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As Long as We Remember...

September 3, 2003

So Long, It's Been Good To Know Ya!

Mike Kuster

Organizers of the Wings of Freedom Air Show, the Commemorative Air Force Stars and Stripes Wing, recently announced plans to leave Frederick Municipal Airport.

Good Riddance!

The CEO of the organization cited the fees charged by the City of Frederick and the short runway as reasons for their planned move.

Is this guy serious?

The City of Frederick charged $5,000 to rent the airport. Do you know how much it costs to rent a nice country club for a wedding that lasts a few hours on the weekend? Rent at my club starts at twice the rent being charged by the city to hold up all flights and regular business at the airport for an entire weekend! That is just to rent the space for four hours.

The City of Frederick also charges for the services provided to the air show and required to keep Maryland's second-largest city working through this fiasco of an event. City employees work on the weekend placing barriers, directing traffic, providing increased security with the large influx of people, and doing so while maintaining normal services. The CEO of the organization guessed these charges would be roughly $12,000.

Big deal!

This $17,000 is not a lot of money out of the $520,000 budget he claims to have.

Should city residents pay for an air show or should the organization profiting from the air show pay?

Apparently, this guy does not follow the news at the airport, either. The airport is extending the runway, upgrading the surface, and may be getting a tower. These are all pluses.

Now, enter the politicians!

In liberal fashion, Alderman David Lenhart declares he will fight to give the Commemorative Air Force Stars and Stripes Wing whatever they want to keep them in Frederick. Perhaps he would like to build a new airport just for the air show. Next, he could build a football stadium and another baseball stadium with tax dollars.

Correctly, Mayor Jennifer Dougherty and Alderman Joe Baldi, city representative on the Airport Commission, stated that the air show's organizers cannot expect city residents to pay for the event. They also questioned the economic impact of an event that provides its own food vendors which deter visitors from eating at Frederick restaurants, and shuts down normal operations of the airport.

The City of Frederick does not pay for special events, period. Independence Day, the In the Streets festival, and other events rely upon donations to the City's Office of Special Events. The only financial contribution to the 12 sanctioned events is in-kind contributions of city services. These events are not run by outside organizations profiting from the event.

If the Commemorative Air Force Stars and Stripes Wing wants to move to Martinsburg, West Virginia, allow me to point the way. Such a foolish move will do nothing but further reduce their profit by taking them one hour further from the wealthiest part of the country. How many people are going to drive another 42 miles to Martinsburg?

So, off you go into the Wild and Wonderful!

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