DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Despite attendance being down nearly 25 percent, Dayton Air Show staff are still calling the 2019 weekend a success.
A soggy week turned into a pleasant weather weekend for the estimated 49,000 visitors. Public Safety Director Roger Doctor explained relatively cooler temperatures kept heat exhaustion at bay, with a handful of people treated on-site and two to three transported to hospitals.
“It cleared out very nicely for us Saturday and Sunday. We had a great show both days,” said Scott Buchanan, the Dayton Air Show’s chairman for the U.S. Air and Trade Show Board.
Challenges persisted from rain earlier in the week. Wet, muddy fields forced staff to move parking onto a distant paved lot at the former Emery/UPS Freight facility on Old Springfield Road.
“We could not park on the grass at all. It’s still soaked out there,” said Buchanan. “But we made the best of what we had and the assets we could get.”
Buses from Buckeye Charter shuttled everyone from the parking lot to the Air Show entrance. Typically, only 30 percent of visitors use shuttles, so the 70 percent increase from the alternate parking plan increased costs and wait times for passengers. After noticing the long lines, the RTA voluntarily used buses from its nearby park-and-ride service to assist with transporting visitors.
“If it’s a situation where we have to bus 100 percent of the people here, it’s going to be a slow process,” said Doctor. “There just isn’t any way to speed that up.”
Doctor praised law enforcement, Buckeye Charter, and the RTA for their organization and the Dayton International Airport for accommodating the changes.
“The only alternative, besides using that [parking plan], was to cancel the show. And that is not an option. The show must go on,” Doctor said.
Air Show staff will debrief and make necessary adjustments for future years. They’re already planning the 2020 show featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.