Ground Traffic A Concern For Air Show Organizers
What organizers say will be one of the largest air shows in the country will be held later this summer in western Massachusetts. The “ Great New England Air Show” is being staged at the Westover Air Force Reserve Base at a time when the facility’s future is clouded by proposed Pentagon budget cuts. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports
The Westover Air Force Reserve Base in Chicopee will host what officials say will be the largest air show in the history of the base over the weekend of August 4th and 5th. Lt. Col David Heroux, the air show director said there will be more than 60 aircraft on display and airborne. The show will feature everything from the giant C-5 Galaxy, which is the largest aircraft in the US inventory to the small and speedy F-15. There will be a B-52 bomber from the Cold War Era and a B-2 Stealth bomber.
The theme for the show is a “ Salute To The Greatest Generation”. There will be World War Two reenactors complete with military equipment and artifacts from that era.
There is free admission and free parking for the air show. A volunteer organization, the Galaxy Community Council, raises money to cover the expenses the military can not legally pay for, such as the civilian aerial acrobats who will perform. Bud Shuback, the president of the Galaxy Community Council says the organization will also host World War Two veterans at a breakfast and air show preview on Friday, August 3rd.
The air show will serve as a public showcase for Westover’s role as a joint base for all reserve forces. Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette says $150 million dollars have been spent on infrastructure improvements on the base in last few years.
Mayor Bissonnette says the show could bring as many as 500,000 people into Chicopee.
The mayor says base officials and local and state police have been working for weeks on a traffic plan. There will be detours. Electronic signs will be put up along the Massachusetts Turnpike and Interstate 91 to advise alternate routes. Bissonette urges people to car pool and come early. The gates open at 8:30.