Air & Space show gets Melbourne's green light for takeoff

Melbourne, organizer have details to discuss

Headline Goes Here Florida Today

Into the rays of the sun. A T-33 from the Black Diamond Jet Team on Sunday, at the Cocoa Beach Air Show, as seen from the beach at Lori Wilson park.

MELBOURNE, Fla. - The inaugural Melbourne Air & Space Show has been cleared for takeoff.

Local 6 News partner Florida Today reports Tuesday night, the Melbourne City Council unanimously endorsed the Nov. 2-3 free-admission air show, which drew hundreds of thousands of spectators to Cocoa Beach the past four years.

"We've just seen universal support, from the hotels to the parking venues, to a lot of new sponsors coming out of the woodwork, a lot of potential partners," Bryan Lilley, air show organizer, told Florida Today minutes after the vote. "And so, we see this as a tremendous opportunity to save the air show and to keep its economic impact here in Brevard County."

The new show headquarters: Howard E. Futch Memorial Park at Paradise Beach. The Lakeland-based Black Diamond Jet Team may headline a lineup of civilian performers — the Air Force Thunderbirds, Navy Blue Angels and other military aircraft remain grounded because of budget cuts related to sequestration.

Lilley proposed the move to beachside Melbourne because the sponsor base for the Cocoa Beach Air Show "plateaued," forcing the event to remain reliant on Brevard County Tourist Development Council funding.

Now, Lilley and City Manager Mike McNees hope to finalize negotiations on a "term sheet" within the next 30 to 45 days for ultimate City Council approval. McNees said this document will detail parking and traffic-circulation strategies; an emergency services agreement; formal approval from surrounding beachside jurisdictions, and other topics.

"I can tell you that, from the logistics side, (City Hall) staff has some concerns about parking. But logistics are logistics. And they can be solved," he said.

Vice Mayor Molly Tasker asked whether the city's liability insurance policy covers air show accidents. City Attorney Paul Gougelman replied that he had "absolutely no idea," and he will research the topic.

McNees said the November event will be "a relatively minor air show" featuring civilian aircraft. But in the future, the air show may grow into much larger event.

Related activities this fall could include a street party in downtown Melbourne; a hangar party at Melbourne International Airport; and an air show performer party at Port Canaveral.

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