Unity airport to host Thunderbirds, display Palmer gumball portrait
Favorable weather, a tribute to late Latrobe native Arnold Palmer and the return of the Blue Angels Naval aerobatics demonstration team combined to draw in excess of 150,000 people to this year's Shop 'n Save Westmoreland County Airshow, county Airport Authority officials estimate. Attendance was pegged at 150,000 three years earlier, when the Blue Angels made a previous visit to the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.
Member Don Rossi suggested to the authority board Tuesday that the number of spectators for the June 24 and 25 show may have approached a quarter million, considering all who watched from a hillside outside the airport grounds.
“Everybody did a magnificent job,” said fellow board member Ed Kilkeary. “That was the best show.”
The Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team will headline next year's show, set for July 28 and 29, Rossi said.
A jet that belonged to Palmer, who was an authority member and a pilot, and the tractor the golfing legend made famous in Pennzoil commercials were displayed during the airshow.
On permanent display at the airport bearing his name will be a mosaic likeness of Palmer that was created with gumballs at the recent Westmoreland County Arts & Heritage Festival.
“We'll find a place for it,” authority Chairwoman Janice Smarto said of the unique art piece.