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Blue Angels air show coming to Buffalo's Outer Harbor

Thunder on the Buffalo Waterfront

COVID-19 and security concerns mean the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team will be conducting its summer air show at Buffalo's Outer Harbor instead of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

There has been an air show over Niagara Falls for many years, at three-year intervals. Niagara Military Affairs Council Chair John Cooper said Thursday the two-day event usually attracts around 100,000 people.

He said many of those who attend aren't interested as much in the state-of-the-art military planes of today, but want to see and touch the airplanes of World War I or II and modern small planes displayed on the grounds of the Air Base. That increases the security issues during the show.

Add to that a pandemic and it made a show in the Falls all too difficult this year, Cooper said.

"The Air Force Reserve Command just didn't feel that they could support having it at the base and take the responsibility," he said. "There is a huge security situation when you bring people onto a military installation, not including the fact that with COVID, it just increases that. So they just felt they could not do it on the base."

Given its new home this year, the show will be called Thunder on the Buffalo Waterfront. It will be held June 19 -- Father's Day weekend -- 12 p.m.-4 p.m. But Cooper said the Thunder of Niagara will be back.

"Oh, for sure. This is just temporary," he said. "The Air Force Reserve Command had made the decision that they could not open the base or hold the show on the base, due to COVID."

Cooper said the show isn't intended to make a big profit, but whatever is left over is spent on the military personnel on the air base.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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