The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds appear to be under an awning on Wednesday in beforer the Vectren Dayton Air Show this coming weekend. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees
Photo: Ty Greenlees

Air show to pump millions into local economy

The Air Force Thunderbirds jet demonstration team and the first public flight of the F-35 Lighting II at the air show were among the headline acts organizers are banking on to pull in throngs of air show enthusiasts who will face a forecast of mild early summer temperatures in the upper 70s on Saturday and Sunday.

Collectively, events that draw large crowds like the air show represent “an important piece to every business,” said Will Roberts, Vandalia-Butler Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer.

“The fact that we have (the air show) in the back yard of Vandalia and Butler Twp. is cherry on top of your sundae,” Roberts said.

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At the Super 8 motel near the airport, reservations were coming in from Colorado to Canada.

“We’re very booked up but not completely sold out this year,” Mariah Lamp, a hotel desk clerk, said Wednesday. “We’ll still be busy. Probably by Friday we’ll be sold out” this weekend, she said.

Dan Moody, an associate manager at the Cracker Barrel restaurant on Miller Lane near the airport, expects a surge in restaurant-goers.

“Anytime it’s in town, it increases all restaurants’ business,” he said. “Anytime hotels are full in the area it brings a lot of people in.”

At Bunkers Sports Bar and Grill on National Road in Vandalia, manager Amy Glavin will have more staff on the weekend to handle new customers. “I think it gives us an opportunity to bring new faces in,” she said.

On Wednesday, the acrobatic Geico Skytypers, making a first appearance in Dayton, landed. A Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet, acrobatic performers such as Sean D. Tucker, and two World War II era B-25s bombers flying a tribute to the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid against Japan in 1942 were among expected highlights this weekend, organizers say.

RELATED: F-35 to make flying debut are Dayton Air Show

The show has an army of about 1,000 volunteers, who raise tents, help park cars, take tickets, sell programs and run concession stands.

“Without the volunteers, we couldn’t do the show,” said Terry Grevious, air show executive director. “They’re the ones that actually pull it off and make it happen.”

Martin Baldwin of Huber Heights oversees more than 80 volunteers who manage 26 chalets, or air conditioned tents, that will host thousands this weekend.

“A lot of the same people year after year help do it,” said Baldwin, chalet chairman and a two-decade-long volunteer. The chalets sold out for the first time in several years, he said.

In Vandalia, an air show parade with typically 120 to 160 floats, car clubs and other attractions is set to roll at 7 p.m. Friday at the corner of National Road and Maple Street. “There’s a lot of moving pieces that all come together with those units,” Roberts said.

“We do celebrate this magical thing called aviation once a year and we’re proud of that,” said Rich Hopkins, a city of Vandalia spokesman.

The parade is a rain or shine event, but “rough” weather could delay the start or potentially lead to a cancellation depending on the severity of storms, Roberts said.

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Remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy, which has churned in the Gulf of Mexico for days, will give way to showers and thunderstorms in the Dayton region overnight Thursday into Friday, said WHIO meteorologist Brett Collar said. “The biggest impacts for us locally will be heavy rain that could lead to flooding, and strong winds that could cause some damage,” he said.

A cold front will move through Friday night and early Saturday and help push storms out of the area, he added. A shower or storm is possible early Saturday, but the day should be mostly dry but breezy, Collar said. Pop-up shows and thunderstorms are possible Sunday.

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