DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The 43rd annual Vectren Dayton Air Show closed out with both high and low points, organizers said Monday.
The show tallied 44,000 spectators through the gates Saturday and Sunday. The count is 30 percent lower than average and organizers think several factors are to blame.
A Friday accident flipped one of the U.S. Air Force F-16 Thunderbirds and injured two airmen. The mishap grounded the headlining act for the entire weekend. The plane turned over during a heavy downpour that also soaked the show’s grass parking lots and left some of the spectator fields soggy.
“I think it was 2 folds, though,” Security Director Roger Doctor said Monday about the decline in attendance. “I don’t think it was just accident. I think that huge rain and everybody knowing what the conditions were, I’m sure kept some people from wanting to come out.”
Doctor praised corporate partners who allowed spectators to park in surface lots nearby the airport. The Air Show Committee fielded complaints about the traffic backup surrounding the Dayton International Airport, but Doctor said those who parked far away from entrances were shuttled to the gates relatively quickly.
It’s the second year in a row the headlining act did not perform. In 2016, the Navy Blue Angels cancelled their performance after a deadly crash in Tennessee. Doctor said he understands any frustration, but also said he still saw plenty of satisfied spectators over the weekend.
“I’ve tried to walk through and take a look at faces. And when you see kids just glued to the sky watching America’s best pilots, it renews my faith. It makes me say, ‘I want to be back next year.'”