(Aero-News thanks our good friend Dave Weiman, editor and
publisher of Midwest Flyer Magazine, for the following article
regarding unsettling developments at a recent meeting in
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN -- Ed.)
The Deputy Executive Director of Operations for the Metropolitan
Airports Commission (MAC), Tim Anderson, proposed at the
commission's July 5 operations committee meeting, a formal policy
prohibiting air shows on MAC airports.
Commissioners claimed that they were interested in all aspects
of the issue, including safety, liability, insurance, public
relations, and financial, but heard only from one representative of
the Reliever Airport Advisory Council who was in support of air
shows at MAC reliever airports.
Information was apparently not sought from the International
Council of Air Shows, the Federal Aviation Administration National
Airshow Coordinator, nor from air show producers and airport
officials in other large metropolitan areas in which successful air
shows are held each year.
Anderson noted that he had been a
career military pilot prior to his work at MAC, and that he was a
great fan of air shows, but did not feel they were appropriate on
MAC reliever airports. He said staff had determined that only
Airlake and Lake Elmo airports would qualify to host an air show
under FAA airspace guidelines.
Anderson went on to show commission members numerous video clips
from national news networks of air show accidents, or accidents by
air show performers while training for air shows. He said that
although these accidents are statistically rare, they do occur
every year, and that MAC needs to put safety foremost by limiting
opportunity for accidents wherever possible.
Anderson also stated that some claims of potential revenue have
been overstated, and that MAC must retain control of all reliever
airports and not risk an air show accident that might prompt cities
or legislators to change the status of MAC operating a system of
Glenn Weibel, Chair of the Reliever Airport Advisory Council,
told commissioners that he could show videos of airliner accidents,
but airliners are still allowed to fly into metropolitan airports,
despite the potential for accidents, which would claim many more
lives than a small air show airplane piloted by one person, and
operating distant from spectators under Federal Aviation
Weibel added that the Reliever Airport Task Force had
recommended finding additional sources of revenue for relievers and
this would be a missed opportunity for both Airlake and Lake Elmo.
These two airports run the largest deficit in the system. He
concluded that he respectfully agrees to disagree with
Also speaking without any knowledge of the air show industry in
addition to Anderson was newly appointed MAC Chairman Jack Lanners
who said that air shows were great in a more rural setting, but not
in the metropolitan area. Again, there was no mention as to the
success of air shows in other large metropolitan areas including
Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington, DC, nor apparently
any interest among commissioners to seek out more information
before passing policy prohibiting air shows at MAC airports.
The commissioners all voted to pass the following staff
recommended action: "That the Management & Operations Committee
recommend to the full commission the adoption of a formal policy
prohibiting ‘air shows' and air show type flight activity at
all of its airports, and that the proper officers of the Commission
create and execute the necessary policy document."
This action was included in the consent agenda for action at the
full commission meeting July 17, and was approved. It was made
clear that this policy will not alter MAC's support of Crystal's
Open House, Lake Elmo's Fly-In, and Anoka County-Blaine Airport's
Aviation Days in which there are no air show performances.
The MAC policy could be challenged as MAC may control the
airports they own, but do not control the airspace above their
airports, which is controlled by the Federal Aviation
Administration. It is also possible to hold "off-airport" air shows
in open areas within the metro area.
MAC is also obligated to meet all federal grant assurance
requirements for any airport which has accepted federal airport
development money, and it could be argued that MAC is
discriminating against a form of General Aviation, and therefore in
violation of federal law.