HANOVER TWP., Pa. - It hasn't happened in 15 years, but this summer, stunt planes will once again take to the skies over Lehigh Valley International Airport. It's an attempt to lure people back to the struggling airport.
"We're expecting revenues in the amount of about $315,000, so we would expect the air show to generate revenue," said airport authority executive director Charles Everett.
The last time LVIA hosted an air show was 1997. This year's event will run August 24 and 25. Organizers hope to feature wing aerobatics and an all-women's skydiving team.
This isn't just about entertainment though. This move comes as the airport faces even more losses, and once again is looking at selling off some of its assets. That could include Braden Airpark in Forks Township, Northampton County. Pilots say the facility provides training -- and jobs.
"Not to point fingers, but I suspect that you and a lot of other people are just not totally familiar with all the things that go on at Braden Airport," said Mike Rosenfeld with the Lehigh Valley General Aviation Association.
But LVIA is in dire straits. The airport will soon be down to four airlines when discount carrier Frontier Airlines pulls out next month. Meantime, the losses are mounting.
"Last year's revenue was again, roughly $2.9 million, so we're off the same $400,000," airport authority treasurer Dean Browning told fellow members Tuesday.
The cash-strapped Airport Authority hopes this summer's air show will turn a $30,000 profit. And thanks to the federal budget impasse, the Blue Angels aren't performing, so many competing military air shows may be cancelled.
"A lot of air shows across the country who were expecting a military demonstration team will not have that unless the sequestration issue is resolved," said Everett.
Resolving LVIA's budget woes may be a much taller order.
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