OC Air Show Nearly Booked With Latest Additions

OCEAN CITY – Virtually all of the performers have been booked for the 2009 Ocean City Air Show, and the event’s promoter boasted that the bill of performers is in the “top three lineups in the country.”

Promoter Brian Lilley said that 90 percent of the performers have been booked for the 2nd Annual Air Show that will take place June 12-14, and the rest will be booked in upcoming weeks if all goes as planned.

“To be over three months out and have 90 percent of our lineup in only our second year booked, we are very pleased to say the least,” said Lilley.

New to the list of performers as per Tuesday’s City Council work session is the US Marine Corps Harrier Demo Team, which only travels to 10 air shows in the country per year.

“We are the only waterfront demo for the Harrier Team this year in the country, so that is very significant,” said Lilley. “We will also be hosting the F-18 hornet demo team from the United States Navy, and the A-10 Warthog Demo team from the United States Air Force.”

With these new additions joining the United States Army Golden Knights parachute team, who will return this year to the OC Air Show, and the headlining Thunderbirds, three different military branches will be represented during the show.

“We’ve got a spectacular lineup this year of military performers, and it very important that we get civilian performers as well,” said Lilley, “and we’ve booked several sponsored civilian flight teams as well.

The Oakley Viper Pitts, the Geico Skytypers and the Embry Riddle Eagle S80 team are just a few of the civilian flight performers who will also join the newly added US Navy Seals special forces elite “leap frog” parachute team as featured performers during the three-day air show.

The “leap frog” parachute team only makes six appearances each year at air shows, and Lilley said its involvement was very exciting.

“We have three and a half of the four hours that we need for the show, and we are hoping to get a search and rescue demo from the US Coast Guards and a few flyovers over some “pretty significant” aircraft,” he said.

The event brought in an estimated $48,000 in total revenue last year, but Lilley said that despite the tough economic conditions, it has generated $68,500 so far for the 2009 Air Show.

Lilley said that some of the most popular features for spectators might be on the ground as well.

“In the Inlet parking lot, there will be a F-16 as part of the Be Inspired Tour, for people to view up close as well as a Virtual Army Experience special exhibit,” said Lilley. “I just got back from NASA headquarters and they have confirmed their involvement with our air show this year as well.”

NASA will feature the “NASA Exploration Experience” to be part of the exhibits on 17th street, featuring a moon rock that people will be able to touch and a fully interactive audio/visual experience, and perhaps, as Lilley, hinted, an appearance from an astronaut.

“We are trying to reach our common goal of financial independence and make the event try to sustain itself on it’s own,” said Lilley, “but with waterfront air shows, admission is free and it makes us depend on sponsorship revenue, so we are going to continue to be seeking those out.”

Lilley asked the council to consider allowing a variance or special exception on the rule that says that the event must be 75 feet from the Boardwalk to sell merchandise, as allegedly last year’s merchandise sales were a low source of revenue for Lilley and his team.

City Manager Dennis Dare recommended that Lilley meet with the city solicitor in order to review options that could be done to help his cause while still maintaining the “integrity of the 75 foot rule” and the council unanimously passed that recommendation.