10/11/06 — Airshow will bring big bucks to county

View Archive

Airshow will bring big bucks to county

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 11, 2006 1:53 PM

Some will stay the weekend. Others, might just pass through town.

But all those who travel to Goldsboro Sunday for the Wings Over Wayne Airshow will likely have one thing in common, Wayne County Chamber of Commerce executive director Steve Hicks said -- an open wallet.

"We're talking a little over $1 million in overall impact for just this weekend," he said. "It's just amazing what a large number of people can do."

Hicks added his estimate is based on the expectation that more than 50,000 people will come out for the event -- an attendance mark usually eclipsed by a few thousand when the Thunderbirds come to town, he said.

"In the past, we have seen crowds of close to 60,000 for the Thunderbirds," Hicks said. "But this year, it's not just about them. People want to see what these men and women do on a day-to-day basis."

The typical traveler spends about $20 a day, he added. That's why Hicks estimates anywhere from $1 to 1.5 million in economic impact.

But the F-15E Strike Eagle Demonstration Team and the Army Golden Knights also are expected to draw a large number of spectators, Travel and Tourism director Betsy Rosemann added, which could ultimately lead to more money coming in.

"Typically, it is a very, very busy weekend for the community," she said. "But this year, we're anticipating that the event will be particularly successful."

Wings spectators are expected to spend money at dozens of places, Hicks said -- on food, gasoline, a place to stay the night or an American flag.

"Whether they're topping off their tank with some gas or stopping at Wilbur's for lunch, they'll be spending," he said.

And as it does every year, the airshow will show all residents, from local business owners to government officials, just how much Seymour Johnson Air Force Base does for Goldsboro and Wayne, Hicks added.

"There is no doubt that what this is a real symbol of how much this base means to Wayne County," he said. "They're coming to see what our men and women do every single day."

But spending a day on base, looking skyward for a glimpse of America's military capabilities is about more than dollars and cents, Hicks said -- it's about having the opportunity to say "thank you" to those who fight in the name of liberty around the world and here at home.

"It's the idea that a man or woman climbs into that plane, or loads that bomb," he said. "They fight for our freedom. That's what this thing is all about."