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No Mankato air show in 2018, but ’19 likely

MANKATO — Mankato won’t host an air show in 2018, ending a short-lived attempt to host a show every third year. But the following summer appears more promising.

“We’re tentatively scheduled for 2019,” said Public Works Director Jeff Johnson, whose department includes oversight of the Mankato Regional Airport. “We should find out by the end of the calendar year.”

As always, the availability of one of the major military precision-flying jet teams is the key. In 2012, the Navy’s Blue Angels appeared as the headlining act of the Mankato air show. In 2015, it was the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, who also headlined shows in 2003 and 1999. Some air shows rely on the Royal Canadian Air Forces Snowbirds as the backbone of their list of aerial performers.

The Thunderbirds, who are set to fly at the Duluth Air Show July 7-8, and the Blue Angels, who were in Duluth in June of this year, traditionally reveal in early December their schedule for the year beginning 13 months later.

The last show in Mankato, promoted as the Minnesota Air Spectacular, had a budget of more than $700,000. The 2015 show saw attendance decline about 10 percent compared to the 35,000 attracted to the show three years earlier, and the Air Spectacular lost roughly $20,000 compared to a $70,000 profit for the 2012 event, according to Free Press reports.

A city official who handled marketing for the 2015 show wondered if it made more sense to organize a Mankato show every fourth or fifth year instead of every third. That will turn out to be the case, albeit not intentionally.

Johnson attended the International Council of Air Shows convention last year and made a pitch for Mankato in 2018 but was unsuccessful. He feels more confident about next year.

“Things are looking pretty good,” he said.

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