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Weather, finale make air show hard to top

August 19, 2012
Jordan Travis - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA - Sunny weather helped make Saturday's Wings Over Alpena a spectacular one.

The show featured planes from the Korean War, as well as acrobatic flyers and a rocket-powered bus - a major crowd-pleaser, Wings Chairman Andy White said. He and the show's director of finance and sponsorship talked about what made the show such a success, along with the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center's base commander and operations group director.

For the first time in the show's brief history, the weather cooperated, White said.

Article Photos

News Photo by Jessica Nikolich
Wings Over Alpena 2012 attendees use the KC-135 Stratotanker for shade, and an Air Force member takes advantage of its wing as an elevated location to watch the air show’s different planes flying overhead. The KC-135 was also open for tours of its inside quarters.

"It's the first time we had a good, sunny day out of the three shows we've had," he said. "Everyone I talked to seemed like they had a good time."

The good weather likely helped to bring out the crowds, said Phil Agius, air show director of finance and sponsorship. However, he didn't have a crowd estimate just yet. Vehicle traffic counters were provided by the City of Alpena's Engineering Department, and the results are still being calculated.

As for the show itself, organizers went for bigger names for performers this year, Agius said. This includes Indie Boys and their jet-powered bus.

"They're a very popular act," he said. "They're booked every weekend. We booked them 12 months ago and signed a contract. They were probably the most expensive act, even though they never left the ground."

Another act that got a positive review was the show finale, a re-enactment of a forward air control operation, White said. Pilots "bombed" ground targets, with pyrotechnics for special effects, while the audience heard their radio traffic over loudspeakers.

The finale was such a success that it could be hard to beat for the 2014 air show, Agius said.

"I don't know what we could do in two years to top it, it was just that cool," he said. "But we'll work on it."

There were a few glitches, Agius said. Two performers couldn't fly due to problems with their planes, and a search for a missing child briefly held up traffic at the end of the show. However, the issue was resolved, and vehicle traffic flowed smoothly overall with the help of law enforcement.

Michigan Air National Guard Maj. Andrew Apsey, Operations Group Director of the CRTC, said he thought the show was a success from his perspective.

"I'm overall very pleased with the sponsorship and the community support that went into it" as well as support from CRTC personnel, he said.

"The two working together put on just a spectacular show," he said.

Col. Bryan Teff, CRTC base commander, was also happy with the level of community support, he said. It's the first air show to be held at the base since he's been there, and he thought it was "outstanding."

"We're looking forward to another air show in 2014, and we hope it'll be a Vietnam War theme," he said.

Show organizers will have a debriefing meeting in a few weeks to discuss what went well and what didn't, Agius said. From there, planning will begin in six months for the 2014 show.

"Hats off to Alpena CRTC, and to all of our - there were hundreds of volunteers," he said. "People have no idea how many things have to fall in place to make that happen. There is so much that goes into something that only lasts 10 hours."

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688.



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