Wednesday, August 2, 2023–
-John Bailey, Rome News-Tribune-
Citing construction happening at Floyd County’s airport and the company’s work on another new show in a different venue, the decision to put off this year’s Wings Over North Georgia until 2024 was clear.
“It’s a business decision, bottom line,” said John Cowman, president of JLC AirShow Management.
Current construction at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport includes a runway extension, lighting improvements and work on the east and west taxiways and a north apron expansion.
A site design for a T-hangar is underway and two private hangars are also under construction. That’s what’s happening now. Recently the airport got a new instrument landing system as well as electrical upgrades on all T-hangars.
“If we’re going to take a year off, now’s a good time,” Cowman said.
JLC’s inaugural air show took place in 2012 and contributed an economic impact of $2.6 million to Floyd County. By 2017, the impact had grown to more than $7 million.
The pandemic forced a cancellation in 2019 but a pared-down air show was still the top revenue producer in 2020, with an estimated $2.7 million impact on the local economy. In 2021, it was one of the county’s two biggest events, along with Rome River Jam, according to the annual report from Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism.
The show features civilian and military aircraft bringing name-brand acts like the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels. In 2022 WONG introduced airshow racing.
However, despite the construction, the airport in Rome continues to host events. In May, the 2023 Mark Fullerton Bear Creek Bash aerobatic competition brought around 30 pilots from all over the Southeast to compete.
The airport also hosts the TigerFlight program with its orange tiger striped Alon A-2 Aircoupe “Twin-Tailed Tiger” airplanes.