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Air show dazzles Saturday, fizzles in the rain Sunday

Parking problems, poor communication about cancellations are top complaints

The Great Georgia Air Show was off to a rousing start on Oct. 31. But
things changed on Sunday after a rain event had its way, canceling some
events and leaving some ticket holders upset.

Attempts to get responses from management members about the
complaints were unsuccessful. Multiple phone calls were not returned.

The Great Georgia Air Show’s management team on its website Monday
offered a recap of the weekend’s events. The first day of the event,
Saturday, brought an estimated 45,000 people to Falcon Field. Hundreds
of unpaid volunteers also were involved. Things were different on Sunday
when rains took a toll on the schedule.

The big event that didn’t happen was a scheduled precision flying
demonstration by the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels on Sunday. The Saturday
show went off as planned, but people were still buying tickets at the
gate for the Sunday performance well after the show had been canceled.

“Our decision not to cancel was based on the decision tree we shared
with all of you in our communications throughout Saturday. If there was
no convective (unsafe) weather, we would remain open,” the management
team said.

For some ticket holders, the experience on Sunday left much to be
desired and, in the words of a Newnan woman who wrote The Citizen, left
her feeling misled about the show and its promises.

In a post on its website, the air show team admitted to a big problem
involving parking. “While we experienced many little glitches, we had
one major glitch. We had three bus stations for leaving the field and
our large station plan did not execute well. We apologize for this as
many people had to not only wait for a long time to leave the field and
the lack of order to the flow was frustrating. We accept responsibility
and apologize humbly,” the website post said.

Attempts were made to contact Great Georgia Air Show Director Tony
Dellatorre to obtain information pertaining to several questions about
the weekend event. A Monday night text message from Dellatorre said he
would contact The Citizen on Tuesday morning. That contact was not made.

For its part, the air show management team said more than 10,000
tickets were pre-sold for Sunday and, ”We wanted to provide guests with
the best experience they could have by providing as much entertainment
as possible.”

The Newnan mother referenced the excitement building up to seeing the
Blue Angels in action on Sunday, only to learn that the group had
canceled prior to the time some people bought their tickets for that
day’s event.

“They were canceled before people bought their tickets at the front
desk, they were canceled before the sale of the ($5) schedules, they had
been canceled all morning, but the Great Georgia Air Show never
mentioned this to any of the ticket holders, or any of the people
showing up to buy tickets. They never even sent a follow-up email,” the
Newnan woman said. “Patrons were lied to, manipulated into buying $5
schedules that they already knew were false, sold tickets to people at
the desk, without notifying them that the show they were buying tickets
for would not be going on.”

A Facebook post by the Peachtree City Police Department Sunday
afternoon said, “Airshow is over. Drive safely.” The time of the post
was 1:53 p.m.

Requests for refunds have been refused, with ticket-holders being
told the ticket price represents a non-refundable donation to a charity.

Air show management on the website said they are aware that people want to speak with them, and they want to speak with patrons.

Noting the one-week time frame needed to break-down the site after
the event, the management team said, “We will attempt to get to emails,
post, messages and calls by Monday, Nov. 9. Our promise to you is that
each and every single person that reaches out to us will receive a
personal response from out team.”

Below, the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels flying team shows
Saturday air show onlookers what precision flying looks like in a low
altitude pass over the Falcon Field runway in Peachtree City. Photo/Jeff
Lange.

Peachtree City resident and photographer Jeff Lange described some of what he saw Saturday at the Great Georgia Air Show:

“Everyone who attended the air show in Peachtree City on
Saturday saw a spectacular display of aerobatic excellence along with
moving tributes to our men and women serving in the United States armed
forces.

“The weather cooperated very nicely and I’m sure the
final attendance numbers will break all records. I’d be willing to bet
the population of Peachtree City was exceeded easily by those in
attendance.

“I was lucky to take some photographs in trying to
capture the spirit of the event … Among them are the Delta breast
cancer awareness jet flyby, the Great Wall of Fire, Fat Albert (the C130
support plane for the Blues and piloted by their first female pilot),
and the Blue Angels themselves.”

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