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Tue, May 31, 2011

Northeast Florida Regional Airport Hosts Memorial Day Airshow

First Such Event For The Airport In Five Years

Special To ANN By David Juwel

After a 5-year hiatus, the Northeast Florida Regional Airport (KSGJ) hosted an airshow this past weekend. It was almost an international airshow ... what with the Misty Blues skydiving team who performed here being from Ann Arbor, Michigan, a scant 36 miles from Windsor, Ontario, Canada ... but I digress. It was a wonderful show! A grand mixture of the old and the new, slow and fast, graceful and rambunctious. There was something for everyone, kids and adults alike. What a wonderful value you get for your entertainment dollar at an airshow. You get 320 mph trucks, 650 mph jets, a woman standing on her head as she roars by on top of a wing, and a huge robot that lifts up cars and literally chews them in half.

Smoke, fire, and heat mixed with the culinary odors of the concessionaires. Soft classical music one moment and the roar of a stage six afterburner the next. You leave for the day realizing what a phenomenal time you’ve just had, and nothing more was required of you than to sit back in a comfortable chair and enjoy it; all the while collecting memories with your camera. Ah yes, give me an airshow for my weekend entertainment any day. I’ll take it!

But airshows don’t come easy to the people that deliver them to you. It takes a strong team of volunteers and professional people to make one succeed as described above. Safety and security are paramount, of course. These things didn’t occur at the St. Augustine show without the help of men like Craig Fordem, Director of the Airshow, and Sgt. Herrington, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, supervisor of the Unified Command Center.

And the performers themselves, what a group of people they are. They travel thousands of miles, and spend months away from home like a veritable gypsy, to bring you the very best in professional aerial and ground entertainment. They more than deserve the applause they get.

A wonderful fact about the Northeast Florida Regional Airport is the wide variety of aircraft that are based there. You can see WWII, Korean, and Viet Nam era aircraft. You can see Chinese, Russian and, of course, American military aircraft. You can see the best in corporate, private and law enforcement aviation. All of these were on display at the airshow. But interestingly, I didn’t see any ultra-light aircraft there. Oh yah, there’s the reason why. Mosquito control had already sprayed (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

If you ever wanted to get your name out to the public, consider becoming a sponsor for an airshow act. These people typically perform in 20 to 30 different localities per year, before more than 2 million people. That’s pretty decent exposure.

If you missed this air show, you missed a great event. Put it on your calendar for next year. You won’t be sorry.



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