Central Texas Airshow

RE/MAX jumpers parachute through the air in May 2019 during the Central Texas Airshow at Draughon-Miller Central Texas Regional Airport in Temple.

The Central Texas Airshow — which thrilled local residents for years — could return to the Temple airport in 2023 if municipal officials decide to budget funding for the event.

The last airshow was held in 2019. The event was canceled in 2020 and 2021.

City spokesman Cody Weems said city officials recognize the air show was a popular attraction at the Draughon-Miller Central Texas Regional Airport for many years.

“The annual air show was an attraction that citizens throughout the region looked forward to every year,” Weems said. “We believe this is an important event for our community, and we are evaluating the possibility of hosting an air show in 2023 as we work through the budget process. The city of Temple will share more details once we have them.”

The 2021 air show — described as “canceled” in April by spokeswoman Emily Parks — was never planned as city officials sought to make their own arrangements, the show’s organizer and the former Temple airport director both said.

“To set the record straight ... the Temple air show was not canceled ... it was unfortunately never planned thanks to the city of Temple,” Sharon Rostovich, former director of the Draughon-Miller airport until 2019, told the Telegram in a letter to the editor.

“Beth Jenkins, air show coordinator, went to city management last June to start the necessary paperwork requesting the military’s approval for a F-16 or A-10 demo team to perform at the May 2021 air show,” Rostovich said. “At that time, she was told the city would organize and conduct the show internally if they decided to have a show and sent her on her way.”

Held for more than 30 years, the event organized by the Georgetown Pilots’ Association started at the Georgetown airport before moving to Temple in 2003. The popular May event attracted more than 25,000 people to the city’s Draughon-Miller airport with a spectacle that included a weekend of vintage aircraft, plane rides and an aerial show with stunts.

The show was among the airport’s visitor events that led to an estimated economic impact of $1.7 million at the facility, which is frequently used by business clients who fly in and out of Temple as well as Fort Hood helicopter crews that train regularly at the site.

The city canceled the 2020 show because of the coronavirus crisis. When the Telegram asked about the show earlier this year, Parks said the city canceled the 2021 event.

City Manager Brynn Myers said the airshow takes more than a year of planning and budgeting.

“While no plans are finalized, we are confident we have the resources, facilities and experiences in place to put on a memorable show for our community,” Myers said.

Dozens of kit-built aircraft from the Falcon Flight formation flying team soared over Temple skies during a recent clinic, but local residents said it was a pale comparison to the dramatic air shows of the past.

Beth Jenkins, air show coordinator, posted on the Central Texas Airshow’s Facebook page about the dismissal of the Georgetown Pilots’ Association involvement in the event.

“It has come to my attention that the city of Temple told the Temple Daily Telegram that the Central Texas Airshow was canceled this year,” she wrote. “In reality there was not going to be a Central Texas Airshow put on by the Georgetown Pilots’ Association.”

Last June, Jenkins said, she had a meeting with Sean Parker — announced as the new airport director in November 2019 — to get permission to apply for a single-ship demonstration team for the air show.

“I was surprised when the new airport manager said that the city manager thought that the city could put on the show,” Jenkins said.

Parker — who did not return a call from the Telegram — said in a statement that requests for an F-16 or A-10 demonstration team are scheduled by the U.S. Air Force when those permits are filed.

“Because of changes in airport leadership, we are unaware if those (permits) were submitted by previous airport leadership or show organizers,” Parker said in the statement.

An open records request the Telegram filed with the city regarding documents on the air show was still pending Friday afternoon.

Billing issue

Jenkins said she had a conversation with City Manager Brynn Myers about an unexpected bill regarding Temple Police Department security for the 2019 air show.

“The city was told that our budget would be the same as the previous year for the police,” she said. “So I expected the bill to actually be lower since we canceled the Friday night show by 3 p.m. that afternoon (because of inclement weather.) When the bill came, I was very surprised that the bill was 66% more than the previous year.

“When I discussed the unexpected bill with the city manager,” Jenkins said, “she said they decided to have a bigger presence at the show. I had commented it might have been nice to let us know since the previous show the city police bill was a 29% increase from the show before that.”

Weems said in a statement that “off-duty police assignments are handled through the Police Department, not the City Manager’s Office.”

Weems said due to the changes in leadership at the police department, city officials “have been unable to confirm what was communicated to the event organizers in 2019.”

Parks said Myers was not involved in police-related security or contract discussions.

Rostovich said Jenkins is credited with bringing the air show to Temple in 2003 after it outgrew the Georgetown Municipal Airport.

“She has been successfully orchestrating this air show for 32 years,” Rostovich said. “It is a major undertaking requiring a year to plan and a costly one to boot. What the city may not realize is Beth took all the risk ... liability ... and absorbed all the expenses to host the three-day air show in our city. ... I think it is a shame the city dismissed her last year ... completely blindsided her.”

‘A great location’

Jenkins said the Draughon-Miller Central Texas Regional Airport “is a great location for the Central Texas Airshow.”

“The first 15 years working with Sharon Rostovich and crew was great,” she said. “The location is great for spectators and performers.

“I hope the city can continue the great show that was presented by all the hard volunteers of the Georgetown Pilots’ Association,” she said. “(I) want to thank all the spectators for 32 years of support.”

Weems said the city has set a goal of holding an air show in 2023 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the airport being named Draughon-Miller Airport and the opening of the airport’s new terminal.