February 14, 2006 in City

Skyfest clear for takeoff

By The Spokesman-Review

Fast facts

What: Summer air show

Where: Fairchild Air Force Base

When: July 29 and 30

Highlight: The Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada

Skyfest is back.

The annual summer air show at Fairchild Air Force Base will resume after budget and manpower considerations forced its cancellation last year, a base spokesman said Monday.

“We are ready to embrace the community,” said 1st Lt. Ethan Stoker of Fairchild public affairs. Skyfest 2006 is the perfect opportunity “to show taxpayers what their dollars are being used for.”

With few exceptions, the annual weekend event that draws about 100,000 people over two days has been part of the Spokane social calendar since 1962. The eruption of Mount St. Helens forced its cancellation in 1980, and it was called off again in 1994 after four Air Force officers were killed when a B-52 crashed at Fairchild during an air show rehearsal.

Last May, Col. Anthony Mauer, then commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, announced that Fairchild would skip Skyfest because of budget considerations in time of war, large deployments overseas and exercises in advance of an operational readiness inspection.

Skyfest costs about $115,000, which comes from the base’s general fund.

“The air show takes a lot of work to put together, but the base loves to do it,” Stoker said. “It’s good for us. It’s good for the community.”

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