The giant propellers of “Fat Albert,” a C-130T, are seen against a deep blue sky the day before The Great State of Maine Air Show in 2015. File photo

BRUNSWICK — The Great State of Maine Air Show, which would bring the U.S Navy Blue Angels back to Brunswick Aug. 15-16, is still up in the air.

According to Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, officials won’t need to make a final call on the event until July 1, at which point preparations would need to begin in earnest. 

Levesque said they will be taking a look at Gov. Janet Mills’ plans to reopen the economy and lift restrictions, which currently limit gatherings to 50 people through August. The 2017 air show drew about 35,000 people to Brunswick Landing over the two day period. 

“We hope not to cancel but nobody wants to create an unsafe situation where anybody gets sick,” he said. “We’re looking at it very closely, we’re not going to do anything that’s going to put anybody in jeopardy.”

While there are still nearly two months before any decisions need to be made, Levesque thinks the next three weeks will be “really telling.” 

Already, festivals and highly anticipated events across the state are being canceled or postponed, like the Common Ground Fair, the Topsham Fair, The Maine Lobster Festival, Yarmouth Clam Festival, and Great Falls Balloon Festival among others. 

“It’s really something that the state of Maine and the people really love,” Levesque said of the air show, which has been held at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station for decades. 

The weekend draws people from Maine and beyond for the Blue Angels and other demonstrations, but also for the sense of community, the reunions for Naval air station veterans and celebrations for the veterans and their families. 

“Those things would certainly be missed,” he said, but they are being “missed everywhere in the state. It’s a crummy year for all of us.”  

If all goes according to plan, the air show will bring the Blue Angels, Fat Albert, an F-16 viper, Osprey V-22, T-33 Ace Maker and others back to Brunswick for the first time since 2017. 

The Times Record reported previously that until the former air station closed in 2011, The Navy was able to put on air shows free to the public for 50 years.

In 2015, the show returned after a three-year break from Brunswick after the Blue Angels were grounded in 2013 by federal budget cuts. 

They flew again in 2017 and then officials decided to postpone the 2019 show by a year so that the Blue Angels, who often need to be booked two years in advance, could return. Tickets, which range from $25 to $150, have been on sale since September.

Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which oversees the redevelopment of the former base and the Brunswick Executive Airport, provides the venue, but much of the work is done by the Air Show Network, Levesque said. 

“It’s a fairly significant endeavor” that costs anywhere from $600,000 to $700,000 to organize, he said. The Blue Angels pay for their own hotel rooms and fuel, but the other performers do not.

Then, the several hundred volunteers and security, police and fire and rescue need to be organized, as well as the food and drink vendors.  

Luckily, the Air Show Network has the equipment needed and it’s largely a matter of setting everything up, he said. 

Much of the money the redevelopment authority makes from the show is given back to the community through grants to local nonprofit organizations. 

In 2017, the last year the air show was in Brunswick, Levesque told The Times Record that as much as $10,000 to $20,000 had gone into the charitable foundation. 

If the event is not canceled, organizers will have to figure out how to keep people from getting too close and maintaining appropriate separation. No plans for how to do so have been made at this point. 

Representatives from the Air Show Network could not be reached for comment.

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