Weather conditions at the Great New England Air Show

CHICOPEE, Mass (WWLP) — With rain already coming down in western Massachusetts Saturday morning, you might wonder what that means for the Great New England Air Show.

There has been some rain Saturday morning, but the air show will go on, rain or shine.

The rain isn’t the main factor in determining what type of show you’re going to see, instead it depends on how low the base of the clouds are. Higher clouds, mean higher stunts, lower clouds mean a lower show.

The pilots of the various aircraft have a pre-planned “low show” and “high show” depending on the weather conditions of the morning and different aircraft have different weather requirements.

On Saturday 22News spoke with pilot and air show director, Lieutenant Colonel David Smith about what height they need the base of the clouds to be for the acts to perform the main “high show.”

“The formation team needs probably anywhere from 5 thousand to 10 thousand feet, the blue angels will need 10-15 thousand feet to do their full unrestricted show and some of the smaller planes can probably do it in less than 1 thousand feet so it all depends on the performer and what they’ve been trained to do,” said Lt. Col. David Smith.

The weather for the last air show at Westover in 2012 was hot, but they did have some thunderstorms over the weekend.

Weather is always a key factor in determining what planes can and can’t perform for spectators. Rain isn’t the main problem for pilots, but it’s the clouds.

The lower the clouds are, the closer the clouds are to the ground, the more restricted the planes are in where they can fly.

Lt. Col. told 22News, “For air shows the pilots need to have VFR conditions or basically be able to stay clear of the clouds or clear of the fog so they need three miles of visibility and if they don’t have that then they’ll do what they can, but that’s just one of the safest rules that we all abide by.”

The worst type of weather would be fog, which are clouds that touch the ground. Fog would most likely keep the planes grounded or flying at a very restricted low altitude.

Luckily we’re not expecting fog today so they’ll be able to get at least the low version of the air show underway.

Gates open at 8:30 Saturday morning and the air show officially starts at 10:00AM.

People were being turned away at the gate if they arrived before the gates opened at 8:30 Saturday morning, so clearly the enthusiasm is there, even if the weather isn’t perfect.

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