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2021 ICAS Convention Highlights Air Show Comeback

December 14th, 2021

The ongoing comeback of the air show industry gained momentum in Las Vegas last week as 1,189 delegates gathered at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas for the 2021 ICAS Convention. A total of 561 event organizer delegates were there representing 151 different air shows, principally in the United States and Canada. That was 47.2% of all registered delegates and a strong indication that event organizers are already active in preparing for their 2022 and 2023 shows. 

Just over 36% of all delegates were at the convention representing military organizations, a somewhat higher-than-normal percentage and an indication that U.S. military bases are committed to holding their events during the next two years.

“Although overall attendance at this year’s convention was down 20 percent when compared to 2018 and 2019, the statistics and the anecdotal comments from the exhibit hall floor tell us that the decisions makers were with us last week in Vegas,” said ICAS President John Cudahy. “As one exhibitor said, ‘There were not a lot of tire kickers; we were talking to people with the authority to make decisions.’”

The 2021 ICAS Convention kicked off last Tuesday morning with a short video produced to frame both the challenge and opportunity facing the air show community as it plans the 2022 air show season. That video introduced an emotional and inspiring keynote address by Captain Charlie Plumb (U.S. Navy, retired) who discussed his time as a U.S. Navy pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam. Captain Plumb’s presentation was immediately followed by the announcement of the U.S. and Canadian military demonstration schedules for the 2022 air show season, as well as the 2023 schedules for the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds (see additional details below).

That opening general session set the tone for an especially energetic and forward-thinking convention that included more than 40 different education sessions with nearly 100 individual speakers, ten hours of dedicated exhibit time, and a number of social/networking events. The convention concluded with the traditional Chairman’s Banquet on Thursday evening, including the presentation of the ICAS Awards.