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2011 Mountain Thunder Air Show cancelled

With no entity willing to take over the reins, the Mountain Thunder Air Show will not take place in August, as previously anticipated.

Airport Manager Bill McKown announced the cancellation of the show at Stevens Field in a memo Monday which, in part, simply stated, “It is with regret that I officially announce the cancellation of the Mountain Thunder Air Show 2011.”

Monday was the deadline the Airport Advisory Commission set to find another entity with the financial and personnel resources needed to produce the air show.

AAC member Mike Arbuthnot told the commissioners in early January that, unless another entity took over production of the show, it had little chance of success.

At the time, Arbuthnot reported that, to date, McKown had received only a “handful” of volunteers and contributions to the show.

“This event is rapidly becoming beyond any chance of success,” Arbuthnot said at the time.

No major flight teams had been booked for the show and the AAC feared that a show falling short of community expectations would damage the airport’s reputation.

In the memo announcing the show’s cancellation, directed to “Commissioners and Friends,” McKown thanked those involved for their support over the show’s 18 months of planning, but stated, “I sincerely regret that the overall community support was not present so that we could have continued with our plans for the Mountain Thunder Air Show 2011.”

McKown continued to state in the memo that, in his estimation, “this event would have exceeded the projected economic impact of one million dollars for a weekend and provided special entertainment for residents and visitors alike.”

In an interview Wednesday, McKown said hopes for a future air show are not dead — a sentiment Archuleta County Commission Chair Clifford Lucero echoed.

“I’d love to get something in the future,” Lucero said.

McKown said the timeline for a future show is undetermined right now with the local economy still “growing out of” its woes.

McKown said he has had early discussions about holding collaborative meetings with various groups with the wherewithal to allow a show to get off the ground — tourism groups, the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation and airport and county staff.

While hoping that collaborative meetings would help set the stage and “grow” a future air show, McKown said “the big thrust” for the show would be a group taking ownership of the show in regards to sponsorship and fund-raising.

“All the infrastructure is there,” McKown said, adding that, “we’ll just suspend what we’ve got right now and look to the future.”