Air station starts work on Air Show 2010

Although officials at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort won't know until early next year if the Blue Angels will return in two years, organizers will begin work on the 2011 show, just in case.

The air station usually hosts the air show every other year but has postponed it if the Blue Angels don't include Beaufort on their schedule.

"They'll be invited back," said Gunnery Sgt. Chad McMeen, air station spokesman. "They're an integral part of this event. For years now, the event has been called 'Blues Over Beaufort.' It's a big draw for the community. People come in from out of town. The hotels book up. Air shows are good for the economy, and they're a big part of that."

The team, formally known as the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, performed Saturday for a crowd of about 110,000 during the first day of the base's two-day event. The team's performance Sunday was scrubbed about 20 minutes before its scheduled 3 p.m. start when heavy rain and lightning forced an end to the air show.

Despite the foul weather, McMeen said, the 60,000 people who attended the final day still saw quite a show.

"The weather held up for the majority of the air show on Sunday," he said. "Everyone got off-base safe, we didn't have any weather-related incidents. Base weather did a great job. They saw that storm rolling in at about 2 p.m., and told us we needed to start clearing the line."

McMeen said event organizers will have little opportunity to reflect on this year's success before planning for the 2011 show begins.

"It seems like a long time away, but it takes so long to plan an event like this that preliminary planning for the next show will probably start early next year," he said.

Attempts to reach Blue Angels spokesman Capt. Tyson Dunkelberger were unsuccessful.

The team left MCAS Beaufort on Sunday night, bound for Annapolis, Md., where it is scheduled to perform this weekend at the U.S. Naval Academy, according to the squadron's Web site.