Chennault bringing airshow back to Lake Area

By Special to the American Press

An annual local airshow for Southwest Louisiana, once a tradition in an area steeped in military and aviation history, is

being re-imagined and revived as the Chennault International Airshow.

The airshow will take to the skies Sept. 28-29, 2013. The reboot will be coordinated and hosted by Chennault International

Airport, which has an 10,700-foot runway that can handle every type of aircraft flying today.

“We’re excited to be bringing the

airshow back to Southwest Louisiana after so many years,” said Randy

Robb, Chennault’s executive

director. “The people of our community deserve of it, and we’re

committed to presenting a top-quality event for years to come.”

Among the scheduled performers for the

airshow will be the internationally known AeroShell Aerobatic Team, a

precision North

American AT-6 “Texan” flight demonstration team. The group flies

vintage planes of the same type used to train pilots during

World War II, Robb said. The six-member team — which includes

Louisiana native Jimmy Fordham — has performed for more than

25 years. The pilots are sponsored by Shell Oil’s AeroShell

Lubricants.

Past airshows — the last one was in

1997, staged by others — were long popular with crowds but were

eventually beset with

financial and logistical problems. Now, in making its own first

steps into the airshow arena, Chennault is assembling civic,

business and government leaders for partnerships to handle all

phases of the airshow.

It was Robb’s idea, based on suggestions heard many times from the community, to revive the airshow. Robb, a pilot and U.S.

Navy veteran, has extensive aircraft knowledge and contacts in both military and commercial aviation.

Spearheading the airshow will be Megan McLellan, Chennault’s new director of sales, marketing and development.

“We’re looking forward to a positive

event for all ages — a success that will be made possible through the

partnerships and

sponsorships that we forge throughout the community,” said

McLellan, who recently joined Chennault from the Baton Rouge office

of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Robb stressed that Chennault will not use airport funds, only its facilities, for the airshow. The event’s budget will come

from sponsorships, tickets and other revenue.

The airshow is chartered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and governed by a volunteer board of directors chaired by Robb.

A committee of community representatives meets in Chennault’s boardroom monthly to discuss event logistics, donations of goods

and services, airshow best practices and opportunities for both air performances and ground displays of aircraft, McLellan

said. Volunteers are welcome to be a part of the process, and sponsorship proposals for area businesses are in the process

of being prepared.

For preliminary information on the airshow, email McLellan at mmclellan@chennault.org or visit the Chennault International

Airshow page on Facebook.