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Thunderbirds to appear in Fargo in 2019

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform the "Diamond pass and review" at Travis AFB, California on July 30, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt Richard Rose Jr.)

FARGO—Can't wait two years for another Fargo AirSho? Don't worry, you won't have to.

AirSho officials confirmed Sunday, July 29, that the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are scheduled to appear in Fargo next summer.

According to the Thunderbirds' web site, the high-performance demonstration squadron will bring their F-16 Fighting Falcons to Fargo July 20-21, 2019.

The last time the Thunderbirds were in Fargo was 1989 - 30 years ago, AirSho Co-chairman Mike Haugen said.

"It will be a real switch," Haugen said. "It will be great to have the Thunderbirds."

AirSho Co-chairman Darrol Schroeder said the news has generated a lot of excitement.

After the Thunderbirds' 30-year absence, "it doesn't sound like we should turn them away. People are really thrilled, enthused about it," Schroeder said.

The Fargo AirSho has typically been the domain of the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, and this year was no exception, as the Navy and Marine aviators were once again the stars of the show.

Haugen said the lineup for next year's AirSho will start filling out in December, with bookings made at an annual convention in Las Vegas.

At least 15,000 tickets were scanned on Saturday, Haugen said, with another 1,000 to 2,000 people attending the AirSho as workers, committee members, or carrying tickets that didn't get scanned. Sunday's attendance appeared down somewhat from that, he said, but no ticketing numbers were immediately available after the show.

The AirSho appeared to have no serious glitches, Haugen said.

The weather was perfect, right up until about the last 20 minutes of the Blue Angels' show, when a shower popped up and the show was ended for safety, Haugen said.

That also led "to a mass exodus" to the parking lot by AirSho attendees, he said. "It was too bad because we had beautiful weather .... until the last 20 minutes of the show."

Haugen said a stunt-riding motorcycle act proved very popular with the crowds, particularly children. The motorcyclists performed during breaks in the aerial show to allow planes to land at Hector International Airport.

The transition to electronic ticketing also "worked really well," Haugen said.

In a quick tour of the AirSho grounds on Saturday, July 28, Schroeder said even as the show was starting, lines were short and people were moving through the main gate on 19th Avenue North quickly.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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