OCEAN CITY – In just its second year, the Ocean City Air show has booked “the Beatles” of flight demonstration performers: the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.
OC Air Show event promoter Brian Lilley officially announced the Thunderbirds would be coming to Ocean City for this summer’s 2009 show to Mayor and City Council Monday night and outlined plans for the two-day event scheduled for June 13-14.
The inaugural flight of the OC Air Show was considered a huge success by many as crowds of thousands congregated to the downtown area of Ocean City to view the aerial spectacle. Lilley said that those watching were not the only ones impressed by the show’s first “fly-by.”
“I was at the International Convention of Air Shows in Las Vegas last week, and I’m pleased to tell you that we have an outstanding reputation, as far as the crowds we delivered, the operational excellence that we were able to execute the show in, and also the hospitality that the town showed to the performers was quite a point of discussion between those that did perform, and those that have yet to perform,” he said.
Lilley said that he was “absolutely thrilled” to have booked the Thunderbirds, who are widely considered to be the biggest name in Air Show performers in the country, and he added that they are “very excited to be performing in Ocean City this year, and are looking forward to it very much.”
Thunderbird 12 Public Affairs officer Jason McCree told The Dispatch last week that the process to book the mid-June date to perform in Ocean City was a lengthy one.
““It’s a long process that begins with our corporate sponsors who work with the air shows and ends with approval from the Department of Defense,” he said. “We get endless offers to appear at shows, and we weigh them all and decide what works best for our schedule. This year, it worked out well for us to come to Ocean City in June.”
In addition to the Thunderbirds, Lilley announced the US Army Gold Knights Parachute team will be returning this year, and will execute a “night jump” at the show’s added “take off” party that will be held on Friday, June 12th on the beach between 14th and 17th streets in downtown Ocean City.
“For those who saw their jumps last year when they had the smoke canisters attached to their boots, the night jump will be similar but will use pyrotechnics,” he said. “If you will, it’s a big sparkler, and if you imagine a sparkler falling from the sky at a couple hundred miles an hour, you can get the picture of what it will look like. It’s better than fireworks.”
Lilley said that several other performers are in the process of committing to the event, as well as new sponsors, while others have already committed like the Quality Inn hotel on the boardwalk, which will be headquarters of the Air Show once again. Many area hotels like the Francis Scott Key, Princess Royale, and Park Place Hotel will be accommodating the performers this year, and the Quality Inn will be offering their penthouse suites as a VIP viewing booth of sorts, according to Lilley.
Lilley adamantly thanked the City Council for their support of the air show, who will once again chip in a substantial $50,000 in costs to help put on the show this year.
City Council gave $50,000 to the Air Show to help literally get the event off the ground last year, which was paid back to the town at the end of the event. Last year’s event brought in about $60,000 in revenue, but ended up costing a projected $82,000, so it resulted in a $22,000 net loss. That fact didn’t impair Council or Lilley from trying it again.
“We could not have gotten to the point in less than one calendar year of getting the show approved to booking the Thunderbirds without the support of Mayor and City Council, so we thank you for a great team partnership for this year.”
According to the event outline found in the City Council agenda packet, the Gold Knights Parachute team will be paid $6,000 for their performance and the “Military demo team”, which one would assume to be the Thunderbirds, will get $12,000.