Martinsburg air show to fly again

December 20, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • A pair of World War II-era warplanes fly in formation over Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport near Martinsburg, W.Va., in this Sept. 21, 2008 file photo.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard will host an air show and open house again next year at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport south of Martinsburg.

The 2012 Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Air Show and Open House will be held at Shepherd Field on Sept. 15 and 16 in partnership with the community, the Airlift Wing announced.

The Airlift Wing made the announcement on behalf of Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Inc., a nonprofit organization that was formed to organize the first such show, which was held in 2009.

The announcement Tuesday did not include the names of any particular performers who would be taking part in next year’s event, but did say in a news release that the show would feature a variety of military and civilian acts and displays while the base is opened to the public.

Plans for the event are in the preliminary stage and organizers said additional information would be made available as arrangements are finalized in the months to come.

Tuesday’s announcement comes little more than three months after pilot John Mangan, 54, of Concord, N.C., was killed when the North American T-28C he was flying crashed on the first day of this year's air show on Sept. 17.

A preliminary National Transportation Safety Board accident report indicated nothing broke off a 1950s-era plane Mangan was flying before it crashed into the ground.

The NTSB has yet to release a final account of the crash or a probable cause for it.

Officials canceled the rest of the show following the crash, but organizers announced last month that they still managed to meet all of its financial obligations thanks to the generosity of performers, sponsors and the community.

“Everyone gave back, something, somewhere,” Col. Brian Truman, vice commander of the 167th Airlift Wing Air National Guard and president of the board for Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Inc. said in a press conference on Nov. 1.

The Airlift Wing has partnered with the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority and United Way of the Eastern Panhandle to host and organize the show each year, with proceeds benefiting a number of charitable organizations.  

While tragedy marred this year’s show, Truman had said that show organizers received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the event. 

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