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Kristin M. Daum, Published August 25 2009

Organizers expect AirSho to turn a profit

A mix of nice weather, big-name attractions and end-of-summer excitement led Fargo AirSho coordinators to call this year’s event one of their best ever.

“We’ve always had the extreme – either too hot or too cold. This weekend, the weather was just perfect,” AirSho spokesman Bryan Shinn said of the event, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

The weather was one of many factors that led to what could be a record turnout of between 25,000 and 30,000 attendees during the two-day event, said Dick Walstad, co-chairman for the show’s organizing committee.

Preliminary estimates after the last AirSho in 2007 indicated 20,000 to 25,000 had attended.

Although specific attendance data are unavailable, concessions vendors reported their sales had doubled this year over 2007, which is another indicator of the possible record turnout, Walstad said.

Because of the increased attendance, coordinators anticipate this year’s show to turn a profit, but exact numbers won’t be determined for about three weeks. Any profits would be donated to area non-profit organizations, such as the Fargo Air Museum, Shinn said.

Despite the overall success, one minor glitch was that Sunday’s crowd did not get to witness the final five minutes of the Blue Angels’ performance.

Technical problems with the lead Blue Angels jet led to an early end to the pilots’ routine, Walstad said.

“Had it been a different jet they might have been able to finish the show, but the way the show is set up … you have to follow No. 1, and without No. 1, there was no one for the others to follow,” Walstad said.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority, and the instruments had indicated there was a problem with the hydraulic systems, so he split off from the rest of the team.”

AirSho officials have begun discussing the next show to take place in 2011. Walstad added that he’s already spoken with the Blue Angels about a possible return to Fargo in two years.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541