Crowds thrill to Pease air show
Faith Bellen sits atop the shoulders of her dad, Fred, as they watch the United States Navy Blue Angels perform at the Service Credit Union Boston-Portsmouth Air Show at Pease International Tradeport on Saturday. The air show continues on Sunday with gates opening at 8 a.m. and performances beginning at 11 a.m. (GRETYL MACALASTER/Union Leader Correspondent)
Perfect planning and perfect weather helped the first day of the third annual Service Credit Union Boston-Portsmouth Air Show go off without a hitch on Saturday.
Attendance was comparable to last year, show officials said, but skies were clearer this year. And although temperatures were high, a steady breeze kept attendees comfortable during the full day of performances.
Organizers said the first year was a logistics and supplies disaster. Last year was better, but a low cloud ceiling curtained a lot of the air events.
Steve Wade is the executive director of the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire, which has co-produced the air show with the Daniel Webster Council — Boy Scouts of America, for the past three years.
He said visitors brought more chairs and umbrellas this year, and about 300 feet of additional frontage on the flight line added to the overall enjoyment of attendees.
This is the third year the Bellen family of Epping has attended the air show.
Christel Bellen, 7, and her sister Faith, 3, wore pink T-shirts adorned with images of the Blue Angels, cooling scarves around their necks and large protective earmuffs as they flew model airplanes and waited for the main event — the United States Navy Blue Angels.
“It has been great all three years. It is great fun for the girls. They enjoy watching the planes,” said mom Stacey Bellen.
The family loves planes, she said, often stopping at Pease to see if one might be taking off.
Before the United States Navy Blue Angels performed late in the afternoon, an impressive lineup of civilian and military performers wowed crowds at the Pease International Tradeport, including wing-walker Jane Wicker and crowd favorite Sean D. Tucker in his signature red Oracle plane.
Wade said he hopes people do not take for granted how special it is to have such an air show in New Hampshire.
The Blue Angels only do 34 performances each year, and for two of the last three years, they have chosen to come to Portsmouth.
Logistically, the air show has grown leaps and bounds over its inaugural event in 2010 when it seemed nearly everyone complained about traffic, parking, crowds and lack of water.
This year, everyone seemed to be enjoying the show.
Brandon Succi of Sunbury, Pa., came up to visit family and enjoy the show with his wife, Barb, and their two sons, Gavin Emery, 7, and Brandon Succi Jr., 6.
The senior Succi served in the Iraq War, and as a wounded warrior, he said it is nice to see the many ways veterans like himself are honored and recognized at such an event.
His sons were mostly into the fun.
“It's a lot of fun. There's a lot of stuff to do,” Emery said after climbing out of a simulated Blue Angels cockpit set among the acres of static displays.
Other young fans gave similar reviews.
“I think it's cool how Sean D. Tucker can pull off all those moves and the ziplines and all the things they have to do today,” Nicholas McGovern, 9, of Bow said in explaining why he liked the air show.
His friend, Dalton Gilbert, 9, also of Bow, liked pretty much everything about the airplanes.
“Walking through the planes, watching the air show, looking at all the planes, seeing them do the amazing tricks they do in the air,” said Gilbert in summing up why he enjoys the air show.
The show continues today. Gates to the Service Credit Union Boston-Portsmouth Air Show at Pease International Tradeport open at 8 a.m.
The Pull for Wounded Warriors will begin at 9 a.m., when teams of 25 people will attempt to pull a Boeing 757 airplane weighing more than 100,000 pounds as a fundraiser for the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire.
Air performances begin at 11 a.m.
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Gretyl Macalaster may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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