Blue Angels to headline 2015 Fargo AirSho

FARGO - The Blue Angels, the Navy's precision aerobatics team, will once again headline the Fargo AirSho. The announcement for the 2015 show, which will be at Hector International Airport the weekend of July 25-26, came Thursday at the Fargo Air ...
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly over the 12th Avenue North bridge in Fargo in 2011. Forum file photo

FARGO – The Blue Angels, the Navy’s precision aerobatics team, will once again headline the Fargo AirSho.

The announcement for the 2015 show, which will be at Hector International Airport the weekend of July 25-26, came Thursday at the Fargo Air Museum.

“We’re looking forward to a great show,” AirSho co-chairman Darrol Schroeder said.

It’s been four years since the last show. The 2013 event was canceled when Blue Angels appearances were halted due to federal sequestration budget cuts.

Without the AirSho’s biggest draw, the 2013 event committee canceled the biennial show.

“The good news is, all the performers that we had contracts with rolled them over to ’15,” event co-chairman Mike Haugen said.

The 2015 event is dedicated to longtime AirSho favorite Jim “Fang” Maroney. The Casselton native and aerobatics performer died last March 23 in a crash near Knoxville, Tenn.

Maroney, a Delta airlines chief pilot and former commander of the North Dakota National Guard, was flying his 1956 de Havilland “Super Chipmunk” to a Florida air show when the crash occurred.

In addition to the Blue Angels’ F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, other AirSho acts include:

  • Kyle Franklin’s Flying Circus, with its 1930s racing-inspired biplane “Dracula.”
  • “Speed for Hire,” featuring Paul Stender’s jet-powered vehicles, including a school bus that can hit 367 mph, a 70-mph outhouse, and a jet-powered dog house.
  • Skip Stewart, who does aerobatics in his modified Pitts SC2 “Prometheus.”
  • Stunt pilot Kent Pietsch, known for his dead-stick routine and rooftop landings on a moving RV.
  • Lt. Col. John Klatt, who performs in his Air National Guard MXS aerobatic plane.
  • Skydive Fargo club exhibition jumps.

The show will also feature vintage WWII aircraft from the Fargo Air Museum, and other military and civilian aircraft.

Tickets for adults ages 18 and over are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate. Tickets for children ages 11 to 17 are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate. And children ages 10 and under get in free, AirSho spokesman Bryan Shinn said.

Schroeder said organizers hope to open advance ticket sales soon, perhaps in time for Christmas.

There is a major wrestling tournament scheduled at the Fargodome the same weekend as the AirSho, which means competition for parking, Haugen said. Event organizers are working with dome staff to determine what parking will be available, he said.

The Fargo AirSho is a favorite stop for the Blue Angels. In 2009, the Fargo event was named the “Blue Angels Show of the Year.”

“We take care of them. They do like us,” Haugen said.

It costs about $500,000 to put on the AirSho, Haugen said. Plus, new expenses have to be taken on with the loss of the aircraft mission for the North Dakota Air National Guard. Without support the Guard previously offered, the AirSho must rent and hire operators for barriers to stop the F/A-18s in emergencies. Also, engine oil checks done after each flight of the Blue Angels must now be outsourced.

“We have a lot of additional expenses. There are a lot of hidden costs,” Haugen said.

Since 1989, the Fargo AirSho has given more than $500,000 to Fargo-Moorhead organizations and projects, including development of the Fargo Air Museum, the Roger Maris Cancer Center, and 35 other nonprofits, the committee said.