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Terry DeVine column: Fargo AirSho planning very precise

The two busiest people in Fargo-Moorhead these days may be Dick Walstad and Darrol Schroeder, co-chairmen of the upcoming Fargo AirSho. They're flitting about like a couple of overworked humming birds as they attend to all the last-minute det...

The two busiest people in Fargo-Moorhead these days may be Dick Walstad and Darrol Schroeder, co-chairmen of the upcoming Fargo AirSho.

They're flitting about like a couple of overworked humming birds as they attend to all the last-minute details that must be handled prior to the June 8-9 appearance of the Navy's precision flying team, the Blue Angels.

There are some 70 people on the AirSho committee and they've taken on the appearance of a well-oiled machine as the event draws closer.

Schroeder and Walstad and many of the committee members have done this all before for earlier AirShos, but that doesn't make things any less hectic this time around.

I dropped by one of the committee's meetings last week at the Fargo Air Museum. Talk about organized. Even the most minute detail is thoroughly scrutinized, and security is an even larger concern in the wake of the tragedy of Sept. 11.

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Rules have changed since the terrorist attacks. At earlier air shows, patrons were allowed to bring coolers through the gates. No more. Nonetheless, Walstad and Schroeder said that shouldn't detract from a fun-filled event.

Walstad said it will cost well over $200,000 to stage the air show, even with all the volunteer help and in-kind donations of services from many businesses in Fargo-Moorhead.

For instance, Selland Pontiac and Valley Ford are donating 63 vehicles for use by air show officials and participants. Duane Durr and his Don's Car Washes will make sure the vehicles are clean.

Weather is the key to everything. Sunny skies and balmy temperatures would be heaven sent, said Walstad. He said the committee hopes to attract crowds of at least 20,000 for each of the two days of the AirSho. He said that isn't an unrealistic figure considering the Blue Angels are performing both days and the show features such a stellar lineup of performers and restored aircraft from others eras. If total attendance reaches 50,000, the committee will consider the 2002 AirSho a resounding success and cover all of its expenses.

Jim "Fang" Maroney, a Casselton native, Northwest Airlines Boeing 757 captain and former Marine Corps "Top Gun" and North Dakota Air National Guard fighter pilot, is handling arrangements with the Blue Angels.

Maroney, who will fly his aerobatic "Super Chipmunk" in the AirSho, said the Blue Angels will arrive early Thursday afternoon, June 6, refuel, and then spend a couple of hours practicing and getting their checkpoints down.

You'll more than likely see the beautiful and meticulously maintained Navy blue and yellow "Hornets" zipping around above Fargo-Moorhead. Certainly, you will hear them. That's one of their ways of saying "hello" to our communities and letting us know they're in town.

The Fargo Air Museum will host a "Meet the Performers" reception at 7 p.m. June 7. It will be open to the public and a small admission fee will be charged.

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Tickets for the AirSho can be purchased for $8 in advance at all Stop-N-Go stores or at the air museum. They may also be purchased at the Friday night event.

Tickets purchased at the gates June 8-9 will cost $12.

Readers can reach Terry DeVine at (701) 241-5515 or tdevine@forumcomm.com

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