By Alyssa Martin
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — Thousands flooded Columbus Air Force Base this weekend for the Wings Over Columbus Air Show, and local business owners say they’re pleased to have the extra customers.
High-flying acrobatics from the Air Force Thunderbirds and others drew big crowds. Unofficial counts showed cars from 40 counties in Mississippi and at least 18 different states.
“It’s just been a huge success,” said Lt. Tom Laitinen, Air Show Director.
It was the first time since 2010 that the Thunderbirds have appeared at Columbus Air Force Base. The show also offered a chance to show off the base, many of the military’s top aircraft, and special features from the Tuskegee Airmen to the Disabled American Veterans.
“Specifically here in Mississippi, we had several of these large aircraft that you see, around here right from Mississippi, so we got quite a bit of local flavor,” Lt. Laitinen said.
With a full cslendar of events, area businesses noticed.
“I would love to be this busy every weekend, this has been great for us,” Dow Ford, general manager at The Grill in Columbus, said.
Ford says the impact of the air show is huge.
“From a food service or retail standpoint, absolutely, the more people who can see your sign, see your business, be exposed to it, the better. It’s been great for us,” he said.
Columbus was one of only 14 bases to host the Thunderbirds this year.
The base also hosted a pilot graduation Friday.
Rain moved up Sunday’s performance schedule, but an estimated 45,000 people attended Saturday’s show alone.
3,000 were there, Sunday.