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2009 Air Shows

Rochester International ESL Air Show

Location: Ontario Beach Park, Rochester, New York
Admission: Adult $13 at the gate $10 on line, children under 14 free, when accompanied by an adult. Preferred seating $22.50
Parking: Free but off site, $2 per per person shuttle buses, see below.
Value: Very good
The Rochester air show located at Ontario Beach Park, was moved to this new location from the airport for this year. The international content were provided by the Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds aerobatic team, and as air shows go, it had a smaller venue with limited number of current warbirds. The show was heralded as ESL Air and Water show. I guess because it was on the lake front and because there were a couple of small rescue demonstrations performed by the US Coast Guard. However, the show was more aerial than anything else, as there were no static aircraft displays. In many ways it reminded me of the Toronto International Air Show. It was a bit smaller in scale but with a better view point; facing north versus facing south and into the sun all day at Toronto’s show.
The actual air show was quite good, although the aircraft were not flown in order, nor all of the events taken place, as per advertised schedule. The show started with the US Army Golden Knights parachute team, but there was no heritage flight with the A-10, F-15 and the P-51 on Saturday. Since I was only there for Friday’s practice and Saturday’s show, I cannot say what took place on Sunday. The main featured attractions were the Snowbirds, and the nine Aircraft Aerobatic Team from Canada. And, did they perform with their precision flying! WOW! Even the weather decided to cooperate, as it was rainy and cloudy on Fridays’ practice, and it was overcast and quite chilly on Saturday morning. It started to clear up toward mid day Saturday, and it was sunny with plenty of blue sky for good viewing and for photography.
There was no direct parking at the show. The attendees could walk, take a bus, ride their bicycles, or for those who wanted to drive, there was free parking provided at the Eastman Business Park with shuttle buses for a $2.00 fee per person (Children and Senior Citizens at $0.50) for the round trip. There were plenty of refreshment and food stands, and plenty of free Red Bull Cola samples handed out. As the name implied, the attendees were able to walk and sit right on the sandy beach at the park, or simply stay on the grassy areas of the park. I did not see any issues of concern; there were plenty of security, and washroom or portable toilets. The event announcement was very good too, with clear guidance for the direction of approaching aircraft, without the useless trivia that is so common at other air shows. And that, was very refreshing!!
As for the volunteer staff running the show most were very helpful. Although there were some minor disorganization issues, a more informative web site with important details such as to office location and contact phone numbers, would help in the future.
I would like to thank two persons in particular: Barb Fullerton of ESL, and “AZ” who helped to straighten out my particular situation with the media pass.

And to that ‘other’ particular person, who has told me that “it sounds like I do not know what I am doing, being disorganized and I am having a wrong kind of attitude, and you should just withdraw my media pass,” perhaps you should pick your words with a bit more forethought. I wasn’t the one who wrote that my pass would be mailed out on May 18th, which indeed it wasn’t. Only to find out on the 28th when I finally received your phone number from someone else, and I called you on the phone, that now, “I had to pick it up in person on the 29th or I could take the bus on the 30th.” When I arrived at your offices on the 29th within the time frame you specified, nobody knew what I was talking about, and I was told to go to another location and find someone there who’s name I was not given, nor with clear directions as to where to drive and how far! That wasn’t very accommodating or helpful. Perhaps you enjoy running around in a strange city, without any clear directions or contacts, but I do not. Threatening to take away my pass because you lack clarity, follow through and organization, was very poor choice of words indeed.

In conclusion, I would rate the Rochester International ESL Air and Water Show as very good, despite the organizational issues, which would not affect the general public any way, and would recommend this show to all air show enthusiasts as a very good value for the money!

The following participated in the event:

US Coast Guard Jet Ski Demo

US Army The Golden Knights

F-18F Super Hornet aka Rhino

Tim Weber Geico Extra 300

F-15E Strike Eagle Demo

A-10 Thunderbolt II Demo

Rick Volker Sukhoi 26

Red Bull Skydivers

CF Snowbirds

Rating: 8.0 out of 10
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