Air show takes to the skies this week­end

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - News - BY BORYS KRAWCZENIUK STAFF WRITER bkrawcze­niuk@ timessham­rock. com; 570- 348- 9147.

Joe Breymeier re­mem­bers air shows at theWilkesBarre/ Scran­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­portwhere his fa­ther led him through a mas­sive C- 5 cargo plane on dis­play.

The el­der Joe Breymeier on­ce­worked on C- 5s as an Air Force me­chanic in Ok­la­homa.

“He­would takeme aside and he­would showme all the dif­fer­ent com­po­nents, just about their char­ac­ter­is­tics and its mis­sion,” said Breymeier, now32, a 2003 Old Forge High School grad­u­ate. “Es­pe­cially see­ing some­thing that size, I think Iwas fas­ci­nated that some­thing that large could get off the ground … I just re­mem­ber­walk­ing through all the static dis­plays and talk­ing to the pi­lots and re­ally get­ting ex­cited. It kind of planted inmy brain that this is some­thing I might want to dowhen I get older.”

On Satur­day and Sun­day, Breymeier­will go to the lo­cal air showa­gain, but this time as part of the at­trac­tions as theNorth­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia Air Show re­vives an air­port tra­di­tion.

First Lt. Joseph Breymeier of the Penn­syl­va­nia Army Na­tional Guard­will pi­lot a CH- 47D Chi­nook he­li­copter onto the tar­mac, where it will go on dis­play for the air show.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to do­ing this show,” he said. “I’m able to come back to the area I grewup in and serve the com­mu­nity… and try to ed­u­cate peo­ple in the mil­i­tary and our mis­sions.”

He is not the only lo­cal whow­ill host some of the dis­played planes. At least three oth­ers will— Navy Lt. Com­man­der Tom Brown­ing, 36, a Blakely na­tive and 1999 Val­leyViewHigh School grad­u­ate, whow­ill fly in with an E- 2C Hawk­eye, a domed, radar- equipped plane used for track­ing air­craft and sur­veil­lance; and Air ForceMaj. JamesAStill­wagon, a 2000 Old Forge grad­u­ate, and Capt. Sean White of Moun­tain Top, whow­ill both ar­rive in a T- 6G Texan, a plane used to train pi­lots.

Both planes also will be on dis­play.

Brown­ing, who lives in Vir­ginia Beach, Vir­ginia, is with Air­borne Ear­lyWarn­ing Squadron 123, based in Nor­folk, Vir­ginia. He first at­tended the lo­cal air show when he was 12 or 13 years old and be­gan lob­by­ing for his unit to ap­pear here as soon as he heard the air showwas re­turn­ing. Air shows he sawhere fu­eled his in­ter­est in avi­a­tion. He talked at one showto a pi­lotwho en­cour­aged him to per­sist even if mil­i­tary re­cruiters dis­cour­aged him from be­com­ing a pi­lot be­cause of hisweaker eye­sight.

“I haven’t flown in­toAvoca as air crew,” Brown­ing said. “It’ll be fun to come back up … It’s a great op­por­tu­nity for the re­gion. I loved go­ing to them. It was al­ways a huge draw... Air shows are great re­cruit­ing tools. To be able to talk to some as­pir­ing area guys, it’ll be awe­some.”

The re­vived air showwill fea­ture­more than a dozen per­form­ers and at least 26 static dis­plays— air­craft that won’t per­form, but that air show­fans can in­spect and use as back­drops for pic­tures.

The air­port, which al­ways strug­gled to break even on air shows, lost $ 23,000 on the 18th and last one in 2000. The air shows ended be­cause of the newter­mi­nal con­struc­tion. The newter­mi­nal opened in­May 2006, but air­port of­fi­cials didn’t rush to bring back the air show.

In Septem­ber 2013, Lack­awan­naCounty Commissioner Corey O’Brien sug­gested a pos­si­ble re­turn, but the idea lagged un­der for­mer direc­tor Barry Cen­tini, who ex­pressed skep­ti­cism be­cause of costs and lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues.

Af­ter Cen­tini re­tired, Carl Beard­s­ley Jr. took over as air­port direc­tor in Jan­uary 2015, and thought the air show would serve as a great­way to con­nect to the com­mu­nity. Beard­s­ley, who or­ga­nized air shows as head of the air­port in Bing­ham­ton, NewYork, bud­geted $ 380,000 for this one, but ex­pects that num­ber to rise be­cause the air­port had to buy fenc­ing and other equip­ment that it lacked.

Of­fi­cials hope for at least 15,000 vis­i­tors.

“If we had 20,000would I feel con­fi­dent thatwe’re go­ing to break even? Sure,” Beard­s­ley said. “I think we’re go­ing to have a great re­sponse and the rea­son be­ing that I’m see­ing all the pent- up de­mand that oc­curred be­tween nowand 17 years ago. Peo­ple are so happy that the air showis com­ing back.”

He en­cour­aged peo­ple to ar­rive early to avoid traf­fic de­lays, es­pe­cially if they plan to use re­mote free park­ing rather than paid park­ing at the air­port grounds.

ForDavid Schultz, whose com­pany runs the air show, it marks a re­turn towhere his com­pany started host­ing air shows in 1994.

“I’m ex­cited on this one be­cause this is ac­tu­ally the birth­place of our com­pany,” Schultz said. “This is a nice home­com­ing.”


Watch the aer­o­bat­ics at Wilkes- Barre/ Scran­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Satur­day and Sun­day at the North­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia Air Show.

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