OC Air Show MOU Approved

OCEAN CITY — Resort officials this week approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for future Ocean City Air Show events after concerns raised last week were resolved.

Last week, the proposed MOU outlining the responsibilities of the town and the promoter of the Ocean City Air Show for 2020 and 2021 was derailed after concerns were raised about certain language regarding the flexibility of the dates. Councilman John Gehrig said the MOU as written allowed for the promoter to ostensibly move the air show dates, a responsibility he believed belonged to the town because of its fiscal contribution to the event and possible schedule conflicts with other special events.

It was pointed out the air show’s headliners, including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, for example, often set their schedules as far as two years in advance. It was said affording the promoter some flexibility to move the event from one weekend to another helped ensure the resort got at least one of them each year. For his part, Gehrig said he understood the complexities of securing the top jet teams, but wondered if the restrictive language of the MOU was necessary.

As a result, the air show MOU was pulled from the council’s consent agenda last week. This week, Special Events Director Frank Miller came before the council to further explain the complex booking process for the major jet teams and offer alternatives.

“After several conversations since last week, the MOU has been revised with that paragraph taken out, but there is a better way to do this,” he said. “The secondary date provision has been removed based on the timeline, since the date change request would occur so far in advance, or roughly one-and-a-half years prior to the event. “This would allow for an MOU date modification to be coordinated through standard process.”

Miller explained Department of Defense requirements on the scheduling for the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds including a Request for Military Aerial Support require a primary date and a secondary date that must be approved months or even years in advance. In other words, the air show promoter couldn’t willy-nilly switch the dates just prior to the event with or without the language in the MOU. Satisfied the amended MOU met the town’s needs as well as the complexities of securing one of the top jet teams, the council voted unanimously to approve the document with the primary and secondary dates for 2020 and 2021.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

Alternative Text

Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.