Airport and firefighters prepare for Rochester airshow

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Rochester airshow starts Saturday morning at the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport. More than a dozen planes will take to the sky for demonstrations including the Air Force Thunderbirds. This is the first airshow in Rochester since 2019.

There is some concern about the weather on Saturday as the forecast calls for rain, thunderstorms and wind. “Conversations will happen with the Thunderbirds, looking at the weather forecast, looking at what the current conditions are; they always retain the right to not fly if they feel it’s unsafe conditions, and we respect that,” explains Airport Director Andy Moore.

A meteorologist will be on-site for the event all weekend. If weather delays or cancels any high-flying acts, there is still plenty to see on the ground. “We’ve got a lot of great statics, we’ve got some A-10’s, we’ve got a bunch of helicopters, the Coast Guard is here, we’ve got some great vendors,” Moore says.

For the most part, regular air traffic will continue over the weekend. “There’s a lot of coordination with air traffic control and the air boss to make sure flights can come and go and the Airshow doesn’t impact that — but when the Thunderbirds are up in the air, there is a restriction within 5 miles of the airport; no flights or no air traffic whatsoever,” Moore explains.

The Rochester Airport Firefighters have been training for this weekend for the past year. They have specialized plans for each plane so they know the best way to reach a pilot in the event of an emergency. “All the crews train on all the acts and all the planes and in addition to that, when the planes actually arrived, we went out and did the specific training with those pilots on those aircrafts,” says Ken Stavalone, Chief of the airport department.

The firefighters haven’t just been training in theory; they have a rescue training facility where they do live exercises. “It’s actually a facility that is used by people all around the world; they come here to get their aircraft rescue training,” Stavalone says. So, the department is well prepared. “We have all our aircraft rescue firefighting trucks out by the runways where the performers will be and then the other half of our staff is actually in the spectator division, taking care of all the fans and spectators coming to watch the airshow,” he adds.

Any changes to the schedule due to weather or timing should be posted here: