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Worth the Wait
Cooperation, quick thinking helped reschedule rained-out Wednesday night air show
July 27, 2018 - The two night air shows during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh are always premier events during the week, but a Wednesday rainstorm made having the show that day impossible. As much as EAA Director of Flight Operations Dennis Dunbar wants to put on a show no matter what, safety has to take precedence, he said.
“The mindset that goes into it first is that everybody’s got to be safe,” Dennis said. “Of course we do everything we can to put on a show, but the bottom line is that everyone has to be safe. Folks here, there’s quite a distance that some of them have to go to get to shelter, so we have to watch the weather carefully to make sure everyone’s got a good place to go.”
Due to safety concerns, Dennis and his team had to make the tough decision to cancel the Wednesday night air show. Right after that decision was made, Dennis’ mind shifted to how they could rectify the situation.
“Once we get everybody safe, then we start thinking, ‘Alright, what do we do now,’” Dennis said. “We didn’t shoot the fireworks. We can always get more pyro, and a lot of our acts are still going to be there. The keys were there. But what really pulls it all together is the volunteer core.”
The volunteers that make up a crucial part of Dennis’ air operations staff meet daily to keep everyone involved with daily air show events on the same page. They met again after Wednesday’s cancellation to figure out if it would be possible to move the show.
“We rallied the battle staff and talked about strategy for how can we do this,” Dennis said. “The determination was that we as a team of staff and volunteers could pull this off. I spoke to the FAA on the FSDO [flight standards district office] side about verifying we have the flexibility in the waiver to do this and we did, we planned it that way. I talked to air traffic control to get an additional TFR and they immediately got to work on that. It’s really awesome, the relationship with the FAA and through all the planning that goes into this that we were able to then work as a team to make this quick transition.”
After ensuring that everything on the regulatory side was in order, all that was left to do was let the staff and performers know that they could put on a night show after all, just a day later.
“Once assured we had the components we needed to do the show safely, then a decision was made to have the show,” Dennis said. “We immediately notified the performers and air bosses and staff that we were going to have a show the next day.”
One thing’s certain, whether the AirVenture night air show goes on as planned or gets rescheduled, it’s always worth waiting for.