Flight Festival running a deficit with the wind at its back

This year’s Flight Festival at Jabara Airport lost $160,000, but city council members saw silver lining in the red ink — the festival lost $30,000 less than it did in 2006. And with that they gave the informal go-ahead for the city to sign a new contract for next year’s air show with Wichita Festivals Inc., which organized the event the past two years. The council will vote on the new contract in the next month or two.

Janet Wright, executive director of Wichita Festivals Inc., told the city council last week that rain, a late start recruiting sponsors and big spending on a musical act probably all contributed to the financial loss. Only 1,300 people attended the festival on Friday, when the Commodores played under rainy skies. Saturday and Sunday showed a recovery with a combined 7,800 in attendance, but it was not enough for the festival to make money. Wright said that if promoters can get a quicker start recruiting corporate sponsors that want to get their name out there, the event will not lose as much money. Wright also said she’ll consider reducing the music budget significantly, even if it means they get something a little less marketable than the Commodores. Wright also plans to send in applications to the Department of Defense to see if Wichita can score the Thunderbirds, Blue Angels or other military planes that might help attract a larger crowd.