Hugh,

 

This communiqué is several weeks late. As I mentioned to you, I was away

at the ICAS Academy, took a bit of vacation, and have been struggling to

catch up on my Airport Director duties. The real Airport world cranks along

even during airshow prep and production. One of my real challenges as we

continue to develop the show is to find a way for us to do the annual show

and not to neglect the normal management of the Airport. I am looking into

several avenues during this post-show evaluation period.

 

In my three years at Smith Reynolds, I think this the 2002 show is the best

we have produced. For some airshows, all seems to come together:

weather, advertising, promotion, correct mix of performers, etc. 2002 was

one of those years. We are calling our attendance 25,000 for 2002. This

compares to 19,000 for 2001 and 10,000 for 2000. Our "leading economic

indicators" show about an 15% to 20% increase over the previous year in the

various revenue sources. The firefighters' combat challenge and the

Tuskegee Airmen (promotion and publicity surrounding the TA Mustang) helped

the gate. We will have the FF combat challenge again next year, however

the time and/or location will be changed.

 

Some of the lessons learned:

 

We have to utilize more of the performer box for two reasons: 1) The

performers need more room to do the show, not at one end of the box. During

the show, most of the crowd is concentrated at the extreme northwest end.

2) The show is not making best use of the spectator area. Next year we

will move show center more toward the middle of the box/runway. Our crowd

line is somewhat limited by the terrain, but we must get the attendees more

toward the center of the box. This will provide more room for the growth

in the crowds in future shows and a better usage of the box by the

performers.

 

If we do another concert in connection with the show, we have to learn how

to increase the attendance. I am thinking of a Friday night concert and

pyro show or another Saturday night event with a named musical group.

Perhaps the concert should be promoted separately from the airshow.

Specific sponsorship for the concert is a must. Some old airshow salt

told me that most show attendees will not stay out in the sun 3 or 4 hours

to watch an airshow then go to an evening event for another 2 or 3 hours.

May be some truth to this.

 

After all these many years, we still do not have a rock solid means to get

an accurate attendance count. The bank of turnstiles we used this year did

not work. I think we will develop a ticketing structure to provide an

accurate count. Seems as if I have some notes on this subject from an ICAS

seminar.

 

Our show needs some kind of unusual draw such as the Tuskegee Airmen and

the FF Combat Challenge. I did not realize what an impact this type of

activity has on show attendance.

 

Last but not least, we are barely tapping the sponsor potential in the

area. Perhaps next year we will be able to mount a strong sponsorship

campaign. I am already looking into this. Meanwhile, my Airport duties

are ever present.

 

Hugh, no way exists for me to properly thank you for all you did for the

2002 show. Let's say I owe you many green stamps. I surely hope we can

find a way for you to redeem them in the near future!

 

Warmest regards,

 

Ed

 

Edwin R. Cox, Jr.

Airport Director

Smith Reynolds Airport

3801 N. Liberty Street

Winston Salem, NC 27115