At Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Banyan Air Service is getting ready to host some high-flying guests. And Bruce Woodrell says he's ready.
"It's good to have the crowds back,” says Woodrell, Banyan’s Customer Relations Manager. “You know, you’ve got three-million people out to see the Air Show. It benefits everybody."
The last time so many pilots and ground crews prepared for high-speed passes and formation flights was 2007. After that, the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea show lost its main sponsor, McDonald's. But last year, a group of national and local sponsors stepped in. And this weekend, the extravaganza returns simply as "The Lauderdale Air Show."
"Some people have a hassle with it,” says Woodrell. “But you know, that's part of doing business.”
And most of the "hassles" during past air shows involved the traffic congestion and parking problems around Fort Lauderdale beach. Air Show President Bryan Lilley says planners made significant changes to deal with those issues.
"The full closure of the Sunrise-A1A intersection isn't going to occur until Saturday morning,” says Lilley. “And in the past, that was a day or two longer. So we went through a lot of planning to reduce that impact.”
Although the Air Show coincides with the annual Broward Navy Days Fleet Week, a scheduling conflict prevented the two events from joining forces. Even without the marine component, Air Show organizers say still there’s still plenty to watch.
The United States Air Force Thunderbirds are scheduled to perform, as well as the Navy Seal Leap Frogs and several civilian aerobatics teams, including the Black Diamonds.
But feats of aviation derring-do notwithstanding, some South Floridians are less than ecstatic about the Air Show’s return. And their concerns have little to do with traffic congestion and noise.
"If it were more of a civilian event, I would object to it less,” says Ed Wujciak of Hollywood. “I just hate having war, death, destruction shoved in our faces and called entertainment."
Susan Barnard of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea disagrees. “We need to celebrate,” says Barnard. “We've got great airplanes. We've got a great defense system. And these things are highlighted during the Air and Sea Show."
The show is also expected to be an economic boon for the city. No taxpayer money was used to get the event off the ground. And Fort Lauderdale Tourism Chief Nicki Grossman says businesses along the beach expect to pull in about $5 million in just two days.
"One of the neat things about this weekend is that it doesn't conflict with any other activities or towns,” says Grossman. “They have the beach all to themselves. And really, literally thousands of our residents are going to be able to enjoy something that they've missed."
There is, however, one thing no one involved with The Lauderdale Air Show wants to think about: South Florida's unpredictable weather. Organizers say that most pilots can fly around a passing thunder shower or two.
But Banyan Air Service Marketing Director Nancy Bouvier says that if there's any serious rainfall over the weekend, she and her colleagues are “going to cry.”
“Everybody's worked so hard to bring this show to Fort Lauderdale again,” says Bouvier. “So we're wishing for really beautiful weather."