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Despite weather, Lynchburg Regional Airshow stays the course on final day

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform during the Lynchburg Regional Airshow on Sunday May 22, 2016 in Lynchburg, VA. Photo by Lathan Goumas.

The second day of the Lynchburg Regional Airshow got off to an uncertain start Sunday. With a low cloud ceiling and light rain the show did not seem guaranteed.
 
The clouds lifted about 11 a.m. though, revealing a brilliant blue sky that allowed for the Blue Angels to open the show opening as originally scheduled. As the Ladies for Liberty choir sang the National Anthem gatherers gazed skyward to the stars and stripes billowing from the foot of a United States Navy Seal who parachuted from a C-130.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform during the Lynchburg Regional Airshow on Sunday May 22, 2016 in Lynchburg, VA. Photo by Lathan Goumas.

As they were on Saturday, hundreds were treated to a rip-roaring good show put on by the famous Blue Angels flight demonstration squad and other performers.

“I came out twice because it’s the only place where you can be 51 years old and go back to being a little kid again,” Greg Nash of Lynchburg said Sunday. “All the grown men out here are just as excited as the little boys.”

According to a preliminary count by airshow officials, 19,000 people attended the airshow over both days.

While the show was the same as the previous day, the ticket prices were not.

Sunday morning organizers announced a $10 price decrease. According to several patrons interviewed, who purchased advance tickets, refunds for the difference in price were not provided to them. Most spectators were not aware of the price drop because they purchased tickets long before the event.

“It’s frustrating that they pushed for people to buy tickets early and they ended up cheaper the day of the event,” said Emily Carson of Fayetteville, West Virginia. “I would have paid again because it was worth it, but still, kind of crappy how it turned out.”

The show also received complaints on its Facebook page.

Despite several inches of deep mud all along the site, attendance numbers appeared higher than Saturday.

On Saturday spectators were only seated in the main viewing area, while Sunday saw throngs of people seated by the main airport and shuttle stop. The increased numbers did not seem to faze organizers, though.

According to Lynchburg Regional Airshow Director Ernie Rogers, more than 700 volunteers came out to help the event run smoothly. While some came out just to help, others came out to raise money towards various organizations.

“Today went awesome,” Rogers said. “The neatest thing for me was going out and talking to the people who went to the event. Everyone seemed to be having a great time.”

Following the Blue Angels’ performance, which ended around 4 p.m. Sunday, spectators swarmed the waiting shuttles. While some people opted to walk back to Liberty University’s parking lots, the vast majority opted to wait for buses.

Until the conclusion of the show the only way to return to the main shuttle stop, which would eventually lead back to Liberty University, was through a muddy path through a small ravine. Several patrons who started down the slick hill quickly returned after having difficulties.

Once the air strip opened only a few shuttles were available to transport spectators from the event to the main shuttle stop. With only a handful of mini buses transporting crowds — some needing to use the handicap lift several times — it was a slow moving line.

A brief altercation occurred with a spectator trying to push his way onto the bus. At the same time, Virginia Department of Transportation cameras showed traffic leaving the show backing up along U.S. 29 and Wards Road for more than an hour.

Once participants made it to the main shuttle site either on foot or via shuttle, a long line awaited them. Despite the huge crowd, people seemed content to wait their turn.

“Overall, for the amount of people and the venue they’re doing a great job,” Madison Heights resident Anna Walker said. “Now, if it were 95 degrees things would be different.”

On Sunday event organizers were unable to provide daily attendance figures or sales revenue. Rogers was pleased overall with the event.

“It was great to see the Lynchburg spirit come out for the air show,” Rogers said. “The Blue Angels love Lynchburg because of the way people treat them here. I think they left with a good taste in their mouth.”

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