A number of safety initiatives in place each year for the Great Georgia Airshow are designed to protect the crowd, including individual pre-flight mechanical inspections of each aircraft and the presence of a safety monitor from the Federal Aviation Administration, air show organizers said this week.
On top of that, all of the aerobatics undertaken by aircraft are designed to move away from the crowd, according to Angie Faulise, the director of this year’s airshow, slated for Oct. 8-9 at Falcon Field in Peachtree City.
Along with the presence of the FAA safety monitor, the airshow employs an “air boss” professional whose sole responsibility is safety during the entire event, Faulise said.
There are a host of FAA safety regulations, including a restriction that aerobatics are limited to certain airspace off either side of the runway in pre-determined areas “well away from spectators,” Faulise said. Even the basic turns executed by aircraft are designed to go away from the crowd, she added.
Also on Friday prior to the Saturday and Sunday shows, the air teams get to familiarize themselves with the area during practice runs, Faulise said.
There is a heightened sense of safety precautions at aviation events this year following the tragic crash of a plane last month at an air race in Reno, Nevada that killed 10 spectators and injured several dozen more.
The Nevada incident, however, was at an air race, which is completely different from an air show, organizers said.
Because of the various FAA safety regulations, there have been no spectators killed at any air show since 1952 when they were first enforced, Faulise noted.
Also, the talent at the Great Georgia Airshow has practiced their routines over and over, and they do not go off the script to “hot dog” for the crowd, Faulise added.
This year’s airshow features a number of changes designed to enhance patrons’ experience, including the addition of Cloud 9, a family-friendly VIP experience with shaded seating underneath a tent and up-close parking. Designed particularly to help families with younger children who may or may not be able to stay all day, Cloud 9 tickets will cost $100 for a family of four.
The airshow is also offering a new upscale VIP experience called the “Silver Lining Club” which features Sky Court seating on the flight line and a catered meal for $75 per person. Tickets for Cloud 9 or the Silver Lining Club must be purchased online only, organizers said.
There also will be expanded play options for children, with three free flight simulators from various branches of the military along with a fourth civilian simulator for a fee. More inflatables will be on hand for the younger set this year, and the older ones will enjoy a combat simulator dome.
And it may be offbeat from the aviation theme, but there also will be a portable tennis court on site staffed by volunteers from the United States Tennis Association to help introduce children to tennis.
The children’s area has been relocated this year and will be further inside the grounds instead of next to the terminal building, officials said.
An effort has also been undertaken this year to improve the ground display experience for patrons, and in particular the golf cart parking access point has been shifted to Echo Court, just a bit south of the main entry drive to Falcon Field. Part of the reasoning for shifting the golf cart access drive is to keep golf cart traffic separated from pedestrians as much as possible.
There will also be hosts and hostesses dressed in light blue American Cancer Society T-shirts who will be available to answer questions from anyone on the crowd.
Also this year, organizers have focused on getting more vendor participation from local businesses, particularly with an eye on providing more options for mothers who attend the event.
And if you are planning on driving to the show by using the shuttle buses at Cooper Lighting or Starr’s Mill High School, those options are still available too, organizers said. There is no charge for parking or the bus rides to and from Falcon Field.
As for the airshow itself, those associated with the event have said the lineup of talent is the best ever assembled, Faulise said.
The days will begin with a cannon volley from an authentic Civil War cannon at 9:30 a.m., followed by a flag ceremony both days.
The ground-based aircraft displays will be open beginning at 9 a.m. when the gates open. This year’s theme is the celebration of the centennial of Naval aviation.
The pre-airshow begins at 12:30 p.m. with flights from the Dixie Wing Commemorative Air Force, followed by a short break and the opening ceremony with an American flag being delivered by the U.S. Army Black Daggers special operations parachute team.
The top featured act is Heavy Metal, the newest north American jet team, which is dedicating its season to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation will have a contingent of young spectators on hand at the show.
A returning crowd favorite will also be appearing: the Aeroshell aerobatic team, in addition to the A-10 Thunderbolt II East demo team and a tactical demonstration of the F/A-18 Super Hornet jet.
The popular Shockwave Jet Truck is also on tap along with other acts including the Wounded Warrior Flight Team and the comedy act of Hotwire Harry from Tiger Airshows.
Tickets may be purchased at Kroger stores via a special barcode that can be printed at home, or they also can be purchased online at a link at the top of http://thegreatgeorgiaairshow.com.