THE BLUE ANGELS, the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, returned to Brunswick during the 2017 Great State of Maine Air Show.

BRUNSWICK

Whether the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will return to Brunswick in 2020 is still up in the air.

The U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration team was part of the last air show at Brunswick Landing in 2017. Hosting the Great State of Maine Air Show every other year was getting to be a routine. Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority could have chosen to do another air show next year, but probably wouldn’t have been able to book the Blue Angels, according to executive director Steve Levesque.

“We have to request them two years in advance,” he said.

That means they may have had to try to get the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force demonstration squadron.

“I think we’ll hold off until 2020,” Levesque said.

MRRA has requested the Blue Angels for 2020 but won’t find out until December if they can bring their flying aerobatic team to Brunswick. MRRA will probably make the call on the air show next spring.

The Navy was able to put on air shows free to the public for 50 years at Brunswick Naval Air Station before the instillation closed in 2011.

MRRA kept the tradition alive but now the public has to pay to visit the tarmac to see aerobatic performers show their stuff. As a result, the shows now draw less people.

“There’s a lot that goes into an airshow,” Levesque said. “It costs been $650,000 and $750,000 to put on an airshow.”

While the Blue Angels cover a lot of their own expenses, “you have to pay for all of the other acts and support all of them; you need sponsorship and you have to make sure you have enough ticket sales to pay for that,” Levesque said.

MRRA also needs to make sure it has a good jet team and a lot of static displays. If they bring in a big airplane for a few days, they need to provide the crew with hotel rooms, rental cars and that kind of support.

One of the issues MRRA is grappling with, are the many opportunities for people to see the airshow without buying a ticket, whether it’s on Brunswick Landing or adjacent to it.

“If you can’t generate enough revenue to pay for the show, public safety costs – a tone of costs, then you have to look at, do you really want to do it,” Levesque said. “So we have to rectify some of those things.”

For example if a company is hosting a company picnic on campus where people are going to watch the show, maybe those entities could sponsor the air show, he said.

The air shows are expensive to put on but also serve to help the community.

“All the money we make from our share goes to charities,” Levesque said.

As much as $10,000 to $20,000 has gone into the charitable foundation. Las tyear, however, only a couple thousand dollars made it to the fund .

Levesque was optimistic MRRA will get a good jet team to perform so it can work on solving some of these challenges.

“We’d love to have them; we love air shows,” he said. “They’re great, but they are an awful lot of work to put on, and money.”

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