May 21, 2014

We’re Back! The Rhode Island National Guard Open House Air Show

While many civilian airshows pressed on last year despite the lack of military participation associated with sequestration, there were just as many that did not.  The Rhode Island Air National Guard Open House in Quonset, RI was one of the latter. They were forced to cancel their annual event in 2013 for the first time since its inception in 1991 due to the budget cuts.

A Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey hovers for the crowd. Photo Scott Snorteland

A Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey hovers for the crowd. Photo by Scott Snorteland

The Rhode Island National Guard Open House Air Show has continuously delivered the industry’s top performers each year, and the airport has an ideal runway configuration for photography. That makes it a “must do” tri-state area event for photographers and aviation enthusiasts alike.  While the cancelation of the 2013 show left a void in the aviation community’s event calendar, it was evident that its negative affect had a much larger trickledown effect on the community at large both in and outside of the aviation industry.   While many local charities have been involved, the Hasbro Children’s Hospital remains the shows largest benefactor receiving over $1,500,000 since its start.  “The importance of the show was evident but became more so as soon as the announcement to cancel last year was made,” states Major Chris Peloso, Public Affairs Officer at the Rhode Island Air National Guard.  “We were inundated with calls and emails from a variety of people from top state officials to returning fans all asking what they could do to help bring the show back.  Local businesses and organizations suffered last year from the cancellation and many feared this would become the new norm.  From performers to vendors and even the local Boy Scouts who rely on the event as their only fundraiser, everyone was affected. “

Jeff Boerboon waves to the crowd in the new Jack Links Beef Jerky Jet Waco. Photo Scott Snorteland

Jeff Boerboon waves to the crowd in the new Jack Links Beef Jerky Jet Waco. Photo by Scott Snorteland

Things began to sound normal again in October of last year, when the Pentagon announced a limited return of military participation in airshows. However it wasn’t until this past weekend that the feeling was experienced.  “We’re Back” was the tagline in marketing the 2014 Rhode Island National Guard Open House Air Show that took place on May 17th and 18th, 2014. Leading the event were two of the military’s top demo teams, The U.S. Navy Blue Angels as well as the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor.  The return of these two military performances to the show was a key component that really helped solidify that things were returning back to normal.  In addition to the return of these military acts the show also featured return performances by some of the top civilian acts including The GEICO Skytypers, John Klatt, Sean Tucker and Rob Holland.  New to the show and the airshow circuit was Jeff Boerboon flying the Jack Links Beef Jerky “Screamin” Sasquatch Jet Waco in its first ever airshow performance.

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The Blue Angels classic crossover caught at the right time.  Photo Scott Snorteland

The Blue Angels classic crossover caught at the right time. Photo Scott Snorteland

“We were extremely pleased to have these performers on board in helping bring back the show this year,” remarks Major Peloso.  “Our purpose of the event is to open our gates to the public in an effort to show the community what we do. While there were negatives to not having the event last year, we have been fortunate to see the same domino effect in a more positive direction this year with the shows return.”  With weather conditions that turned out to be perfect, over 80,000 spectators showed up during the two day event to help show who the “We” are in “We’re Back.”

About the Author

Scott Snorteland



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