MUSKOGEE airshow officials hoping rain stays away

Friday, September 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP)_ Organizers of AirShow Oklahoma 2001 were checking the skies for more than just airplanes Friday.

For the second straight year, bad weather could dampen this weekend's show, which features the Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team and an appearance by a woman retracing the 1928 cross-country solo flight of Amelia Earhart.

AirShow Oklahoma is the only major airshow in the state this year. Oklahoma City's AeroSpace America, normally held in June, was canceled because of money woes. That show lost thousands of dollars last year because bad weather forced the cancellation of one day's events.

Ervalene Jenkins, director of Muskogee Convention and Tourism, said cold and wet weather on the second day of last year's Muskogee show chilled a sparse crowd and kept thousands away.

He said the air show didn't lose money last year, but it did not make as much as expected.

Jenkins said a large crowd is expected this year ``because we've gotten a lot of inquiries from surrounding states and from as far away as Michigan.

``Two things are generating greater interest in AirShow Oklahoma this year than previous years,'' he said. ``The first is Oklahoma City decided not to hold a show this year, leaving Muskogee as the host of the only major show in the state. The second is the appearance of Amelia Earhart...''

Earhart in reality is Carlene Mendieta, a 47-year-old California periodontist who is recreating the record-breaking 1928 flight.

She is scheduled to land at 1 p.m. Sunday at Davis Field, where the air show is being held.

Gates open at 8 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday and the show begins at noon Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday and runs until 5 p.m. both days.