PITTSTON TWP. — With planes and jets flying high above, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport officials hailed the kick-off of this weekend’s Northeastern Pennsylvania Air Show.
Carl Beardsley, airport executive director, said after years of hoping and at least one year of extensive planning, the Air Show is back after a 17-year hiatus.
“Today, we can begin to see the fruits of our labor,” Beardsley said Friday as planes practiced nosedives. “You can call this the wedding rehearsal — tomorrow and Sunday will be the celebration. We are extremely happy to put on this Air Show for the community.”
The show will feature several well-known acts:
• The U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team
• The U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight Team
• An F-22 Raptor demo team
• A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet demo team
Additional civilian attractions, like antique planes and stunt aircraft, will take part, plus a number of food vendors will be set up to feed the crowd.
Gates open at 9 a.m. and shuttle buses will be available to and from the Air Show. Shuttle buses will run continuously beginning at 8:30 a.m. each show day.
“We have an incredible line-up that includes some of the most talented pilots, parachutists, crews, and wing walkers that the world has ever seen,” Beardsley said.
Tim McGinley, chairman of the Bi-County Airport Board, said weather forecasts for this weekend look promising.
“It’s been a long 17 years since the last one,” he said. “So come out and support this great event and the terrific performers.”
Randy Ball, a pilot from Texas, will perform with a rare airplane — a Russian MiG-17PF that was used in the 1960s as an all-weather radar interceptor that also carried missiles.
“This plane is really one of a kind,” Ball said. “We only do a select few air shows and we wanted to come here. Every time I get to fly this plane I get giddy.”
The Pennsylvania Turnpike advises motorists that because of the show, the Northeastern Extension (I-476) will be closed to traffic between the Wyoming Valley Interchange, Exit 37, and the Clarks Summit Interchange, Exit 39, during these times:
• Saturday, 12:45 to 4 p.m.
• Sunday, 12:45 to 4 p.m.
Several detours are slated to safeguard motorists from aircraft that will be flying over the roadway during Air Show performances:
• Northbound traffic will exit the turnpike at the Wyoming Valley Interchange onto Interstate 81-North.
• Southbound traffic will enter the turnpike at the Wyoming Valley Interchange.
• Motorists traveling to the Air Show should take the Avoca exit onto I-81.
State Police and Turnpike personnel will be positioned at the impacted interchanges to assist drivers. Motorists are encouraged to plan travel accordingly.
Beardsley said free parking will be available at the Northeast Fairgrounds with free shuttle service to the airport. Luzerne and Lackawanna counties’ transit systems will provide the service.