No Air Show In 2019
AVOCA — An air show will not be held at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in 2019.
Airport director Carl Beardsley announced at an airport board meeting Thursday morning that the next air show will held Aug. 22-23, 2020.
For months, he said airport officials have been working with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to seek permission to close parts of the turnpike near the airport to allow for the renowned U.S. Navy Blue Angels to perform during Memorial Day weekend in 2019.
The expected heavy Memorial Day holiday traffic prevented any turnpike closures during that time, however, Beardsley said.
“Traffic concerns during the busy holiday weekend, especially near the Pennsylvania turnpike, created concerns with the Turnpike Commission,” he said. “There is an aerial box that’s located over the runway and the areas that surround the runway that must be clear while the jets are performing. For us, portions of that aerial box included the turnpike from the Wyoming Valley to Clarks Summit, which would need to be cleared.”
The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, was to be the main attraction of the 2019 NEPAirshow, which was going to be held earlier than the normal August time frame due to their availability.
The performances, however, required air and ground space in the vicinity of the turnpike near the airport to be closed certain times that weekend.
Beardsley said they understand the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s position but “are disappointed for sure.”
“Fortunately, we have worked out a plan for August 2020 that will make the next air show an incredible spectacle,” he said. “We have been informed by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds that they plan to participate in NEPAirshow 2020 as well.”
Beardsley said more details about the air show and its lineup will be revealed in the future.
“I think the community is going to be extremely impressed when they see the air show,” he said.
In other business, Beardsley announced the airport saw the highest number of passengers boarding planes in November on record for that month. In all, 23,059 passengers boarded planes last month. The numbers were up 1.4 percent in November 2018 from November 2017, he said.
“This is our fourth consecutive month that we’ve shown passenger growth on a month-to-month basis,” Beardsley said.
The airport board also approved a two-year lease extension with Tipsy Turtle Airport Pub & Eatery that will last until March 31, 2021.
Additionally, the board heard a presentation from Katie Leonard, president, and Kellyn Nolan, chief academic officer of Johnson College in Scranton, which is partnering with the airport to develop programs for local students to help fill occupations in demand in the aviation sector like diesel mechanics and field technicians.
The college received an $8,250 grant from the Lackawanna County Workforce Development Board to begin establishing programs for students in Northeast Pennsylvania so they can learn about the aviation jobs in demand.
Leonard said the grant dollars will be used to increase awareness about these jobs.
“We will target eighth grade students from Luzerne and Lackawanna counties to expose them to opportunities in the career cluster of transportation and specifically with this grant, aviation,” Leonard said. “The college and airport will work together to bring students to the airport to learn about job opportunities.”
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