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Future of W.Va. air show up in the air

Air Guard wing explores hosting another event next fall; 2013 schedule for major jet teams is scheduled to be announced next week

December 05, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — All possibilities are being explored to determine whether the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard will host another air show next year, the unit’s commander said Wednesday. 

“We are definitely looking at the possibility of holding another air show,” Col. Roger Nye said.

The 167th Airlift Wing, along with the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority and the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle, have partnered for the past three years to hold the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Open House and Air Show.

Attendance at this year’s two-day show, which lacked marquee military acts, was decidedly lower than prior years, but Nye said the event was held without incident.

“It was a very nice, relaxing celebration of flight,” Nye said.

Nicolas Diehl, president of the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge board, said more than $18,000 was distributed to various nonprofit organizations from donations collected at the free event by United Way of the Eastern Panhandle volunteers.

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The 2013 schedule for major jet teams such as the Thunderbirds, which performed at the 2010 show, and the Blue Angels, the Navy’s flight demonstration team, is scheduled to be announced next week at the International Council of Air Shows Convention in Las Vegas, according to the organization’s website and Diehl.

While Diehl said those involved in organizing past shows are ready to work with the 167th Airlift Wing to put another air show together, officials at Joint Base Andrews near Washington, D.C., earlier this year announced that budget cuts were forcing them to turn their popular annual show into a biennial event. 

The Air Force had said about 200,000 people attended their free show in May.

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