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Lawsuit seeks to block Planes of Fame air showLawsuit seeks to block Planes of Fame air show

A lawsuit filed in a California court seeks to prevent the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino from holding its annual air show scheduled for May 6 and 7 at Chino Airport.

The lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, alleges that the event obstructs and impedes other tenants’ businesses, in violation of the event’s licensing conditions. A hearing was scheduled April 20 in San Bernardino County Superior Court.

Planes of Fame, a nonprofit organization led by warbird devotee and air-racing champion Steve Hinton, issued an online appeal for supporters to help save the twenty-fifth annual air show.

 “The annual Air Show is one of the few remaining events in Southern California where visitors from around the world can enjoy the sights and sounds of aircraft from the Golden Age of Aviation flying overhead. Each year the Air Show attracts thousands of families, aviation enthusiasts, and others who come together to witness rare and historic aircraft, as well as some of the most talented aviators take to the skies,” the organization said.

An online petition in support of the event had gathered about 11,300 signatures by April 6. It noted that the air show is Planes of Fame’s “primary fundraising effort.”

Borchard & Callahan, a Mission Viejo, California, law firm, announced the lawsuit April 2 on behalf of several airport tenants including Yanks Air Museum, Flying Tigers Aviation, Socal MRO, Zangeneh Aeronautics, and AFT Center.

The plaintiffs allege that their business losses occur over a nine-day period required to set up the air show, stage the event, and take down its infrastructure.

All of the plaintiffs are in the aviation business and “love aviation,” said Frank Mickadeit, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, adding that his clients “are not anti-air show, they are anti the way this air show is being run.”

“This is something they have done with deep regret because they feel their hand’s just been forced,” Mickadeit said. “They’re trying to get some equity here.”

Facebook emerged as an early battleground for the dispute, with hundreds of viewers reacting to or sharing a message posted by Planes of Fame to announce the lawsuit.

Yanks Air Museum also weighed in on Facebook, with a post noting, in part, that the lawsuit was “a result of countless efforts to meet or collaborate with Planes of Fame over the last 16 years. They were well aware of these ongoing issues and chose to ignore them.”

Yanks Air Museum expressed disappointment in the impasse, adding, “We know how important Air Shows are to the aviation community and our intent is not to take this event away from the aviation enthusiast.”

The 2017 Planes of Fame air show is scheduled to feature more than 40 historic aircraft “performing for your enjoyment and to salute our veterans,” along with other performers, says the Planes of Fame website. This year the museum is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Airshow

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