Brunswick getting first air show since 1997
April 13, 2016
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  • Wings Over the Golden Isles Air Show will launch Oct. 8 and 9 at the Brunswick-Golden Isles Airport bringing the first such event to the area since 1997, organizers said.

    John Cowman, president of JLC AirShow Management announced the two-day show Wednesday morning at the Glynn County Airport Commission offices.

    Cowman, who grew up in Brunswick, was a little emotional talking about his ties to the area and his longtime desire to stage an air show there. Cowman told the Times-Union after the announcement that he and his late father used to fish in the historic Altamaha Canal at the southern end of the runway at what was once the Glynco Naval Air Station.

    “I would sit there and look at airplanes. My dad would fish and shoot alligator gar with his pistol. There were still blimps here.”

    Cowman attended Glynn Academy in the 10th grade then moved across town to Brunswick High were he graduated.

    “I went straight to the Air Force and never looked back,’’ he said, but then he reconsidered and said he thought often of his hometown after he retired from the Air Force after 37 years and got into the air show business.

    “I told everybody I really wanted to put an air show down here,’’ he said.

    He had made an attempt several years ago for a show, but it wasn’t well received. His Wings over North Georgia Air Show is in its fifth year in Rome, Ga., and it is scheduled for just a couple of weeks after the Golden Isles show, he said.

    The event still needs the approval of the Glynn County Airport Commission and the Glynn County Commission, but County Commission Chairman Richard Strickland said Wednesday morning that is only a formality. Also, Robert Burr, executive director of the Airport Commission, said past air shows at the airport had been very successful and “We wanted to bring them back.”

    About 75,000 people are expected over the two-day event, many of them from Savannah and Jacksonville, but Cowman said he wouldn’t be surprised if it drew 100,000.

    The projected economic impact would be from $5 million to $7 million, officials said.

    Cowman and Burr both said there wasn’t even a discussion of an air show until about 10 days ago. The sudden selection of Brunswick for a show is possible only because one planned for another venue was canceled, Cowman said.

    That left all the civilian performers and planes available along with the Canadian Snowbirds, a Canadian Forces air demonstration squadron similar to the Navy Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds.

    Brenda Little, a publicist for the show, said the Brunswick show will be the Snowbirds’ last of 11 appearances in the U.S. this year.

    The Snowbirds fly smaller jets and put on a demonstration that Little described as “ballet in the sky.”

    Among other things, the lineup will include air acrobatics by Buck Roetman, five-time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion Rob Holland and three time champion Patty Wagstaff. A military parachute demonstration team will jump, the DAV Flight Team will fly its B-25, there will be a Cobra gunship demonstration and Kent Pietsche will land his Jelly Belly plane atop a moving camper.

    There will also be static aircraft displays, a fun zone for children, concerts and a big fireworks show Saturday night.

    Cowman estimated the ticket prices to be $25 for Saturday and $20 for Sunday plus $5 to $10 for parking. The paid parking is necessary because of the need for shuttle buses, he said.

    Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405