Despite weather, AirFest has ‘good’ attendance: Official
JANESVILLE Despite heavy rain, lightning and high winds Friday night and Saturday morning, the ABC Supply Co. Southern Wisconsin AirFest rebounded with “good” attendance for the Saturday afternoon show.
“I think it’s incredible that we have 8,000 people out here today after what we experienced last night and this morning,” said Tom Morgan, AirFest executive director and founder. “It was raining so hard, and we were having lightning so bad that we could not open the gates at 9 this morning.”
The area was under a severe weather warning Saturday morning from about 6 to 9:30. Despite the weather, spectators were lined up to see Saturday’s performance.
“We have the most loyal fans in the business,” Morgan said. “At about 9:30 this morning I helped a couple from Pennsylvania.
“He was in a scooter and needed help getting into the grounds,” Morgan said. They had no family in the area. They came from Pennsylvania just to attend AirFest. Again, I think it’s a statement about our air show and our fans to see this many people here.”
Morgan was forced to cancel the show Friday night when rain and lightning descended upon the airport midway through the performances.
There’s little chance of having to deal with rain and lightning today, but the heat will be an issue. The National Weather Service predicts sunny and hot conditions with a high of 95.
“We’ll put on a great show Sunday, but folks need to prepare for the heat and sun,” Morgan said. “Be sure to have a hat, sunscreen and light clothing, and drink plenty of fluids.”
The event’s title sponsor, ABC Supply, will help those attending AirFest today keep hydrated.
“ABC Supply will provide each person entering the grounds with one bottle of cold water,” Morgan said. “We will have plenty more on the grounds as well.”
As expected, the show’s main jet team, The Black Diamonds, performed at half strength Saturday. What was billed as a team made of four L-39 jet trainers and two Russian MiG 17s flew with just three L-39s.
“Nobody is more disappointed than we are,” said Black Diamond spokesman Jerry Kirby. “These jets are machines, and sometimes machines have mechanical issues.”
Kirby said there was no hesitation when deciding not to fly with a full compliment of jets.
“These aircraft must be perfect before we will fly them in an air show,” he said. “They had some mechanical and inspection issues, therefore they were not perfect.”
“We will only accept perfection,” Kirby said. “We will never jeopardize the safety of the jets, our pilots and crew and, especially, the spectators.”
The three-jet Black Diamond performance Saturday went off without a hitch. The team performed precision aerobatic maneuvers including loops, high-speed flyovers and close formation moves.
Today’s air show begins at noon. Gates open at 9. A full lineup of performers is scheduled with the exception of the Pyro Jet Truck team. Event officials said the truck was damaged during transport to the event.
IF YOU GO
What: ABC Supply Co. Southern Wisconsin AirFest
When: Concludes today. Gates open at 9 a.m., with shows starting at noon.
Where: Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport, Highway 51 between Janesville and Beloit.
Tickets: Tickets at the gate are $15 for adults, $10 for children. VIP tickets are $50.
Advance and VIP tickets must be ordered online at
swairfest.org. The website also has information on camping and corporate tables.
Information: (815) 420-7923 or firstname.lastname@example.org