By editorial board • 

Air show could propel airport to new heights

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but ... Wheee! We’re going to have an air show!

OK, Settle down. It’s not a done deal, yet.

Organizers of the Oregon International Air Show are conferring with city officials about moving their annual event from Hillsboro to McMinnville. And frankly, that’s where it belongs.

Nothing against the Hillsboro Airport, but with the Spruce Goose and Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville deserves to be considered Oregon’s center of all matters aviation.

No one has signed on the dotted line. However, organizers have begun applying for permits.

For the air show to become more than pie in the sky, organizers must find a way to address local logistical concerns, foremost among them providing security for such large crowds.

Hillsboro, Beaverton and Washington County have met that need at the present location, but McMinnville and Yamhill County don’t have resources rising anywhere near the same level.

Organizers are conferring with city and county officials to make their pitch. They say the Sept. 20 to 22 event could pump $5.5 million into the local economy, as it’s expected to draw 15,000 visitors daily.

The show’s own profits would be funneled back to charitable causes in the form of grants. And a substantial percentage of those beneficiaries could be local.

The city isn’t about to strike a deal placing an overwhelming burden on its emergency and other services. But we hope the two sides reach an agreement.

McMinnville Municipal Airport (MMV) has been through plenty of ups and downs in recent years.

A rotation in fixed-base operators and managers has interrupted operations. Its welcoming terminal is a modular — which is actually an upgrade to the previous one. And, recently, there was contaminated fuel tanks, delays in the $8 million restoration of the main runway, and a sight-obstructing line of trees along Highway 18.

On the bright side, these challenges have been or are being addressed, and the fixed-base operator, Potcake Aviation, which oversees day-to-day operations at their airport, is heavily invested with its new million-dollar-plus hangar.

The airport remains one of the best in the region, and now could well be its time to soar.

The air show could help the airport achieve its potential, outweighing the projected infusion of $5.5 million into the local economy. Raising the profile of the airport and showcasing all it has to offer would keep paying dividends throughout the year.

Hosting the Oregon International Air Show could be a major development for McMinnville and the surrounding area as well, rivaling the UFO Festival as a celebration of things originating from the sky.

There’s just enough promise here to whisper a small but energetic, “whee.”


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