It’s been almost five years since Minnesota’s Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) voted to ground any air show activity at MAC-run airports. You can read more about the decision in a great post by Dave Weiman here. The MAC operates seven airports around the Twin Cities – MSP, Crystal, Lake Elmo, Airlake, Anoka-Blaine, Downtown St. Paul and Flying Cloud. Flybys are currently all aviation enthusiasts are entitled to; aerobatics are banned.
This past weekend, two events drew large crowds to MAC-run airports. Air Expo at the 133rd Airlift Wing of the MN Air National Guard (at MSP International Airport) celebrated the Wing’s 90th anniversary, while Wings of the North held their annual fundraiser.
With vintage war birds sitting on the tarmacs, and thousands of attendees admiring the beautiful flying beasts, it made me wonder if it’s time to reconsider the MAC’s ruling on no aerobatic performances around MAC airports. Static displays are great to get up close and personal with the planes that protect and serve, but seeing them in action is so much more compelling.
According to the MAC’s decision in 2006, the risk of an accident outweighed the reward of additional revenue generated from an airshow. Despite one commissioner lobbying for the pro-show argument, the overarching decision was to err on the side of safety.
It’s unfortunate that the closest airshows for Twin Cities families are at least an hour away – the bi-annual Chippewa Valley Airshow in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (featuring the Blue Angels in 2012) and Duluth Airshow are skyward staples and generate lots of money for their respective cities. However, both require a lengthy road trip depending on where you live in metro area.
I’m biased when it comes to airshows. I worked with the Red Baron Squadron as their media coordinator for a year, and can’t help but look in the sky when I hear a plane of any kind. That said, displaying the technological achievements of manned, aerobatic flight is something everyone needs to see. If nothing else, the sights and sounds of planes hurdling through the sky in controlled chaos is just what our kids need to be inspired, perhaps even getting them to ask, “How do they do that?”
How about you – is there a local restriction on airshows in your hometown? Do you have a favorite show you attend every year?