Air Show funding still short

VIENNA – The Thunder Over the Valley 2014 Air Show still needs to fuel up on fundraising by about $200,000 before liftoff in May.

So far the Youngstown Air Base Community Council has raised about $20,000 in cash donations, about $45,000 in committed donations and about $20,000 of in-kind donations.

“We’ve got fuel to pay for and fuel and smoke oil… We’re responsible for hotel rooms for the performers, so depending what day they fly in, the cost will fluctuate,” said Holly Baker, organizer for the air show.

The total amount needed she said, will be between $275,000 and $300,000. About a quarter of the cost is being paid for by the government, far less than the three- quarters covered during the most recent 2009 airshow.

Nevertheless, the show will be free and open to the public. Because the show will be held on government land, admission cannot be charged. During the 2009 show, about 70,000 people were in attendance. This year’s show is expected to bring out a similar-sized crowd.

The Trumbull County Tourism Bureau board on Thursday approved a $10,000 grant for the air show.

“The board approved grant funding for the show as well as in- kind services,” said Stephanie Sferra, bureau director.

The in-kind donation was $3,800 worth of advertising for the show in Ohio magazine.

“Worldwide there are only 16 air shows, so that’s a big thing right there,” she said.

Sferra said the show will have a large impact on the local economy. While the 2012 Cleveland Air Show required paid admission, it had an economic impact of more than $7.1 million for the city.

“There are vendors at the show, but visitors might decide to stop for a bite to eat, or to fill up on gasoline or buy a souvenir when they leave. That’s an economic impact,” she said.

Still the air show has a long way to go to finalize funding. While other organizations like Trumbull 100, which donated $10,000, have given funds, the council has created incentives for donors.

Sponsor incentives for the air show range from a pass to a VIP tent for a $100 donation to six seats on a B-17 or B-25 bomber and a private tent at the show for a $25,000 donation.

Baker said plans are starting to come together for all of the performers and static displays. A corridor is being planned to connect the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport to the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, so attendees can travel between the two locations.

“It’s almost like two shows,” Baker said.

At the airport and Winner Aviation, World War II planes will be on display along with other static displays. Meanwhile the performers, including the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the Trojan Horsemen, the Yankee Air Force, the Third Strike Wing Walking and more.

Show organizers continue to release new information on