Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lauderdale Air Show canceled for 2014: Promoters plan to have it back in 2015

Next year's Lauderdale Air Show has been canceled because Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport would have to shut down all its flights during the performances to accommodate it. 

Promoters expect the show to be back in 2015 after the airport's current runway expansion project is completed and the airport has more than one runway for flights to use.

It's been one headache after another for the two-day annual spring air show that came to the city in 2012 — replacing the hugely popular Air & Sea Show that had gone away five years earlier.  

It had to cancel its Sunday show last year because of bad weather. This year, federal budget cuts forced the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds to bow out of performing just weeks before the show. Now, it's the runway construction that has scuttled plans completely.

"We know we can bring it back," air show president Bryan Lilley said. "We've just got to get Mother Nature and the government and everything else to cooperate."

Promoters don't expect a one-year hiatus to hurt the show.

"We can get and we've been able to get the best of the best of what is available to fly," Lilley said. "Fort Lauderdale is a marquee destination."

The performing jets require a five-mile no-fly zone from the center of the show when they perform. That zone crosses the airport's main runway, Lilley said

In the past, the airport has been able to shut down that runway and use a secondary one during the air show, Lilley said. That secondary runway is no longer available because of the construction project. The new runway won't be finished until September.

To accommodate the air show, the airport would have to stop all incoming and outgoing flights for more than an hour each day of the show — and for shorter periods on other days for the teams to practice and prepare.

One option would have been to move the center of the show north, from Sunrise Boulevard to Oakland Park Boulevard. That would move the heaviest crowds into a mostly residential section of the barrier island and away from the main beach area.

"Where are you going to put the crowds? Where are you going to put the traffic?" Mayor Jack Seiler said. "It's not even a realistic discussion."

If not for the runway construction, Lilley said the show had a "soft commitment" from one of the military teams to appear next year.