Thursday, April 17, 2014

Help wanted: Mahoning Valley air show May 17-18 needs local funds

The Thunderbirds are still set to fly over the Mahoning Valley on May 17-18, but between $275,000 and $300,000 in community financial support is needed to complete the list of private attractions planned for the two-day event.

This is the second “Thunder Over the Valley” air show at the air reserve station here in five years.

The cost of the show, some $500,000, is about the same as the 2009 “Thunder Over the Valley.” But the cost share between the Air Force and the community is reversed because of cutbacks in military spending, said Holly Baker, a member of Youngstown Air Reserve Base Community Council, the organization spearheading the private air-show financial campaign.

The Air Force is funding the main attraction, the Thunderbirds, the Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron also known as America’s Ambassadors in Blue.

The cost burden has been flipped from the 2009 show, when the Air Force paid 75 percent of the cost and the base community council the remaining 25 percent.

To date, the council has raised about $120,000 in cash and $25,000 in in-kind services of the $275,000 to $300,000, representing the community’s 75 percent share, said Baker of North Lima.

“We are responsible for paying for all civilian acts,” she said.

At this point, the acts joining the Thunderbirds include Trojan Horsemen, Third Strike Wing Walking, Yankee Air Force, Quick Silver, Flash Fire Jet Truck, Valiant Echoes, Grayout Aerial Sports and The Vanguard Squadron.

On show days, the YARS gates open at 9 a.m. and flying begins at noon.

Admission is free. There will be no public parking at YARS as there was in 2009, however. Instead, parking will be remote, and visitors will be bused to the air reserve station for a nominal fee, a spokesman for the 910th Airlift Wing at YARS said.

Parking costs and busing details are being worked out, and complete information will be available closer to the show dates.

For information about sponsorship opportunities, security guidelines and performers, visit For questions, call Holly Baker at 330-531-0120.

“There has been a positive response from everyone. The general public and businesses have contributed generously, and we’re hopeful we’ll get the money we need,” Baker said.

Story and comments/reaction: