Why are there so few twilight airshows? I ask myself that question a lot. To me, there is nothing cooler than watching (and listening) to airplanes soar through the sky at twilight or at night. Some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken have been at twilight/night time airshows. It’s soothing, it’s peaceful, and sometimes even romantic. There have even been numerous cases of “concerned citizens” calling 911 thinking they saw a UFO, only to discover it was someone like Matt Younkin or Bill Leff at the nearby airshow. This typically results in the news running a story on it and free publicity for the airshow.
So why do so few shows have them?
Recently, we learned that the MCAS Miramar airshow is not planning on a twilight airshow in 2016. This comes as a shock to many long term Miramar fans who have long looked forward to the night show.
In some ways, I can understand why. If you hold the airshow on a Friday night, you’re competing against a lot of other things. Depending on the season the show is held in, you’re competing with sports, people just getting home from work, and other entertainment. Plus, you have to pay or obtain volunteers for an extra night. A lot of logistics go into organizing an airshow. This could be a turnoff for many shows thinking about having a night airshow. For many airshow attendees in the general public, the main draw are the jet teams. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard someone ask “What time will the Blues/Thunderbirds/Snowbirds fly tonight?” Without the main draw, your attendance will almost certainly be lower than a normal day.
Some shows get it, though. Last year we wrote a blog post on the Battle Creek airshow, which features a twilight balloon launch, festival-like atmosphere, fireworks, and a night airshow. Other shows have combined evening concerts and catered parties with short twilight airshows in an effort to attract a different sort of crowd that might not attend in the long heat of a full day.
Night airshows seem to have gained some popularity in recent years, but they’re still pretty rare. In 2013, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh added a second night airshow on Wednesday due to the popularity of the Saturday night show. They’ll do it again this year, with a night airshow on July 22nd and July 25th. Hopefully we see more shows add night shows instead of take them away in coming years.
So what are your thoughts? Should more airshows host night time or twilight airshows? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!
– AirshowStuff Photographer Ricky Matthews