PORTSMOUTH — Organizers of three successful air shows at Pease International Airport had hoped to bring the event back this year, but it is not to be.
Ron Snow, marketing and development director with the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire, said they were unable to secure a jet team such as the United States Navy Blue Angels or the United State Air Force Thunderbirds for this year’s event.
“That is not the end of it for us. We can do an air show without a jet team for sure, but generally attendance is down around 30 percent nationwide without a jet team,” Snow said.
Air shows apply for jet teams in August and the jet team schedules are announced each December at the International Council of Air Shows.
Snow said all of the U.S. military jet teams were grounded for the 2013 air show season as a result of budget cuts associated with sequestration. This year, he said it looks like they are trying to accommodate shows they were supposed to attend in 2013.
Teams often flip-flop coasts as well, and this year the Thunderbirds are largely scheduled to perform on the West Coast.
Snow said about 220 air shows in the United States, Canada and internationally vie for the chance to bring a jet team to their event each year. Each team flies only 45 events each season.
The Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire and the Daniel Webster Boy Scout Council co-produced the air show in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Two of those years featured the Blue Angels and the third welcomed the Thunderbirds.
“We love doing the air show, but it takes a lot of time for the organization,” Snow said. “We certainly have other missions for our nonprofit organizations that we have to achieve, so we decided that it just didn’t make sense without a jet team to move forward for 2014,” Snow said.
He said the military is also still under heavy budget constraints, and they were also having trouble getting military style planes for people to tour and learn about.
After the 2012 air show, the organizations decided to try and hold the event bi-annually, but Snow said they might apply for jet teams to hold a show in 2015 instead.
“We have approval from the Pease Development Authority for 2016, but if it makes sense to do one for 2015, I think we will definitely put our applications in,” Snow said.
Not holding an air show will have an impact on the organizations financially, but Snow said they hope to make up for it in other areas.
In 2012, the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire received $140,000 in proceeds from the event as did the Daniel Webster Boy Scout Council. About 40 other area organizations also benefitted, including Portsmouth High School, Civil Air Patrol and the Krempels Center.
The event also helped build awareness for the organization. Snow said brain injury is still often considered a taboo subject, and people do not think of the organization until they are in need of its services.
The Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire has a database of 9,000 people they have worked with. They provide case management for 300 people statewide and offer 19 support groups for people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury and their families. Of their current client base, 65 are military veterans.
Service Credit Union has been the lead sponsor of the event since its inception, and marketing director Karen Benedetti said on Thursday they will continue to partner with the event in some way in the future.