BRUNSWICK — Whether the Blue Angels will return to Brunswick in 2020 is still up in the air.

The Navy’s flight demonstration team was part of the last Great State of Maine Air Show at Brunswick Landing in 2017; anchoring the Great State of Maine Air Show every other year was getting to be routine. The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority could have chosen to do another air show next year, but probably wouldn’t have been able to book the Blue Angels, according to executive director Steve Levesque.

“We have to request them two years in advance,” said Levesque.

But, Levesque said, “I think we’ll hold off until 2020.”

The redevelopment authority has requested the Blue Angels for 2020 but won’t find out until December if the aerobatic team can make it to Brunswick. The authority will probably make the call on the air show next spring.

The Navy was able to put on air shows free to the public for 50 years at Brunswick Naval Air Station before the installation closed in 2011.

The authority kept the tradition alive but now the public has to pay to visit the tarmac to watch aerobatic performers. As a result, the shows now draw fewer people.

“There’s a lot that goes into an air show,” Levesque said. “It costs between $650,000 and $750,000 to put on an air show.”

While the Blue Angels cover a lot of their own expenses, “you have to pay for all of the other acts and support all of them; you need sponsorship and you have to make sure you have enough ticket sales to pay for that,” Levesque said.

The authority needs to make sure it has booked a good jet team and a lot of static displays. If they bring in a big airplane for a few days, they need to provide the crew with hotel rooms, rental cars and that kind of support.

One of the issues the authority is grappling with are the many opportunities for people to see the air show without buying a ticket, whether it’s on Brunswick Landing or adjacent to it.

“If you can’t generate enough revenue to pay for the show, public safety costs – a ton of costs, then you have to look at, do you really want to do it,” Levesque said. “So we have to rectify some of those things.”

For example, if a company is hosting a picnic on campus where people are going to watch the show, maybe that entity could sponsor the air show, he said.

Though expensive to put on, air shows also serve to help the community. “All the money we make from our share goes to charities,” Levesque said.

As much as $10,000 to $20,000 has gone into the charitable foundation. Last year, however, only a couple of thousand dollars made it to the fund .

Levesque was optimistic the authority will get a good jet team to perform so it can work on solving some of these challenges.

“We’d love to have them; we love air shows,” he said. “They’re great, but they are an awful lot of work to put on, and money.”

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.