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Tue, Dec 09, 2003

ICAS 2003 Opens!

ICAS' Annual Airshow Convention Is Off To A Great Start

By ANN Correspondent Rob Milford

The annual air-show confab got started under CAVU Texas skies on Sunday afternoon, as hundreds of air show promoters and performers met at the Wyndham-Anatole Hotel just outside downtown Dallas.

In a change of scene from the traditional Las Vegas get-togethers, some attendees were seen wandering the hotel, looking for the casino, and wondering out loud where the Keeno girl was.

This high dollar hostelry is the largest in Dallas, and as some were arriving on Saturday night, they walked into the cities largest single charity event, the black tie “Crystal Ball” that pulls in more than 4 million dollars in one night. It’s also the same hotel that hosted President Reagan for the 1984 GOP Convention.

It really is “THE” gathering in the air show industry. Names you know and members of all the teams you know are seen walking about in matching golf shirts, or shirts that promote their act. Ranging from cute helicopters to Vietnam gunships, and almost any combination of single, duo and triple aerobatic performers in a large assortment ranging from lightweight and high power modern single-seaters to round-engined, oil leakin’ tail draggers that growl and belch smoke. 

Anything you need from a B-17 to t-shirt vendors, huge and fancy porta-potties or an insurance company are all represented, and there will be three solid days of meetings and educational forums to pass along “lesson’s learned” and survival tips for the airshow business.

Sunday’s sessions included regional meetings for air show promoters, a pair of gatherings for ACEs (Aerobatic Competency Evaluation) an ICAS, a “closed door” meeting tagged “Industry Leadership Meeting” and classes aptly named “Air Shows 101, Air/Ground Operations Basics” and “Selling successful airshows”. There was a meeting for all Navy airshow officers, representing NAS’s from across the country.

Safety continues to be the overriding theme for this years gathering. While the number of airshow accidents was down in 2003, the number of accidents in practice sessions, or accidents in transit (to and from airshows) was up! The effort continues to make it a safer industry.

Sunday night was marked with a “Welcome to Texas” reception, where cowboy hats and longneck beers were part of the landscape.

Monday’s sessions start at 7:15AM (in the morning) and run for more than 12 hours, with sessions on performer and airshow contracts, a workshop on working with the Air Force, and the opening of the convention exhibits, and the mid-day announcement of where the U.S. military teams; The Navy’s Blue Angels, Air Force’s Thunderbirds and the Army’s Golden Knights will be flying, jumping and performing for the 2004 airshow season.

And part of the airshow landscape will continue to be social activities, after the aircraft have been parked for the day, and to make sure people can find the ICAS Bar this year, Jan Collmer parked his Extra 300 in the red-white & blue Fina markings in the hotel lobby, right in front of the bar!!  We’ll have a cold one for you, as we find out how he taxied it over from Love Field for ICAS!

FMI: www.airshows.org

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