Local News

Blue Angel Crash May Scratch Appearance at Wings Over Wayne

Posted April 24, 2007 5:24 p.m. EDT
Updated April 24, 2007 9:21 p.m. EDT

— A member of the Navy's Blue Angels died over the weekend while performing at an air show in South Carolina. Now, it’s uncertain whether they'll perform next month at the Wings Over Wayne air show at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Wings Over Wayne draws thousands of people to the base every year. The show is free to the public, but it means big money for local businesses.

“The economic impact is really wonderful,” said Goldsboro Chamber of Commerce President Steve Hicks. “I'd say about $5 million for a show like this. We fill up all the hotels and restaurants.”

Many expected this year's highly promoted show to attract about 30,000 more visitors than last year's event.

“Its always a big boost when you have a performance team like the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds,” Hicks said.

The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform, but after last weekend's deadly accident, they’ve already canceled one upcoming event.

Col. Steven L. Kwast , commander of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, told WRAL late Tuesday that he had spoken with representatives of the Blue Angels to get an update.

According to Kwast, the Blue Angels strategy for returning to the air includes being ready in time to perform at the Wings Over Wayne air show. While the group can't commit with 100 percent certainty to their scheduled appearance, Kwast said organizers are encouraged that the Blue Angels are planning to be ready in time to perform at Seymour.

Organizers are hopeful the birds will still fly, and they are downplaying any significant impact if they don't.

“Our show this year has a variety of outstanding military acts that will perform in the show as well as civilian acts,” said Maj. Craig Lucey, who heads Wings Over Wayne.

However, billboards and other advertisements and the event’s Web site feature the Blue Angels. Organizers moved the air show from October to May to bring the group here.

Both officials at Seymour Johnsonand at  the Goldsboro Chamber of Commerce said that no matter what happens with the group, the show will go on.

“We think its will be a wonderful opportunity for people to come, regardless, but we are looking forward to having the Blue Angels here,” Hicks said.