Resort Has No Option But To Ground Fly-In Event

OCEAN CITY – Ocean City will not enjoy the annual excitement of the OC Fly-In this year, after the City Council voted unanimously Monday to support the recommendation to cancel the event.

“Unfortunately I am here tonight to recommend that we cancel the OC Fly-In,” said Ocean City Special Events Director John Sullivan in his presentation to the Mayor and Council.

Sullivan explained that due to a lack of funding and current membership problems within the Ocean City Aviation Association (OCAA), the Fly-In would not be viable this year.

The popular OC Fly-In occurs every year in the fall, brining a bevy of aircraft to the Ocean City Municipal Airport over a two-day span.

The Fly-In is a part of the list of town conducted special events that residents and visitors are offered each year. This year’s Fly-In was scheduled for Oct. 6-7 and was to be held at the Ocean City Municipal Airport. Events for the Fly-In included hourly tours of the airport facilities, educational presentations, static displays of aircraft and emergency equipment, parachute and aircraft demonstrations, and airplane rides. More importantly, it brought crowds to the local airport as well as to the area during the shoulder months of the busy season.

More than 50 aircraft were to be displayed at the Fly-In, including military, state, classics, experimental, ultralights, commercial, business, and general aviation.

Sullivan explained to the Mayor and Council the various reasons for his recommendation to cancel this year’s event.

Sullivan informed the Mayor and Council that the Collings Foundation was unable to provide the Fly-In with the anchor aircraft this year. These aircraft include the B-17, B24, and B-25. He added that the city has since been unsuccessful in finding a replacement for the aircraft.

Sullivan also attributed the recommendation to cancel to his concern for people’s safety at the show.

“I am very concerned about parking people inside an active taxiway,” he told the council.

According to Sullivan, the construction of new airplane hangers at the Ocean City Municipal Airport has resulted in a loss of visitor parking for the Fly-In. Sullivan explained that he would not feel confident parking people in the middle of an active taxiway and then transporting them across an active runway.

The current state of the OCAA is also a factor in the decision.

“The Ocean City Aviation Association is having difficulty this year with their membership,” Sullivan said, adding it was lacking the 50 volunteers crucial to the Fly-In.

The OCAA is also lacking in membership and leadership as a whole, resulting in a fledgling group currently, Sullivan said.

In a letter to Sullivan recommending the cancellation of the Fly-In, OCAA members Andrew Serrell and George Goodrow wrote, “The group has no formal leadership at this time and will at their September 2007 meeting, basically vote to go into inactive status…the Association will cease to function as an organized group until such time as active members and officers can be recruited.”

Without the volunteer support from the OCAA, Sullivan deemed it necessary to remove the Fly-In from the list of town conducted special events this year and possibly in the future.

In lieu of the Fly-In, Sullivan recommended bringing an air show to Ocean City in June 2008. The air show could include military aerial demonstration teams such as the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels.

In conjunction with the air show, aircraft would be encouraged to land at the Ocean City Municipal Airport for an “open house” of sorts. The hope is that it would bring people to the airport in the way that the Fly-In did.

The council showed regret that the Fly-In would be cancelled this year, with Councilwoman Mary Knight noting how much she enjoyed the Fly-In each year.

Councilman Jay Hancock added he hopes the June air show idea will be pursued.

“It’s really been a positive event, but I do really endorse your concept for the air show in June,” said Hancock.