Airshow repeat is not a done deal

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 12:00 26/04/2011
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The Classic Fighters airshow at Omaka is a great event, put on at great risk, organiser Graham Orphan says.

It is too early to say whether the show would be put on again in two years, Mr Orphan said.

The organisation team had yet to evaluate how it went financially.

"It would be folly of us to say that we would always keep doing it."

The airshow was put on to make money for the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and it had to earn enough to make the risk of putting it on worthwhile, he said.

"It's pretty scary if you're looking at running something that costs close to $1 million to run and none of that is seed money, it's all money raised through our volunteer efforts."

Bad weather could ground planes and scupper a show, causing a large loss.

"I have started to think this is aeronautical Russian roulette: [each time you think] will this be the time where we lose hundreds of thousands of dollars?" Organisers were keen to continue; they were just being prudent and mindful of risk, he said.

They would meet to refine the formula of the show and look at ways to make it more profitable.

They were also exhausted after months of voluntary toil and putting their lives and businesses on hold, he said.

"There's a lot of pluses, a lot of good things about it; it's difficult to have too many negatives. All we have is caution."

The show was lucky to have great support from businesses and the Marlborough community, he said. "A huge salute to the volunteers, and the sponsors are just legends that are, in most cases, unnamed."

Airshow financial officer Brian Greenall said the weather had discouraged some people from attending this Easter, but he did not think the price of entry would have been a deterrent.

"If the weather had been beautiful blue sky, we would have had more people.

"It's not expensive considering the price of going to the rugby or going to a show at the theatre."

The show also attracts many people to Blenheim every second Easter weekend, pumping money into Marlborough's economy.

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce general manager Brian Dawson said the show was fantastic for Marlborough, encouraging many people to visit and making them think about returning for more holidays. Retailers were busy on Saturday  the only full day they were allowed to open over Easter  but it was a shame they could not have been open all weekend to take advantage of the airshow visitors, he said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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