2017-06-16 / Front Page

Air show to provide special day for vets

The Times Record

BRUNSWICK

The American Legion Brunswick Post 20, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority and Air Show Network have announced they are providing a “VIP experience for veterans during the Friday practice” for this year’s Great State of Maine Air Show.

The practice show is not open to the public, but 100 veterans will receive invitations for themselves and one guest to attend as guests of the air show.

“We are pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to our veteran community,” MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque said in a press release issued Thursday. “The theme for our air show is ‘Honoring Those Who Serve’ and we feel an obligation to give back to those who have sacrificed so much in defense of our freedoms.”

MRRA and Air Show Network, producers of this year’s show, are donating the use of a Flight Line Chalet at show center and will provide food and beverages. The George T. Files Post 20 of the American Legion will provide volunteers to staff the chalet.

The air show is held every other year at Brunswick Executive Airport, part of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.

When the air show returned to Brunswick in 2015, an estimated 25,000 attended. The show’s success came despite a call by Topsham World War II veteran Conrad LeBourdais for a boycott over the fact that veterans, like everyone else, were being charged the admission fee.

Speaking in 2015, LeBourdais said that the air show has become too expensive for “common people” and their families to attend.

MRRA had offered to pay for tickets for any veteran unable to afford entry. At the time, Levesque said MRRA purchased 12 tickets from its organizer, Air Show Network, at the request of veterans.

Prior to the base closing, no admission was charged for the air show, which had been organized by the Navy.

Following the closure, MRRA organized shows with paid admission in 2011 and 2012 but failed to turn a profit.

MRRA spent more than $713,000 to organize the 2011 air show and received a net income of a little more than $800,000.

The authority spent nearly $600,000 on the 2012 air show but netted only $400,000.

Between the two shows, MRRA lost $92,500, even while charging admission.

The decision to make the air show an every-other-year event was made in 2012, after consideration of the Blue Angels demonstration squad’s schedule and competition with other air shows.

Attending this year’s air show can be an expensive proposition. A family of four should expect to pay $120 just to get in, and doesn’t include the cost of food, drinks, souvenirs or ear protection.

This year, general admission tickets for adults are $30 in advance and $40 at the gate. Children’s tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate — those under three are free.

Premium box seats are $45 for adults and children. Those who want to sit on the flight line can pay $135 for adults and $85 for children over three.

VIP parking is $30; RV parking is $50.

Veterans who want to attend the practice show can sign up online now through noon on Friday, Aug. 4 online or by leaving a message with the American Legion Post 20 at (207) 721-1172.

One hundred names will be selected from veterans who sign up. Those selected will be notified by representatives of American Legion Post 20 no later than Tuesday, Aug. 8.

The 2017 Great State of Maine Air Show will feature the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, U.S. Air Force F-16 “Viper” demonstration team, U.S. Southern Command Para Commandos parachute demonstration team, and civilian performers Michael Goulian, Larry Labriola, Kent Pietsch, Scott Yoak, Dan Marcotte and Bill Braack’s Jet Car.

The air show takes place at Brunswick Executive Airport on Aug. 26-27. Tickets are available through greatstateofmaineairshow.us.

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