Air show takes to the skies this weekend
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.