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Lehigh Valley Airshow organizers tout more performers, less traffic at 2014 event

Lehigh Valley Airshow organizers say they’ll be a little more grounded about what happens on the ground during this year’s airshow at Lehigh Valley International Airport.

As for what happens in the sky above, spectators should expect the same caliber of action as last year’s show, perhaps even more given that military aircraft are once again eligible for participation.

LVIA and Mach 2 Management Inc., the airshow organizers, this morning announced the 2014 installment of the Lehigh Valley Airshow will be held Aug. 23-24 at the airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.

It is the second consecutive year the airport has hosted the event. Prior to last year, LVIA had gone more than 15 years without hosting an airshow. Like last year, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is the title sponsor.

More than 40,000 people attended last year’s show, far surpassing what organizers had expected. Although the high attendance was a welcome surprise, officials this morning acknowledged that it caused problems with traffic congestion and a lack of concession services.

“We had first-day problems,” Mach 2 President Skip Lehman said of last year’s show. “We have taken very serious measures to address those problems.”

Concessions, parking

Lehman said several changes are being implemented to alleviate traffic congestion and more concession services will be offered. Regarding traffic, he said more gates will be open at the airport than last year. That should go a long way to keeping cars on the move, he said.

“The big problem (last year) wasn’t the roads coming in,” Lehman said. “It was getting off the roads and into the (air) field.”

Organizers also plan to do away with a system that shuttled spectators from off-site parking lots; all parking will be on airport property.

Other changes in the works include a potentially larger car show to complement the airshow. And the lineup of performances, although far from being finalized, is expected to be different.

For example, there will be a vintage agricultural airplane and the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association plans to bring a team. The Harvards, known in the U.S. as T-6 Texans, flew training missions during World War II.

Lehman said organizers are hopeful to get military aircraft on the field. He said they’ve been in contact with military bases about opportunities. That wasn’t possible last year because of federal sequestration cuts that prevented military aviation groups from participating in airshows. Those cuts have since been lifted, opening up the potential for the groups’ presence.

Returning performers

Aside from the potential additions, some of the groups that were a part of last year’s show will likely return. A representative from the Misty Blues, an all-women’s skydiving team that performed last year, attended this morning’s news conference announcing this year’s show. The team’s coming back, she said. And Lehman said he’s hopeful The Black Diamond Jet Team will return.

Charles Everett, executive director of the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, said the two-day show will go on without disrupting commercial traffic out of the airport just as it did last year. He called last year’s show a great success and a strong vehicle for promoting the airport.

A Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem spokeswoman said in a statement that last year’s show was a tremendous success, and the company was pleased to sign on again as the title sponsor.

Lehman agreed.

“Last year was our first show in Allentown, and I think we pulled off a pretty spectacular show,” he said. “We will be even better than last year.”

As for ticket prices and when tickets go on sale, those details are still being worked out, officials said.