The Blue Angels fly in a diamond formation during the Great State of Maine Airshow at Brunswick Landing in Brunswick in this 2015 file photo. Whitney Hayward / Portland Press Herald file photo

Officials at the former Brunswick Naval Air Base and The Air Show Network are preparing for Blue Angels and Great State of Maine Air Show this weekend.

This will be the first time the famed squadron has flown at Brunswick Landing since 2017. The show was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Blue Angels are a Navy flight demonstration team that performs aerial acrobatics.

The show is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday —Sept. 4 and 5 — with gates opening at 8 a.m. Events start at 11:30 a.m.

Performances are scheduled until 4:30 p.m. both days.

According to Air Show Network President Jim Breen, fewer tickets are being sold this year, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the show sells out, expected attendance is around 10,000 per day, 20,000 for the weekend.

The 2017 air show drew in about 35,000 people over two days.

Breen said that the organization is monitoring state regulations related a new surge in COVID-19 cases, but masks are currently optional.

“If there is any issue as it relates the change in the plan from the state, we’ll certainly adhere to whatever that happens to be and we will react accordingly,” Breen said.

According to Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Steve Levesque, the bulk of preparation work that Brunswick Landing is doing includes setting up barriers as well as prepping and cleaning the air strip so the jets can take off and land safely.

The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority is tasked with overseeing redevelopment efforts on the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, which was decommissioned 2011.

“We essentially lease them the airport for the weekend,” Levesque said. “(After expenses) that money goes into our charitable fund account, and this fall we’ll be giving out grants to local nonprofits.”

Levesque said MRRA makes between $20,000 and $30,000 from the lease, and the show itself costs around $750,000.

About 200 local hotel room nights are used for air show performers and staffing, Levesque said. “It’s a pretty big boost on the local economy,” he added.

Brunswick Economic Development Director Sally Costello agreed.

“This event has regional pull and direct positive economic impacts — it is even more important to our community as our businesses work to recover from the negative effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic — we expect it will draw large crowds as it has in the past,” Costello said in an email.

Breen said that the Blue Angels will be coming from a previous event in Canada and likely will land in Brunswick sometime earlier that week to begin preparation.

This will be the only Blue Angel show in New England. Before the former air station closed in 2011, the Navy hosted air shows free to the public for 50 years.

The event is weather dependent, and if the show is rained out, it will not be rescheduled. Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Refunds will not be issued if the gates are open.

As part of its 75th anniversary, the Blue Angels will fly a new F-18 Super Hornet, which is 25% larger than the Hornet variant usually flown, which was retired in 2020.

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