Blue Angels draw 45,000 Saturday, cancel Sunday
The Great Georgia Air Show organizers have called their Saturday event at Atlanta Regional Airport in Peachtree City “a great success,” which they say was experienced by 45,000 fans; far more than most of the previous events going back to its 1998 beginning.
Much of the draw this year was the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, otherwise known as the “Blue Angels,” who dazzled the crowd with their six-ship ensemble of F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets performing high-speed and wingtip-to-wingtip maneuvers over the airfield. This was the first time the Blue Angels had performed in the South Metro Atlanta area, the only Blue Angels show this year in the whole Atlanta area, and the next-to-last stop on the Blue Angels’ 2015 tour. (The team will perform their season finale on Saturday back home at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.)
While participants lit up social media outlets with praise for the Saturday air show and for the Blue Angels in particular, bad weather on Sunday meant there would be no repeat performances, even from the smaller acts, and thousands of ticket holders were left disappointed.
The Great Georgia Air Show published the following response Monday on their Facebook page:
“Air Show Spectators – we had a great weekend filled with wonderful memories and a lot of smiling faces. We also experienced some logistical issues. Here is our recap on the weekend.
“Saturday Overview – The day was overall a great success! We had 45,000 fans that were able to watch a spectacular show ending with an amazing performance from the United States Navy Blue Angels. In surveying people on the field, the masses had a great time.
“While we experienced many little glitches we had one major glitch. We had three bus stations for leaving the field and our large station plan did not execute well. We apologize for this as many people had to not only wait for a long time to leave the field and the lack of order to the flow was frustrating. We accept responsibility and apologize humbly. That said, we got everyone off the field and home safely.
“Sunday Overview – An air show is an outdoor event and weather has its own mind. Our decision to not cancel was based on the decision tree we shared with all of you in our communications throughout Saturday. If there was no convective (unsafe) weather, we would remain open. We had over 10,000 pre-sold tickets to Sunday and we wanted to provide those guests with the best experience they could have by providing as much entertainment as possible. Were you aware that Southside Church had a church service on the field, under the big tent, with several thousand in attendance? It was glorious. We were optimistic we would have a window in the afternoon for a low show however the weather did not cooperate. However we want to thank the United States Navy Blue Angels. While they were unable to fly, the United States Navy Blue Angels spent much time signing autographs and visiting with our spectators.
“We know you want to speak with us and we really want to speak with you. Our teams of volunteers are busy breaking down the show site this week. We will attempt to get to emails, post, messages, and calls by Monday, November 9th. Please give us time to respond. Our promise to you is that each and every single person that reaches out to us will receive a personal response from our team. Thank you and we hope you were able to enjoy the US Navy Blue Angels and The Great Georgia Air Show.
“The Great Georgia Air Show Management Team”
On Wednesday morning, GGAS representatives issued the following press release:
“Founded in 1998 as a grassroots event and run by hundreds of volunteers, The Great Georgia Air Show supports more than 50 local non-profit and civic organizations by working to be the greatest family friendly festival in Atlanta.
“On Saturday, October 31st, The US Navy Blue Angels, along with acrobatic pilots Sean Tucker, Michael Goulian, the Jack Links Jet Waco, the U.S. Navy Parachute team’s “Leap Frogs”, the CAF Dixie Wing, Delta, Smoke-N-Thunder Jet Car, and the Pyrotechnics team (Tora Tora Tora Bomb Squad) performed to a sold out crowd.
“On Saturday evening, after consulting with our weather service consultants, it was determined there was no convective (dangerous) weather and we could safely open the gates to the already pre-sold 10,000+ ticket holders. On Sunday, November 1st, after consulting with our weather service consultants and our entire room of performers, it was determined The Blue Angels could not do their show. We were advised that there was a potential window in the afternoon where we could perform a low show.
“Our immediate release of information distributed via social media, website, and through the announcer was as follows: ‘Today is going to be a fun day! We have live music going on under a 40,000 SQ FT tent that’s open to the public; our chalet village is alive and shaking. We have static displays, monster truck rides, our kid’s zone is up and running, food and vendors are active. We will have racing down the runway all day long highlighting the amazing Lexus RC350 and RCF! We are letting the weather dictate the air performances and hope to have a low show at some point in the afternoon. The Blue Angel’s will not perform their standard show however they will perform an autograph session today and they plan to make their departure an event in itself ending with the Great Wall of fire to close it all out! We can’t wait to see you here!’
“It was determined around 1PM that the weather was not improving and that not only could our aerobatic pilots not fly, the US Navy Blue Angels could not perform a modified departure. At that point the show announced to the attendees through the PA system the updated facts.
“While the air show staff is saddened that we have a handful of disappointed spectators, the show did communicate the circumstances at every point throughout the day. What we did provide families, children, and guests was the opportunity to get pictures and autographs from The Blue Angel pilots for over an hour. The Blue Angels were able to take off two by two as they departed, along with the Pyrotechnics providing a tremendous presentation on the runway to the guests.
“The air show staff spent the day talking with guests and were very visible. The guests were having a great time and were very supportive and complimentary of the staff for doing the best under the circumstances. The vendors were open with activities, the military and civilian static displays were open to our guest, and there was music playing throughout the field.
“The goal of the show is to have fun, be safe, and to support our community. We would like to thank the volunteers, the local officials, the military support, the Air Show Staff, and especially our spectators for a great show. For any guest inquiries, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.”