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Wings Over North Georgia Weekend Draws 83,000 Attendees

Photo by: Charles A. Atkeison

ROME, Ga. — The Navy’s Blue Angels and a strong performer line-up drew over 83,000 guests through the gates of the Wings Over North Georgia Airshow over the weekend.

The October 21st and 22nd airshow was highlighted by the inclusion of not only the Blue Angels, but seven-time champion aerobatic pilot Rob Holland; the AeroShell Aerobatic Team, the Smoke-and-Thunder Jet Car and jet truck, and the US SOCCOM Para-Commandos who kicked off the airshow.

Photo by: Charles A. Atkeison

“While great weather certainly attributed to the growth, the involvement of leading world-class performers and air show headliners, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels generated even broader regional interest than past events,” JLC Airshows Management President John Cowman said late on Sunday. “The Rome, GA-based show was one of four remaining performances for the elite naval air demonstration team’s 2017 schedule.”

Video by Sean Bowen.

As the engines of the six blue and yellow jets of the Navy’s elite Flight Demonstration Squadron roared to life, time stood still along the crowd line as each attendee paused for their forty-minute flight demonstration. The popularity of the Blue Angels combined with great weather gave the Wings Over North Georgia their largest attendance days in six years.

And for the Blue Angels, the north Georgia event was a top show site on their busy schedule.

“If we were to attend the big shows every year, such as San Francisco or New York, we would get almost the same people every year,” said Blue Angels Commander Frank Weisser . “So it’s very important to us that we spread the wealth, and take naval aviation to places that do not have a big naval aviation experience or community.”

Photo by: Charles A. Atkeison

CDR Weisser enjoys the smaller shows, such as north Georgia, because of the crowds unfimilar with the Blue Angels. “It’s important to us to get to the north west, the mid west, and the plains, because there are a lot of kids there who don’t think they can join the navy and fly airplanes, they think they have to join the air force.”

Aerobatic pilot Rob Holland, who can make his MXS-RH aircraft dance across the sky and then perform jaw-dropping gravity defying loops and turns, performed each afternoon above the Richard Russell airfield. Of his aircraft, Holland exclaimed, “I put it on like a pair of pants, and take it with me.”

Photo by: Charles A. Atkeison

“I have a few maneuvers I like, like tumbling end-over-end, but it’s really about the whole performance,” Holland said on Friday as he stood poised near his red and black aircraft. “Putting together a good show from start to finish and making it all work. That’s what gets me excited.”

Smoke-n-Thunder Jet Car introduced their new Jet Truck to airshow attendees over the late-October weekend. Each performed with the thunder and flames produced by jet engines as they raced down the runway.

Photo by: Charles A. Atkeison

Cowman and his staff will soon turn their focus toward planning the seventh annual north Georgia airshow. A tentative weekend date of October 13-14, 2018, will be firmed up in the coming months; and several headline performers will be announced following December’s airshow performer and officials meeting in Las Vegas.

(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)

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Charles Atkeison

Written by Charles Atkeison

Charles A Atkeison is a long time aerospace journalist having covered both military and civilian aviation, plus 30 space shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral. He has produced multimedia aerospace content for CNN, London's Sky News, radio, print, and the web for twenty years. From flying with his father at age 5 to soaring as a VIP recently with the Navy's Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbirds, Charles continues to enjoy all aspects of flight.

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