Aerospace America organizers happy with weekend turnout

Monday, June 17th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Organizers of Aerospace America expect to pay off debt and save some money after the air show returned from a year hiatus.

About 12,000 attended the event on Sunday alone, officials with the three-day event said.

``I'm real pleased,'' air show director Carl Whittle said. ``The flying weather has been great. We could have done without the overnight storms.''

Whittle and other Aerospace America volunteers were glad to see the show go on after being forced to cancel the 2001 outing. The cancellation came after rain dampened the 2000 show and pushed organizers into debt for more than $100,000.

``I never felt so depressed in my whole life,'' Whittle said. ``I felt lower than a worm.''

Organizers have paid much of the debt and should be able to retire it completely and begin saving money again, officials said.

The rain didn't completely stay away from the show this weekend. On Saturday, heavy rains flooded parts of the show's parking, forcing spectators to park farther away. Crews eventually allowed visitors to park on the Metro Tech ramp near Will Rogers World Airport.

Whittle said law enforcement agencies were concerned about security for the show in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But organizers said they were able to get extra security for the event.

The air show's return was helped by an appearance of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, who flew their ``medium'' show on Sunday because of low clouds. The crowd was pleased anyway.

``These guys are crazy, aren't they?'' said Dave Mason, 42, of Norman.

``It looks so smooth. It's like watching them in water.''

Modern military demonstrations with the F-117 stealth fighter, the B-2 Spirit and the B-1 bomber also were featured in the show.