The Northeastern Pennsylvania Air Show will return to the local airport next year with the most coveted aerial attraction in the business.
The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, known as the Blue Angels, tentatively are scheduled to perform at the air show May 25 and 26 in 2019, part of the Memorial Day weekend, according to next year’s schedule posted on the squadron’s website, www.blueangels.navy.mil.
“They’re the cream of the crop,” said Carl Beardsley Jr., director of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
Airport officials wanted the squadron for the return of the air show last August, but could not get them.
About 25,000 people attended the local air show Aug. 12 and 13. The airport lost about $70,000 hosting it, but blamed part of the loss on buying new equipment to stage it after a 17-year hiatus. Sponsors also only ponied up $150,000, about $50,000 less than expected, officials said.
“I think the plan was to take this year off and come back better next year,” Beardsley said.
Beardsley said airport officials have not signed any other acts to perform at the 2019 show.
“We don’t (have anyone signed), but planning has begun,” he said.
The Blue Angels fly Boeing F/A-18 Hornets painted blue and gold, the Navy’s official colors.
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, chief of naval operations, established the squadron on April 24, 1946, according to their website. The squadron’s mission aims to demonstrate “the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.”
An original flight team member picked the name after noticing the name of New York City’s famous Blue Angel nightclub in the New Yorker magazine. The squadron estimates about 11 million spectators see the Blue Angels perform each year.
The Department of Defense selects where the squadron performs, sifting through hundreds of requests submitted in September, according to the website. The Blue Angels’ commanding officer gets the requests, listens to the chief of naval information and Navy Recruiting Command, and Navy officials meet in December to approve a schedule.
Efforts to reach a Blue Angels spokesman were unsuccessful.