Located not far from the tarmac where Navy planes took off and landed for more than half a century, Nate Wildes knew the 2017 Great State of Maine Air Show presented a unique opportunity to showcase, Flight Deck Brewing, a new brewery he co-owns with head brewer Jared Entwistle.
He also figured it would be a great way to raise money and awareness about the Brunswick region’s Navy heritage and efforts to preserve two lasting tributes to that history.
Wildes sent invitations to the U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilots who will soar over the former Brunswick Naval Air Station — now called Brunswick Landing — the last weekend in August. He even brewed and named a new beer, “Blueberry Angels,” in their honor.
In fact, Wildes has scheduled a five-day celebration of the air show, beginning Aug. 23 with local food vendors and concluding with the two-day show Saturday and Sunday.
“We want to showcase some of the heritage of the community and help show the 40,000 to 50,000 people expected what this community has to offer,” Wildes said Wednesday.
Although the Navy base closed in 2011, the history of the U.S. Navy is not forgotten in the area — a heritage most visible in the two Navy planes, a P3 Orion and P2V Neptune, the Navy left behind on the former base. The planes rest beside the roadway that allows access to Brunswick Landing, which is being redeveloped for civilian reuse under the federal Base Realignment and Closure process.
There’s one problem: The Navy didn’t leave funding to restore the planes, Wildes said. So on the Thursday before the air show, Flight Deck Brewing, located in the base’s former small arms range, will hold a fundraiser to benefit the restoration and maintenance of the two planes.
Twenty percent of all proceeds will go to a nonprofit established by the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the entity that is redeveloping the base, which Wildes, along with volunteers, will use to buy materials to reinforce the wings and repaint the aircraft.
Wildes said he’s had inquiries about other donations, and the brewery staff has agreed to donate all of their tips that day.
He expects crew members from the Navy ships under construction at Bath Iron Works to join the party, and said that while the Blue Angels haven’t confirmed, “We have faith they’re all going to be here,” along with the approximately 74 Navy men and women who travel with them.
Other events that week will include lawn games and live music under a tent, along with food trucks from New Beet Market and Cousins Maine Lobster.
The fundraiser will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p,m. Thursday, Aug. 24, although Wildes said if the crowds remain after 8 p.m., “We’ll get the fire pit out and keep the party rolling.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the P2V Neptune to be restored at Brunswick Landing.