TICO air show gets OK for takeoff this weekend

From the Florida Today new website:

A dilemma over airspace restrictions has been resolved between NASA and the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum.

Organizers of the 32nd annual TICO Warbird Airshow scheduled for Friday through Sunday worried a no-fly zone before Wednesday’s launch of the shuttle Discovery would interfere with the museum’s largest fundraiser.

“Clearly this is something important to the public and to the museum so we decided to be good neighbors and to make adjustments to our normal air flight restrictions,” said NASA spokesman Allard Beutel. “We can shorten it slightly without compromising safety and security of the shuttle.”

It was feared the no-fly zone would either affect the arrival of pilots for the air show, or that a shift in the shuttle launch schedule would force cancellation of the annual event altogether.

Col. Terry Yon, the museum’s public relations director, worried pilots would cancel because attending a two-day air show was not worth the expense. Rescheduling the three-day show was not an option because of arrangements with the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We were facing the possibility of some very dire consequences for the Warbird Airbird Museum,” Yon said. “It’s been a tough year for all nonprofits and this air show is our main fundraiser.

We critically need the fundraising dollars.”

The flight restrictions for a rocket launch would not affect the air show and Discovery’s launch may now have a positive impact on attendance and revenue. If the shuttle is scrubbed, Yon said thousands of tourists would be searching something else to do.

“Every time there’s a shuttle launch we have an increase in people coming in,” Yon said. “We’re hopeful of being able to hitchhike off of the launch and have people visit the air show and the museum.”

Yon said he has been instructed to have all aircraft on the ground by 4 p.m. the day of the launch and that would have virtually no impact on the show, which usually ends about 5 p.m.

“We’re good family with NASA. It’s just one of those things,” said Yon, who recalled another scheduling concern last March with shuttle Endeavour. “We seem to attract the shuttle to our little three-day window.”

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