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Thunder Over the Valley Air Show Takes Two-Year Pause

Santa Maria Museum of Flight organizers decide to cancel annual air shows for 2016 and 2017

The Thunder Over the Valley air show at the Santa Maria Public Airport is canceled for the next two years.
The Thunder Over the Valley air show at the Santa Maria Public Airport is canceled for the next two years.  (Noozhawk file photo)

Organizers of Thunder Over the Valley in Santa Maria have grounded the annual air show for at least two years amid financial woes and disputes.

Mike Geddry Sr., chief executive officer of the air show organized by the Santa Maria Museum of Flight, confirmed the 2016 and 2017 shows won’t take place.

“We are going on hiatus for two years,” Geddry said.

Cancelation of the show came as a surprise to Chris Hastert, general manager of the Santa Maria Public Airport District.

“I didn’t know they had officially canceled it,” Hastert said.

In October, the airport board of directors decided against giving the air show organizers money for safety, security and sanitation expenses until museum officials provided the requested financial statements. 

Over the years, the special district has provided between $10,000 and $15,000 to help with specific expenses for the air show, which traditionally is held in late August.

Hastert said the board sought to verify the air show was not operating at a financial loss.

Documents received by airport officials revealed the air show lost $20,000 in 2014, according to Hastert, who estimated in October that the 2015 show’s loss likely was similar.

On a Go Fund Me site, Geddry said seven months ago that the 2015 show had lost $8,000, contending sponsors who pledged to financially support the show never provided the funding.

He said this week the number actually is closer to $14,000.

“In fact, we would have broken even if all the pledges were paid and they weren’t,” he said.

Airport board members sought financial review of air show documents before the 2015 show, but Geddry said the nonprofit organization only had to provide limited information.

Geddry contended the air show is the victim of a smear campaign, including allegations he misappropriated funds.

“There is so much that’s tied to this whole thing. It’s not just the air show; it’s the fact I fought them on the lease. I fought them on safety issues,” Geddry said.

He claimed the Museum of Flight passed an Internal Revenue Service audit, a review Geddry contends was spurred by critics of the organization.

If Thunder Over the Valley doesn’t occur, the airport would like to hold an event, such as an open house to highlight aviation-related businesses operating on the airfield, Hastert said.

“Our board is very supportive of the museum and having an air show, and would welcome the opportunity to re-look at things,” Hastert added.

The air show didn’t take place in 2013 due to severe defense budget cuts and limited sponsors, but returned for 2014 and 2015.

The Museum of Flight has held an annual aviation event for more than 20 years, initially hosting the P-51 Mustang and Warbird Round-up to highlight vintage aircraft, with some flight demonstrations. 

The event later evolved into Thunder Over the Valley, which focused on civilian and military aerial performances.

In recent years, the Santa Maria event has been held on the same weekend as Wings Over Camarillo.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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