It’s been a while (ok, a long, long while) since I last posted to the blog. But now I’m back, with a new URL and figured what better way to relaunch then with an update on the upcoming AirFest.
All systems are go for the air show known as MacDill Air Force Base Presents Tampa Bay AirFest 2014, the first to be funded in part by the community.
“We crossed the $150,000 mark late last week,” says Chase Stockon, who headed up efforts by the ad-hoc community group called the Bay Area Community AirFest Committee to raise money for the show, scheduled for March 22 and 23 and expected to draw at least 200,000.
That figure was the “go/no-go mark,” says Stockon, founder and CEO of Panther International, a software application company.
The committee, which came into being after MacDill officials received notice in December that they could put the show on, set a goal of $250,000 in community funding, representing about half the cost. Stockon says hitting the $150,000 mark ensured funding for all the civilian acts.
Community involvement became necessary because though the Air Force had approved the show, including an appearance by the Thunderbirds aerial acrobatic team, Pentagon budget cuts meant there was about 20 to 30 percent less funding available. It’s an even bigger cut when inflation was factored in, Air Force Col. Scott DeThomas, installation commander. told the Tribune last month.
The show had originally been scheduled for last April, but was scrubbed when automatic budget cuts known as sequestration kicked in.
“We are doing really, really well,” says Stockon. “All the acts were locked in as soon as we cleared the minimum commitment.”
Stockon, who thinks the committee will at least hit the $200,000 mark, says “effective today, our push is no longer fundraising, our push is implementation.
“I am just overwhelmed at how the community came together and stood up with finances,” says Stockon.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, which contributed $25,000 and Tampa International Airport, which kicked in a total of $15,000, are among the largest donors, says Stockon.
“The displays are out, the schedule is out, everything is locked in,” says Terry Montrose, a spokesman for the 6th Air Mobility Wing, the base host unit,
In addition to the Thunderbirds, the military will provide the USSOCOM jump team, a flyover of one of the 16 KC-135 Stratotankers based at MacDill and a static line drop by the Joint Communications Support Element. There will also be static displays of most of the planes in the Air Force inventory, including the F-22 Raptor. There will also be a dozen civilian acts, including a B-25 flyover and the P-51/F-4U Heritage Flight.
Here is the schedule for both days:
8:00 a.m. Gates Open
10:30 a.m. Opening Ceremonies - USSOCOM Jump and National Anthem
10:55 a.m. Rob Holland - Mike Goulian Dual Aerobatic Demo
11:10 a.m. MacDill KC-135 Demo
11:15 a.m. RV-8 Demo
11:25 a.m. B-25
11:40 a.m. JCSE Static Line Jum
11:55 a.m. Scott Yoak P-51 Demo
12:10 p.m. Melissa and Rex Pemberton
12:25 p.m. USSOCOM Jump - Aerial Formation
12:45 p.m. P-51 / F-4U Heritage Flight
1:00 p.m. T-28 Demo
1:15 p.m. Randy Ball - Mig 17F
1:25 p.m. GEICO Skytypers
1:45 p.m. Michael Goulian
2:00 p.m. L-39
2:15 p.m. Matt Younkin
2:30 p.m. Rob Holland
2:45 p.m. AeroShell Aerobatic Team
3:00 p.m. USAF Thunderbirds