Westmoreland air show adds NASCAR fun; Thunderbirds’ status in question
Title sponsor Shop ‘n Save on Tuesday announced new NASCAR ground attractions for the 2018 Westmoreland County Airshow while the scheduled headliner, the Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, said goodbye to a member killed in a training accident last week.
The Thunderbirds planned to hold a memorial service this week for the fallen pilot, Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, and have canceled show appearances through April 21 “to facilitate support to the family and team, and to ensure the safety of flight operations,” the team’s leader, Lt. Col Kevin Walsh, said Monday. “Further cancellations may occur.”
Executive Director Gabe Monzo of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority said he doubted the Thunderbirds would drop out of the Westmoreland air show, set for July 28 and 29 at the authority’s Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.
“I don’t think that is going to happen, but we’ll deal with it accordingly,” he said.
Authority members paused silently at their meeting Tuesday to acknowledge the loss of Del Bagno, 34, of Valencia, Calif. Air Force officials said an investigation is underway into what caused the pilot’s F-16 Fighting Falcon jet to crash Wednesday during a training flight over the Nevada Test and Training Range.
Area residents who opt out of buying an air show ticket and content themselves with a glimpse of aircraft passing overhead “miss out on all the goodies here at the airport,” Monzo said.
Visitors to this year’s event will have a chance to test their racing skills in the No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Hellman’s NASCAR Racecar Simulator or be part of a pit crew in the NASCAR Tire Change Challenge.
Photo opportunities will include the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, the No. 18 M&M Kyle Busch NASCAR race car and a giant cow figure from Turkey Hill Dairy. The Shop ‘n Save supermarket chain will sponsor a “Shopper Chopper” cart that is 9 feet tall, has a 300 hp engine and holds 146 bags of groceries, and will present a year’s worth of free groceries to a local military family.
Log on to palmerairport.com for air show tickets.