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Legislators to Barksdale: Air show too important to reduce

A large crowd showed up to enjoy the airplanes at the Defenders of Liberty Air Show.

Barksdale Air Force Base announced in July that its popular air show, which typically takes place over one weekend each spring, would now only be held in odd-numbered years.

Four legislators are asking Barksdale to reconsider those plans, emphasizing the event’s economic impact and importance to the area.

In an Aug. 29 letter addressed to Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, Sen. Bill Cassidy, Sen. John Kennedy, Rep. Ralph Abraham (District 5) and Rep. Mike Johnson (District 4) urged the base to reconsider its decision.

Abraham is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“The Barksdale Air Force Base Air Show is not only a showcase for the U.S. Air Force but also a massive economic driver for Louisiana,” the letter states. “The show attracts over 150,000 visitors a year, with out-of-town visitors contributing millions in direct spending to the local economy, and tens of millions downstream of that.”

When announcing the plan to make the air show a bi-annual event, a release from Barksdale noted the air show’s “high cost to the 2nd Bomb Wing mission; using 2,500 airmen per day for three days and nearly 46,000 man-hours during the year for planning and execution.”

“These demands force difficult decisions on how to most effectively continue meeting our primary mission requirements,” Col. Ty Neuman, 2nd Bomb Wing commander, said at the time.

As a result, the next air show won’t take place until 2019.

“We believe that any decisions that would have a significant impact on the great success this annual event generates should be stayed until there can be a dialogue to consider both the benefits and the ramifications to all stakeholders,” the legislators’ letter states.

Since 1932, the Barksdale Air Force Base Defenders of Liberty Air Show has offered northwest Louisiana a full weekend displaying new and historical military and civilian aircraft, as well as high-intensity performances.

This past year’s show featured the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s premier aerial demonstration team.

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