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Air show requires lots of work on the ground

September 21, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Making an air show successful requires a lot of help on the ground - help that organizers of the Spirit of America Over Martinsburg Air Show have found in around 200 volunteers, more than 60 sponsors, and local, county and state agencies.

Originally, air show organizer Nicolas Diehl expected around 10,000 people to attend the show this weekend at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport outside of Martinsburg.

"Now, we estimate it will be much larger than that," Diehl said.

Several international acts that air show organizers were not sure could be booked had breaks in their schedules, allowing them to participate.

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The show will feature flying acts along with antique and new planes on the ground, including an Air Force C-5 - the plane that is replacing the C-130 cargo planes at the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing base in Martinsburg.

Plane and helicopter rides also will be offered.

Putting on the show is expected to cost more than $100,000. Organizers have obtained between $150,000 and $175,000 in sponsorships and in-kind contributions, Diehl said, with local and state agencies agreeing to help coordinate traffic, which would have been an immense expense.

Nearly 200 volunteers will help with parking and other activities.

Several food vendors also will be at the show, with offerings to range from barbecue to Mexican food, Diehl said.

"I've been astonished at the level of support we've received from the entire community," he said, adding that sponsors and others from the four-state region have become involved.

Residents of the Eastern Panhandle are not strangers to aviation, considering C-130s and other planes fly over frequently and planes are being built at local plants. However, no flying air show has been held here since 1992, Diehl said.

Nothing compares with looking inside an experimental aircraft's cockpit, or touching the inside of a multi-million dollar jet, said Diehl, who added that his son is particularly interested in peering inside a jumbo C-5 jet.

"My 6-year-old son wants to know if he could pass a football in there," Diehl said. "He could probably play baseball in there."

Any proceeds from the show will be used to put on what organizers hope is a larger show next year. A weekend in September 2006 has already been marked as the prospective date, Diehl said.

Those who plan to attend are asked to take Interstate 81 to exit 8, Tablers Station Road. From there, turn left onto Tablers Station Road, left onto U.S. 11 and then right onto Novak Drive.

A 40-acre mowed field along Novak Drive has been set aside for parking, with another 100 acres available across the street if needed.

A shuttle service for older visitors and those with disabilities will be offered. Others will walk a quarter-mile to the airport, passing display planes on the way.

Parking costs $5, while tickets for the show are $12 at the gate or $10 in advance.

Tickets can be purchased at the Martinsburg Mall, ROCS gas stations, the 7-Eleven store in Pikeside on U.S. 11, the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce office on Viking Way and at Berkeley County branches of City National Bank. Tickets also can be purchased online at www.martinsburgairshow.com.

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