As the 2017 air show season shifts into high gear during the next few weeks, millions of families have discovered a secret: The memories that children and adults take away from air shows are more vivid, more dramatic, and more tangible than any major league sporting event, concert or theme park visit…at a small fraction of the price.
The modern air show is a multi-sensory experience. Rather than mere spectators, visitors to air shows are more like participants.
The highlight of the day for many is the cascading sequence of performances in the sky, ranging from military demonstration teams such as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the USAF Thunderbirds to the awe-inspiring performances of aerobatic pilots, skydivers, wing-walkers, and vintage World War II aircraft.
And when eyes are not gazing skyward, families find an abundance of attractions on the ground: Actually getting to climb inside expertly restored, World War II bombers and massive, contemporary military transport aircraft; experiencing the thrill of virtual-reality flight simulators; and meeting and taking photos with all manner of air show performers.
“The richness of an air show experience for a family is like cramming a visit to a sporting event, an amusement park, and a circus into a single day,” says John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS). “From a family-entertainment perspective, there is no better bargain on the planet.”For comparison purposes, ICAS estimates the cost for the average family of four to attend an air show in 2016 to be $135, which includes admission, parking, a hot dog, a beverage, and two souvenirs for the kids.
By contrast, using the same criteria, the average cost for attending a major league sporting event in 2016, according to Team Marketing Report, is much higher:
- Major League Baseball, $220;
- National Basketball Association, $339;
- National Hockey League, $364;
- National Football League, $503.
The cost of an air show begins with an average adult ticket price of $17.50 ($7.50 for a child), which compares to $29.94 for an MLB game, $47 for a non-Disney theme park, $53.98 for an NBA game, $62.12 for an NHL game, $85.53 for an NFL game, $96 for a NASCAR race, $101 for a Disney theme park, and $104.46 for a Broadway musical.
And cost is just the beginning of what differentiates a day at an air show from other experiences, according to Cudahy.
“The food is plentiful and it’s good. The lines are shorter. And the range of activities and programs allow you to move around and have a variety of experiences in a single day. Air shows are patriotic. They’re exciting. They’re educational. They’re multi-sensory. And the combination makes air shows a fun and memorable experience for everyone in the family.”