ICAS Says Record Year Likely
With only two months remaining in the 2009 North American airshow season -- as defined by the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) -- the 2009 season "will see record attendance," according to ICAS. That means ICAS believes attendance figures for 2009 will be greater than any prior year. The organization projects that 2009 attendance in the United States will be 20 percent higher than 2008, which itself saw a jump of roughly 13 percent over the previous year. For this year, ICAS president John Cudahy says, "we've yet to hear from even a single air show with lower attendance than they had expected" and "most are reporting record attendance." ICAS is attributing the surge in part to the economic downturn forcing people to embrace the concept of the "staycation." Pursuing their own cause, ICAS notes also that attendance is down as much as 13% at certain popular amusement parks and that America's pastime, major league baseball, has seen a 6% drop-off in attendance. ICAS is projecting that by mid-November, some 16 million people will have attended more than 400 airshows in the U.S.
Specific figures passed on by ICAS include a 10-percent increase year-over-year at NAS Patuxent River Air show in Maryland; the largest showing in its 18-year history at the Rhode Island National Guard Air Show in North Kingstown, R.I.; a largest-ever showing at the Ellsworth Air Force Base Air Show near Rapid City, S.D.; and an 18-percent jump at the Florida International Show in Punta Gorda.