Despite Poor Weather, Attendance Continues to Trend Up

May 26th, 2009

Although much of the country has experienced unusually poor weather during the first two months of the 2009 air show season, the initial trend toward higher attendance has continued throughout the country. MCAS Beaufort (5/16-17) in South Carolina had heavy rain on Sunday, but near record crowds on Saturday. On the same weekend, the Joint Services Open House at Andrews AFB in Maryland had threatening weather all weekend, but still welcomed huge crowds. This past weekend, the New York Air Show at Jones Beach and the NAS Patuxent River Air Show in Maryland were the latest ICAS member shows to welcome record or near-record crowds.

And the media is paying attention to the increased popularity of air shows during these difficult economic times. Last Saturday, the Los Angeles Times ran a story on the front page of its business section entitled, “Air shows deliver adrenaline without bleeding family budgets” with this subhead: “Attendance soars as families seek more bang for the buck.” ( Click here to read the full story) The product of a national public relations effort initiated by ICAS last month, the story was subsequently picked up by a wide range of newspaper websites, ranging from USA Today to the Chicago Tribune and New York Times.

“Weather-wise, we’ve had bad luck during the first several weeks of the season, particularly on the east coast. But the large crowds – sometimes in spite of that poor weather – have been encouraging,” said ICAS President John Cudahy. “As an industry, the challenge that we face now is to turn these larger crowds of first-timers into dedicated air show fans who attend our events year after year.”