Committee recommends shutting down air show due to debt problems

Friday, March 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY - An executive committee for Aerospace America has recommended canceling the group's annual air show this year to offset losses from last year's performance.

The group is $90,000 in debt because of a rain-out of a Saturday performance of its three-day Oklahoma City air show last year. The debt must be paid before the board can fund Aerospace America 2001, which is scheduled for June. The group's board will meet to decide whether to hold an air show this year.

``The realities are it is a very painful decision,'' Director Carl Whittle said. ``We all love the air show.''

Half of Aerospace America's budget depends on ticket sales and money from concessions and souvenirs. He said the rain-out last year - the first in the event's 15-year history - was devastating.

``The air show is a three-day annual event, so it only has three days to generate revenue. The rain began Friday night and continued all day Saturday,'' Whittle said. ``That's what accounts for the deficit.''

Attendance declined at the air show last year because runway construction at Will Rogers World Airport forced the show to move to the smaller and more remote Clarence E. Page Airport in far west Oklahoma City.

Even though Page airport offered a better view for spectators and more grass for seating, attendance suffered because people weren't willing to drive to the temporary location. Still, more than 15,000 spectators saw the portion of last year's show that wasn't rained out.