220120ind airshowfile

A C-17 Globemaster III dwarfs the crowd at the 2015 R.I. National Guard Open House and Air Show at the Quonset State Airport. The summer, the air show will return to North Kingstown will have a new name, sponsor and focus on driving local tourism.

It’s now called the “Ocean State Air Show,” but despite the name change and a new sponsor, it will mostly be the same Quonset Air Show that has drawn thousands of spectators for over 20 years.

“The idea is that we are bringing an air show that is very popular and these shows are very patriotic and family oriented,” said Chris Dirato, spokesman for AirDotShow,  a national event management company that hosts and livestreams air shows.

The Air National Guard, in cooperation with the National Guard Association of Rhode Island, had hosted the show for over 20 years. However, neither group has the funding or the staffing to run the show any longer, according to the R.I. National Guard.


Ocean State Air Show

Now called “Ocean State Air Show,” it is scheduled to return June 25-26, 2022 at Quonset State Airport, after a three-year absence due to staffing issues and later pandemic-related cancellations.

This year’s air show will include several military and civilian performances. It will include aerial demonstrations from the United States Air Combat Command F-22 Raptor, the United States Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier, and the Rhode Island National Guard’s own C-130J and Blackhawk Combined Arms Demonstration.

Dirato said that the show this year will also charge an admission fee for the first time. Prices will range from $27 to $44, with the special $149 package called the “Flight Line Club VIP.”

This will offer tents for dining and shade from sun or cover from other weather-related conditions along with air-conditioned restroom trailers. A catered lunch is provided, with beer, wine, soft drinks and water, and parking.

“Our goal is also to help tourism by making this an event-destination for people to come to the local area, patronize businesses and enjoy the local scenery,” he said. More information about the show can be found at oceanstateairshow.com

“We are thrilled about the opportunity to engage with our community and demonstrate the joint capabilities of the Rhode Island National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Callahan, the adjutant general of the Rhode Island National Guard.

“This exciting new endeavor will elevate the show from a local event to an air show that can be enjoyed anywhere in the world while continuing the great heritage, history, legacy, and experience of the Rhode Island National Guard Open House and Air Show,” he said.

Established in 1992, the annual event formerly known as the R.I. National Guard Open House and Air Show has raised more than $1.7 million for Hasbro Children’s Hospital and many community charities.

With almost 80,000 spectators for the two-day event, they see a world-class display of aircraft and pilots ascend over South County, Quonset Point while bringing a feel of Rhode Island’s largest neighborhood block party.

“The air show has been a favorite summertime tradition for three decades, and I am excited to hear that it will return to Rhode Island skies after a three-year hiatus,” said Gov. Dan McKee.

Deployments abroad and pandemic restrictions forced the Rhode Island National Guard to cancel the traditional Open House and Air Show for the past three years. In the interim, the National Guard has worked diligently to find a solution to bring this annual tradition back to Rhode Island, R.I. National Guard Capt. Mark Incze told The Independent this week.


History of Air Shows

Daring pilots flew around the country during the 1920s to show off both their skill and the wonders of the flying machines, according to The Travel Channel.

Today, aviation aficionados travel to witness the daredevil aerobatics of the US Navy’s Blue Angels, the US Air Force’s Thunderbirds and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, and to see at the planes from past and modern eras.

Air “seasons” vary around the world. The United States enjoys a long season that generally runs from March to November, covering the spring, summer, and fall seasons, according to other published reports.

Some airshows are held as a business venture or as a trade event where aircraft, avionics and other services are promoted to potential customers.

Many air shows are held in support of local, national or military charities. Military air firms often organize air shows at military airfields as a public relations exercise to thank the local community, promote military careers and raise the profile of the military.

The types of shows vary greatly. While some are large scale military events with large flying displays and ground exhibitions while others held at small local airstrips can often feature just one or two hours of flying with just a few stalls on the ground, according to a review of these shows.

Air displays can be held during day or night with the latter becoming increasingly popular. Shows don’t always take place over airfields; some have been held over the grounds of stately homes or castles and over the sea at coastal resorts.

In this year’s Ocean State Air show, a C-130J Hercules helicopter along with the U.S. Air Combat Commands F-22 Raptor, a Blackhawk helicopter as well as the Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier will flown over spectators.

“The F-22 Raptor demo team, they bring that jet and it is very loud and everybody enjoys seeing those guys,” said Dirato.

Write to Bill Seymour, freelance writer covering news and feature stories, at independent.southcountylife@gmail.com.

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