PORTSMOUTH — For the last two years, Seacoast residents have been spoiled with the sights and sounds of some of the most renowned pilots and aviation performers the world has to offer.
Each year, in addition to thousands of local fans who flock to Portsmouth International Airport at Pease International Tradeport, tens of thousands more from the greater region have shown up to catch a glimpse of the high-flying superstars.
When the U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform with a host of others as part of the Service Credit Union Boston-Portsmouth Air Show later this week, it may be the last time in the foreseeable future that aviation enthusiasts can see such a vision soaring through the Seacoast skies. The Blue Angels last appeared on the Seacoast at the 2010 air show, which drew 70,000 spectators. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds headlined the 2011 air show last August.
Organizers of the popular summer attraction say they are thankful for all the benefits the air show has brought to the community, and beyond, over the years.
"We've had a tremendous time in the past two air shows," said Michael Kaufman, executive director and chief executive officer of the Daniel Webster Council of Boy Scouts of America, an event co-organizer.
The show is being jointly produced by the Daniel Webster Council, Boy Scouts of America and the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire. The organizations, along with more than 30 other local not-for-profit groups, will benefit from the show.
Kaufman said that each year, the show has not only brought a smile to the many flying fans of New England, but has also meant support for local businesses and nonprofits.
"It's put a lot of financial support in the coffers of Seacoast businesses," he said.
The show has also been a "blessing" for the Boy Scouts, said Kaufman, who added the money raised over the years has gone directly back to Scouts themselves.
"It's been a win-win for us," he said. "It's allowed us to showcase scouting by putting on a fun and unique activity in which the net proceeds come right back to our programs."
Money raised has helped the organization purchase equipment for the Boy Scout summer camp to ensure the youngsters have a quality experience, Kaufman said.
Steve Wade, chief executive officer of the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire, said the Seacoast has been fortunate to have the Blue Angels visit in 2010, after 20 years, and again this year.
"We've been incredibly lucky," he said.
After some bumps and bruises from logistical problems in the first air show related to scarcity of water and traffic, Wade said the organizations have learned how to put on the perfect type of show to ensure visitors are left with little to no complaints.
"We are in good shape and have a really good plan in place," he said. "We feel like we nailed it last year."
Wade also credited the assistance Service Credit Union has given as the lead sponsor for the event.
Funds raised over the year, according to Wade, have made a huge difference for the brain injury association. He said the last few years, the organization has had the money to help transition people who have brain injuries back into their homes and out of care facilities.
"We've been able to get people back into their communities," he said.
Funds raised from the air show have also helped the organization create a concussion awareness program with 10 high schools across the state, he said.
With more funds expected from the upcoming air show, Wade said the group will try to reach out to families of returning war veterans to see how they can help as well.
Another stakeholder in the air show over the years has been the Pease Development Authority, which opens up the entire tradeport for the show.
Airport Manager Bill Hopper said preparation for the show is a lot of work, but it definitely pays off when the roar of the Blue Angels can be heard booming through the tradeport.
And while this year's show is technically the last one, organizers say they are planning to take a step back to collect themselves and assess any potential for future shows at the tradeport.
"It's up in the air," Kaufman quipped.
Service Credit Union Boston-Portsmouth Air Show
When: June 30 and July 1
Where: Portsmouth International Airport at Pease International Tradeport
Performers: U.S. Navy Blue Angels, Black Diamond Jet Team, U.S. Army Parachute Team "Golden Knights," air show legend Sean D. Tucker, aerobatic superstar Michael Goulian, Wingwalker Jane Wicker and the NHANG KC-135 Stratotanker
F4U-5 Corsair: A carrier-capable fighter aircraft, primarily during World War II and the Korean War.
P-51 Mustang "Quick Silver": American-made long-range single-seat fighter aircraft primarily engaged in service during World War II. The Quick Silver, also known as "The Resurrected Veteran," celebrates our nation's Armed Forces. B-25 "Panchito": The Disabled American Veterans Flight Team brings its iconic World War II-era aircraft. The B-25, which gained notoriety in the famed Doolittle Raid over Tokyo 70 years ago, shares a modern-day mission with DAV: reminding people of the sacrifices veterans make for freedom.
Static displays: The show will offer various on-ground displays and fund-raising events. Food vendors will be on hand, and an ATM will also be on site. Visitors may also bring in their own food.
Tickets: General admission is $25 for adults and $20 for children. There is a $10 fee for parking. There are several premium seating options and private chalets that include VIP parking passes available for purchase in advance. All tickets can be purchased at www.BostonPortsmouthAirShow.com.