshow fans alike could look forward to a yearly airshow in Georgia. However, due to an issue in securing an FAA aerobatic waiver, the Boshears Skyfest in Augusta, GA will not hold an aerobatic airshow in 2016.

On Friday, Feb 5th, Augusta Aviation and Skyfest officials said that they will not hold an airshow at Daniel Field Airport. Last year, the show was held in October and featured Gary Ward, Greg Koontz, Vertigo Airshows and Team Aerodynamix. A car show and airplane rides were also at the 2015 edition of Skyfest.

WJBF in an interview with Augusta Aviation Vice President of Business and Development Becky Shealy confirmed the issue in securing the waiver. When asked if “there is any possibility the F.A.A might resign the waiver” in the future, Shealy said “no.”

Shealy said that trees and nearby homes are causing issues in securing the waiver. Other issues include the proximity to the Augusta Municipal Golf Course, parking and how the aerobatic box would be drawn with the trees and homes.

Organizers do plan on attempting to bring back the airshow part of the event in future years but for 2016, they plan to host a car show, motorcycle show and offer airplane rides

Flooding And More Crane Drama Present Continued Challenges For Thunder Over Louisville In 2015

posted in: Airshows | 0

E-3 Sentry - Thunder Over Louisville 2010

The challenges are continuing to build for this year’s Thunder Over Louisville airshow in Kentucky. Even after the FAA prevented the headlining USAF Thunderbirds and US Navy F-18 Super Hornet from performing (perhaps forever), the event has had even more issues arise.

The show takes place over the Ohio River, which is currently flooded up onto city streets. The photo below was shared by airshow pilot Greg Colyer (T-33 “Ace Maker”) from the Thunder command center downtown. At the lower right, you can see a fence that marks one of the popular seating areas for the show, which is completely submerged. No doubt plenty of other viewing areas are also under water, meaning visitors will be even further from the action than normal. In fact, the river is forecast to reach peak flooding tomorrow at 8 pm – almost exactly during the main part of the event. You can also see the large cranes that started much of this FAA craziness in the background.

Thunder Over Louisville Flooding - Greg Colyer
Part of the Thunder Over Louisville show site – Greg Colyer

In fact, more drama with those cranes arose this week when the FAA dictated that large flags must be placed on the cranes to better mark them as obstacles for the pilots. The insurance company for the crane owners refused to cover sending a worker over the unusually fast and turbulent waters of the flooded river, meaning that for a time it appeared the entire airshow could be canceled. Luckily for the event and fans alike, local firefighters saved the day by holding a training exercise on the cranes while also hanging the flags that the FAA somehow feels will make the gigantic cranes more visible.

This truly has been a bizarre run up to what is regarded as the Midwest’s first major airshow of the season. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue!

Thunder Over Louisville Aerobatic Restrictions May Be Permanent

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 0

B-1B Lancer Flyover - Thunder Over Louisville 2010

More information has come out regarding the recent announcement that the Thunder Over Louisville airshow will be operating under severely restricted rules for aerobatic performances this year, and it does not sound good for airshow fans. The problem, which we covered last week, is that the FAA has denied the proposed 12,000 foot-long aerobatic box that is required by high performance jet aircraft due to what were at first described only as ‘obstructions’ near the flight path. This was later clarified to suggest that construction equipment and cranes near the bridges were to blame, and a video posted by WDRB showed tower cranes that are indeed very tall and very close to the flight path, as you can see in the screenshot below.

Bridge Construction in Louisville - WDRB
Bridge Construction in Louisville – WDRB

However, new comments from the FAA seem to indicate that long-standing bridges themselves may be considered obstacles in the future. The Courier-Journal quotes the FAA as saying that the bridges “would create obstructions in a larger aerobatic box”. This is surprising because the show has had aerobatic boxes of this size approved numerous times in the past, including for the Blue Angels last year. It is also worrying because if the FAA holds to this stance, the show will likely never be able to accommodate the large box again – even when the construction ends. The event holds the airshow only as a warm up before the fireworks on the river, and since a new location is surely out of the question, the lack of a large aerobatic box would almost certainly rule out performances by many of the most popular acts in the airshow industry, such as the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. As it stands, the Thunderbirds and the US Navy’s F/A-18F Super Hornet demo team have essentially been forced to cancel their performances this year following the FAA’s decision this year and other performers will be forced to remove aerobatics from their routines.

No one knows what the future holds for Thunder Over Louisville, but at the moment it doesn’t look good.