Saturday, May 6, 2017

Lawsuit casts pall over Planes of Fame Airshow at Chino Airport (KCNO), San Bernardino County, California




CHINO >> More than 50 historic planes were in the air and thousands of people were on the ground Saturday for the first day of the 60th annual Planes of Fame Airshow at the Chino Airport.

The show had briefly appeared in jeopardy, after a group of five tenants at the airport, including Yanks Air Museum and Flying Tigers Aviation, sued to stop it.

The tenants dropped their motion for a preliminary injunction to stop this year’s show, but said they plan to continue their legal action to stop future air shows unless changes are made.

The lawsuit alleges that the air show physically blocks and obstructs businesses at the airport from operating by erecting fences and other barriers that keep would-be customers from accessing their businesses, creating traffic jams that keep customers away. It further alleges that the show hurts their businesses by shutting down the air space, which grounds flight schools and other businesses not affiliated with the show.

The show is presented by Planes of Fame Air Museum, which is also located at the Chino Airport.

Indeed, Yanks Air Museum was blocked off Saturday. Drivers shuttling attendees from the front gate to the air show pointed out Yanks as they drove by and noted its regular hours — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays — but did not mention the lawsuit.

Most attendees, though, said they were familiar with the dispute — and saddened by it.

“They should support each other — one hand can’t clap,” said James Claude ‘J.C.’ Stoughton. “These businesses that are suing, did they not know about the air show when they started their businesses?”

Stoughton, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, was visiting with 31 other veterans of the VMF 215 Aero Club.

“I’ve come here every year since 2004,” he said. “We stop by Flo’s Cafe (at the airport) — the best chicken-fried steak in the West — watch the show and reminisce.

“Then we find the Budweiser tent and can’t remember it the next day,” joked Stoughton, of Lebec, in Kern County.

The air show included multiple aircraft on the ground available for tours, ranging from planes just slightly longer than a person to the C-130J, which is 113 feet long and has a wingspan of 133 feet.

A panel discussion with veterans, military vehicles, a ‘kids zone,’ and food and drink were also available.

And in the air, as many as a dozen planes at a time circled spectators and did acrobatics, while announcers gave running commentary and sometimes played the radio traffic from pilots as they flew.

“Even though Rob is 67,” an announcer said as Rob ‘The Tumbling Bear’ Harrison flew his yellow Zlin 50 LX straight up, “he sometimes acts like he’s 7 or 6.”

The advancing age of many attendees is a concern for air shows and the industry generally, said Dave Francis, 67.

“Just about everyone here looks like us,” said Francis, who drove up from Lakeside, in San Diego County, with his wife to meet a good friend from Huntington Beach and spend the day at the air show. “That’s why it’s disappointing they couldn’t work out the lawsuit. I’m sure there’s more going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, but it seems like it should be an opportunity for synergy.”

Francis said he’s been coming to this air show since the 1980s. He hasn’t noticed any major changes, but he thinks the closing of other air shows has increased attendance in Chino.

The lawsuit’s plaintiffs, who couldn’t be reached Saturday, have previously said they support the air show in theory, but want it run in a way that makes their businesses accessible.

“We feel it’s important to clarify that we are not anti-air show,” Yanks Air Museum said in an earlier Facebook post. “We are against the way that this air show is being operated. Our invitation to Planes of Fame to sit down at the table and resolve this is still open but they have made no attempts to talk with us and our counsel.”

The lawsuit alleges that even though the event lasts two days, the setup and takedown extend the event’s impact to an entire week.

Slight rain did not deter Saturday’s show, and organizers say Sunday will also go on regardless of weather.

Gates re-open at 8 a.m. Sunday, with a flying show from 10:40 a.m. to 4 p.m. Gates close at 5 p.m.

General admission is $25, with free admission for children under 12.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.sbsun.com

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