LANCASTER – Organizers for the Los Angeles County Air Show believe they’ve raised the bar in satisfaction for attendees as they continue to look for new ways to improve the experience.
Attendance for the 2015 Los Angeles County Air Show was approximately 70,000 for Saturday, March 21, and 65,000 for Sunday, March 22, according to Executive Director Dennis Dunbar, who emphasized that the numbers are only estimates at this point.
He said attendance was more spread out this year compared to last year’s air show, which drew 26,000 attendees on Friday, March 21, 2014, and 77,000 attendees on Saturday, March 22, 2014. Dunbar noted that last year’s air show was limited to a Friday and Saturday schedule to work around the Blue Angels’ schedule for their performance at NASCAR.
“As we predicted, more people in total made it out for a pleasant experience and exciting event, and it wasn’t too packed,” he said, noting that the air show will work to accommodate more people on the airfield next time around.
Most important, Dunbar said organizers are working on a scholarship program that would put out scholarships for STEM-based educational opportunities.
“Bringing economic impact to the community is one thing, but you can’t count the number of kids who are inspired by the air show,” Dunbar said.
The prospect of educational assistance is appealing to Highland Tech Dogs Paul Ajodha and Michael Shaffer, who were at the air show representing the school’s Robotics Team & Engineering Club.
The two worked the weekend informing kids and parents about opportunities in engineering and digital electronics as part of Project Lead The Way’s Pathway to Engineering Program.
Paul said the technological atmosphere of the air show would hopefully open people’s minds to appreciate the value of his school’s program as much as he does.
“I feel very optimistic about my future because of PLTW, and the program is a great opportunity toward a career in engineering,” he said. “I am very confident about the progress I’m making, while looking at some prestigious colleges to attend.”
Michael said their presence in the STEM area at the air show may have generated interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. “We’ve been talking about the program, showing them flyers, and many people seem to really appreciate what we do in the program,” Michael said.
Dunbar also commented on how well this year’s performers and others “interacted with the crowd, especially the Thunderbird pilots and crew, making themselves so approachable to kids and enthusiasts.”
One such example was the Patriot Parachute Team. After performing from hundreds of feet above cheering fans on Fox Airfield, the former Navy SEALS landed on their feet to a warm reception from the crowds.
“It’s great to be part of the excitement and to hear how much people support you,” Patriot Parachute Team member and former Navy SEAL Justin Gonzales said, noting that he also enjoyed “a beautiful view of Los Angeles County from up there.”
Dunbar said that a percentage of the air show proceeds will benefit about 20 different local non-profit organizations, including Antelope Valley Blue Star Mothers, Quartz Hill High School Football Booster Club, Lancaster High School Marching Band, and various local ROTC programs.
Although air show organizers do not have this year’s revenue numbers, Dunbar did say that last year’s event brought in about $6 million or more to the local economy, including revenue for hotels, gas stations, restaurants, and other businesses.
“People come from all over the country,” he said. “And the majority of people attending the air show are not from here in the aerospace valley.”
Previous related stories: