Runway Closing Cuts Show at Offutt; Flight Fans' Focus Shifts to Lincoln Airport

For their annual dose of deafening jet engines and aerial acrobatics, local air show fans will have to head to Lincoln this year.

Offutt Air Force Base will not hold an air show this summer, 2nd Lt. Matt Miller, a spokesman for Offutt's 55th Wing, said Wednesday.

"We're looking forward to having another one next year," he said.

Offutt's runway probably will be closed from April through October for repairs, said John Wood, executive director of the Lincoln Airport Authority. He said negotiations are ongoing for Offutt to use the Lincoln Municipal Airport during the repair work.

Offutt also canceled its 1994 air show while performing runway repairs.

Omaha's loss could be Lincoln's gain.

The Navy's Blue Angels will perform at a two-day air show at Lincoln Municipal Airport in September, and officials said they expect more than 200,000 onlookers.

The Nebraska Air National Guard and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce are staging the show. Offutt is not participating.

"We realize it's going to be the only major air show in the state," said Jerri Van Horn, air show event coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce. "This could really have a great economic impact on this part of the state."

The show, which will cost Lincoln about $350,000, could generate $4 million for the local economy, Van Horn said.

The weekend of the air show, Sept. 23 and 24, promises to be a busy one in Lincoln.

The Cornhuskers are scheduled to play Troy University on Sept. 23, which should leave nary an empty hotel room in town, Van Horn said.

"We've already been working with the Lincoln Police Department on traffic and crowd management issues," she said.

The Chamber of Commerce also has met with emergency management officials and plans to work with the Nebraska State Patrol and area sheriff's offices to make sure the weekend goes smoothly, she said.

Besides the Blue Angels, the show will feature the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, the group Tora! Tora! Tora!, the Shockley Jet Truck and Nebraska Air National Guard aircraft.

"I've heard a lot of people tell me this is the best air show lineup you could put together," said Guard Lt. Col. Keith Schell, the show's director.

The Blue Angels are known for precision aerial maneuvers in F/A-18 Hornets; Tora! Tora! Tora! re-enacts the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Shockley truck is jet-propelled.

The show coincides with the Nebraska Air National Guard's 60th birthday and will be free to the public.

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