Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

WEEKEND TO FLY BY; Big NAS Show in the Sky Takes Work on the Ground More Than 1,000 People and at Least $450,000 Go into Staging the Aerial Production

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

WEEKEND TO FLY BY; Big NAS Show in the Sky Takes Work on the Ground More Than 1,000 People and at Least $450,000 Go into Staging the Aerial Production

Article excerpt

Byline: GREGORY PIATT, The Times-Union

The Blue Angels may soar over the First Coast every year, but Jacksonville Naval Air Station plays host to the Navy's flight demonstration team and accompanying air show every other year.

This year, the team and other aircraft will cruise the skies over the air station. But it takes nearly a year, at least $450,000 and more than 1,000 people to put on the air show at the Navy base, said Capt. Earnest "Chip" Dobson, the installation's commander. In the odd years, the Jacksonville Beaches communities host the show along with Mayport Naval Station.

"We view it as a community service because we are a big presence in Jacksonville," Dobson said this week.

Dobson called playing host a big challenge because it takes a large volunteer force to put on the show. However, it was the Navy's way to recognize the support received from the local community, Dobson said.

"It's a nice way to open our gates, entertain the community and let them see sailors up close, not to mention the recruiting aspect of the Blue Angels," Dobson said.

Since 1946, the men and women who have served with the Blue Angels have wowed crowds all over the world and created a history that jet trails back to Jacksonville. That's why it's a big deal to put on the air show, which will attract an estimated 250,000 visitors today through Sunday, Dobson said.

Eleven local corporate sponsors, including The Times-Union, have teamed up with volunteers from 110 tenant units at the base to put on the show. Some of the corporate sponsors provide cash and other in-kind services. Corporate sponsors contributed $60,000 in cash for this year's show, Dobson said.

It costs $250,000 for the paid acts and advertising, and the base pays another $200,000 out of its general budget for security, facilities and preparation of the airfield, said Dobson, who added the base tries to keep the costs down but still offer 17 acts.

"Anybody who organizes one of these clearly knows you can't put on this size of show for that amount of money," Dobson said.

But that $450,000 doesn't include the participation of local law enforcement, Coast Guard activities on the St. …

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