Brunswick air show part of 2011 Naval aviation centennial

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BRUNSWICK — The redevelopers of Brunswick Naval Air Station will host their first Great State of Maine Air Show & Business Aviation Expo next summer.

Although the base is expected to be a civilian facility by then, the U.S. Navy will have a strong presence at the event.

Last week, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority announced the air show will be a so-called Tier 1 event, which means it will be participating in the Centennial of Naval Aviation. According to Steve Levesque, the authority’s executive director, the designation will create a beefed-up show, with more Navy aircraft featured in demonstrations and displays.

The show will be held Aug. 27 and 28, 2011, just a few months after the U.S. Navy is expected to vacate BNAS. The event will be headlined by the Navy’s Blue Angels – traditionally the top draw at previous BNAS air shows, which have attracted more than 250,000 visitors. 

The 2011 event will be the first hosted by the agency overseeing the facility’s civilian transition. Levesque said the air show has several objectives, including honoring the Navy’s tradition at BNAS, showcasing the facility’s assets to potential tenants and generating revenue for MRRA.

After the Navy’s scheduled departure in May 2011, the agency will takeover property and operations at the base, including the airfield. It is also responsible for marketing the existing infrastructure to companies that may wish to move to what will eventually be called Brunswick Landing. 

Proceeds from the air show could help fund those efforts, Levesque said. Unlike previous air shows run by the Navy, spectators will be charged to enter the base. Levesque wasn’t certain how much tickets would cost; he speculated the range would be $10 to $20.

Levesque said the air show revenues will be shared by selected charities and organizations that MRRA will rely upon to provide parking support.

In the past, the Navy used enlisted personnel and local law enforcement agencies to provide security at the air show. Levesque said security will likely be handled by local law enforcement, as well as the U.S. Marine Corps and the Army National Guard, both of which will maintain a base presence at a planned reserve center.

The event will take place the weekend before Labor Day. Levesque said MRRA plans to coordinate with the Maine Office of Tourism and the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber of Commerce to dovetail the air show with other summer vacation activities.

“We’re hoping people will extend their vacations and stay in the region a little longer,” he said.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or