BRUNSWICK — The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels aerobatics team will return to perform in Maine on Labor Day weekend, 2015, according to organizers of the Great State of Maine Air Show.
The air show and affiliated Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the organization leading the conversion of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station for civilian reuse, each posted the news Tuesday afternoon on Facebook.
The International Council of Air Shows convention is taking place this week in Las Vegas, and the Blue Angels schedule for 2015 was released early to attendees Tuesday, according to the Great State of Maine Air Show post.
The schedule had yet to be posted on the Blue Angels’ official website by early evening Tuesday.
“We still have to get formal board approval to hold the air show, but yes, we’re very excited that they’ve once again chosen to come back to Maine,” Steve Levesque, executive director of the MRRA, said Tuesday night.
The Blue Angels were scheduled to perform in September at the former Navy base in Brunswick, where the semi-regular air shows have taken place for nearly four decades.
But sweeping federal budget cuts known as sequestration forced the high-profile aerobatics team to cancel its appearance, and the MRRA directors ultimately decided it was best to cancel the entire event without the benefit of their headlining attraction.
Before the air station closed as a military installation, admission to the air shows was free to the public and the two-day events sometimes attracted more than 100,000 people. The 2011 edition, which took place just after the base closure and included ticket fees for the first time because it was no longer sponsored by the Navy, featured the Blue Angels and drew 25,000 fans.
The following year, attendance reportedly increased to more than 40,000 as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds claimed the main event spotlight. MRRA has distributed proceeds from the events to local charities.
“We want to obviously cover our costs and generate some money for local charities,” said Levesque.
The next Great State of Maine Air Show will take place Sept. 5-6, 2015, at the former base, which is now called Brunswick Landing.
The Blue Angels perform during Fleet Week in San Francisco, Calif., in this October 2012 file photo.