A year of planning comes down to just two days.
Fargo AirSho spectators see the aerobatic maneuvers in the air and the high-tech equipment on the ground.
But they might not notice the efforts of those working together behind the scenes to coordinate all the logistics.
When the gates opened to spectators Saturday morning, the Fargo AirSho committee and crew were ready.
Committee members had finished their individual tasks. More than 400 volunteers were ready at the concession stands and parking lots. And pilots were ready to take flight.
More than 70 committee members oversee the production and operation of the two-day Fargo AirSho - guided by a $400,000 budget that pays for everything from the gas for the planes to water for the spectators.
Co-chairman Dick Walstad uses a three-inch binder to manage all the logistics and material he needs to keep track of, and when he doesn't have his Palm Pilot in hand, his cell phone is nearby.
Walstad and co-chairman Darrol Schroeder spent Saturday morning canvassing the grounds and maneuvering through the crowd in their electric-powered GEM cars to make sure all last-minute logistics were on track for the AirSho opening.
Organizers and crew communicated via hand-held radios, and little intervention was needed in what Walstad called the "well-oiled machine."
The committee began organizing the 2007 AirSho one year ago by submitting the initial application requesting the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels to perform in Fargo, Walstad said.
Members have been meeting intermittently since, with weekly meetings leading up to the June 16-17 event.
"It's a huge undertaking, and it takes a lot of time," Walstad said. "It gets really intense as it gets down to it."
The biggest challenge that coordinators faced leading up to the event was the weather.
After three days of rainfall, Schroeder said he was relieved the weather was finally cooperating.
Spectators were welcomed to the airfield Saturday by an intense summer sun and clear skies.
But crews were out early that morning to lay straw and pump out water near spectator seating areas, Schroeder said.
To meet the needs of spectators in the summer heat, more than 35 nonprofit organizations - comprising more than 400 volunteers - worked the concession stands, selling everything from water to hot dogs.
The Air Show Network manages all food and beverage sold at the concessions. Crews have been setting up for three days and arrived at 6:30 a.m. Saturday for final preparations, said Janet Strange of the network.
Committee member Sylvia Garcia has helped with the AirSho since its inception in 1989 and awoke Saturday after three hours of sleep to finish the last-minute crunch of organizing credentials and directing staff.
"I've seen so much, and every two years there's always improvements," Garcia said.
By the numbers
What does it take to put on an AirSho? Here are some numbers to give
you an idea:
- $400,000 budget
- 1 year
- 70 committee members
- More than 400 volunteers from 35 nonprofit groups
- 28 financial sponsors
- 6 law-enforcement agencies
- 200 gift bags
- 100 guest hotel rooms
- 53 guest cars
- 3 dozen planes
- 32 performances
- $11,032 in insurance coverage
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 235-7311