Tickets already on sale for chance to see Air Force Thunderbirds in 2012

Capt. Julie Clark, one of the stunt pilots who performed Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011, at the Great State of Maine Air Show and Business Aviation Expo, stands on the cockpit of her Chevron Mentor T-34 aircraft as it rolls to a stop in front of thousands of spectators.
Christopher Cousins | BDN
Capt. Julie Clark, one of the stunt pilots who performed Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011, at the Great State of Maine Air Show and Business Aviation Expo, stands on the cockpit of her Chevron Mentor T-34 aircraft as it rolls to a stop in front of thousands of spectators.
Posted Dec. 24, 2011, at 3:52 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 27, 2012, at 2:08 p.m.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — The 2012 Great State of Maine Air Show is scheduled for closer to next Christmas than this one, but tickets are already on sale for a show that has the United States Air Force Thunderbirds booked.

In its decades-long history, the air show — which until last summer always was organized and manned by the U.S. Navy — has welcomed the Thunderbirds to Brunswick only once. The Thunderbirds, a flight demonstration and military recruitment tool, performed at 70 air shows in 2011. In Brunswick, they are expected to fly F-16 Falcons, according to Marty McMahon of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the group overseeing the civilian redevelopment of the now-closed Brunswick Naval Air Station, which is now called Brunswick Executive Airport.

The air show is scheduled for Aug. 24-26, 2012. Tickets range in price from $5 for the abbreviated Friday night show to $35 premium front-row seats on Saturday and Sunday. Check the website www.greatstateofmaineairshow.us for prices or to purchase tickets.

“The Thunderbirds have not flown in Maine in over a decade,” said Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority. “We are excited to have these ‘ambassadors in blue’ back in Maine skies again.”

As in past years, the headliners will be joined by numerous other aviation acts, including the Misty Blues, the world’s only all-female parachute demonstration team; Team Chaos, which brings the “Flash Fire” jet truck; and a U.S. Navy F/A-18 demonstration team. More thrill-seeking performers will be booked in the coming months.

McMahon said Brunswick is a preferred stop for many aeronautics teams because of its location near the coast — which means the skies here are not as congested as they are in other areas of the northeastern United States — and within driving distance of a large population of people.

“There aren’t a lot of places in New England that they can fly,” said McMahon. “Their mission is recruiting and this is one of the only places they can do that.”

Levesque said revenue from the air show is meant to cover the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority’s cost, showcase Brunswick Executive Airport and bring tourism dollars to Greater Brunswick. The 2011 air show was abbreviated by one day because of a tropical storm but Levesque said it still broke even financially, thanks in part to an insurance policy against bad weather. The authority was able to donate $25,000 in grants to local nonprofits after the show was over.

“It’s not here to make a ton of money,” said Levesque. “There are a lot of advantages to showcasing the [former Navy] property and Maine people have learned to expect air shows here. These shows have always been a fairly significant draw.”

Another difference with the 2012 air show is that it will not include the Business Aviation Expo. That event has been moved to a fly-in event scheduled at Brunswick Executive Airport during the summer of 2012.

CORRECTION:

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will use F-22 Raptors at the 2012 Great State of Maine Air Show next August. The Thunderbirds will be flying F-16 Falcons. Also, the reason flight acts like performing in Brunswick, according to Marty McMahon of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, is that the skies here are not as congested as they are in other areas of the northeastern United States, not necessarily because they can maneuver over the water.

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