Officials laying security plans for the Owensboro Air Show haven't had to work as hard this year as in years past, and certainly not as hard as in 2018.
Why not? Well, with years of previous air shows behind them, officials were able to draw on plans already made. Also, the reason the plans are simpler this year can be summarized in two words: Blue Angels.
When the Blue Angels flight team came in for last year's show, planning was ramped up to provide extra coverage of the flight area and to accommodate for the larger crowds.
While this year's show, which takes place this weekend, will include jets and other vintage airplanes, the lack of a high-profile team like the Blue Angels made planning a little easier.
"The plan wasn't that hard this year," said Owensboro Fire Chief Steve Mitchell, who oversees the security preparations. This year's plan is based on the one used in 2017, he said.
Providing security for the air show involves almost 20 agencies on both sides of the Ohio River, including the city and county fire departments, volunteer fire departments in Yelvington and Sorgho, fire officials in Spencer County, two emergency management agencies, the Coast Guard, AMR and the Red Cross, and law enforcement agencies like the Owensboro Police Department, Indiana State Police and Spencer County Sheriff's Department.
Sgt. Mike Page, OPD's representative in the planning, said the police department will staff the air show with officers who are not on patrol duty Saturday and Sunday so as not to affect staffing in the city's patrol sectors.
"We maintain our minimums in patrol," Page said. "... Any extra, we'll assign them to air show duty."
The planning includes response plans for everything from a plane crash to a violent event. Responding to a violent event "is kind of in our everyday training," Page said.
"It's something you don't want to think about, but you have to plan," he said.
Mitchell said the planning takes a lot of factors into account. "Every year, we do a thorough risk analysis that's updated right up to the day" of the show, he said. The main shows at the riverfront will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There will also be security at the airport for Friday's static air show.
A mobile command post will be set up downtown and will include a dispatcher dedicated solely to handling air show communications. The agencies can talk to one another on a common channel.
"We try to over-plan," Page said. "... We feel pretty confident at this point."
The more common events seen by responders at the air show are medical emergencies and lost children. Mitchell said the University of Louisville School of Nursing will have two first aid tents on either side of Smothers Park, and a third tent at English Park.
Since everyone at the air show is generally looking up, Page said parents should take precautions, such as taking a picture of children once you arrive at the show so if the child wanders off, you can show law enforcement a photo of the child in the clothes he or she is wearing that day. Another good idea is "taking a picture of yourself on your child's phone," Page said.
Last year, "I don't remember having even any lost kids," Mitchell said. "For the size of the event, it went pretty smooth."
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @JamesMayse