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Roar of jets to fill the sky over Armuchee

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The sound of fighter jets, attack helicopters and stunt planes will fill the air above Floyd County’s airport days before the weekend Wings Over North Georgia air show in October.

An estimated 6,000 to 8,000 people are expected to attend the Oct. 21-22 event at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport in Armuchee. The performers — including the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels — are slated to arrive several days early for rehearsals.

Members of the Rome-based TigerFlight Foundation Demo Team were at their hangar Thursday to go over plans to fly the “missing man formation” in honor of fallen service members. Rob Deebel said the nonprofit also would be raffling off four flights, with proceeds to benefit their children’s foundation.

“We’ll probably draw the winners just before the Blue Angels’ last flight Sunday,” he said.

The first Blue Angel pilot is coming in on Oct. 18, airport general manager Mike Mathews told the Floyd County Commission in a briefing this week.

“You’ll hear some noise then,” Mathews said with a laugh.

All six military jets will be in Rome by the following day, when they’ll be practicing maneuvers from noon to 4 p.m. in small groups and as a team.

Meanwhile, the other performers will be arriving. Among the line-up are the Sky Soldiers Cobra Demo Team, the AeroShell Aerobatic Team, stunt pilot Buck Roetmann, the U.S. SOCOM Para-Commandos and two giant military cargo planes.

“They’ll take a lot of fuel,” Mathews told the board, referencing the gas sales that help fund the county-owned facility.

A full rehearsal is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. the Friday before the show.

The organizers, JLC AirShow Management, will be bringing in 10 to 15 buses of special-needs children to watch the rehearsal at no charge, Mathews said.

Private planes also will be arriving with air show attendees. Mathews said about 50 spaces are available and pilots will have to sign up in advance online.

“There will be a certain cut-off. After that, they’ll just have to drive in,” he said.

Ticket presales indicate people will be coming from at least 40 different states, JLC spokeswoman Tina Talton told the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau board. Floyd County residents account for just 5 percent of the presales so far, she said.

Options range from overnight campsites or premium “chalet” seating to a general admission family 4-pack still selling at the discounted price of $99.  Other discounts also are available in advance through the website.

General admission at the gate is $30 for adults aged 18 and older and $25 for ages 6 to 17, military and public safety personnel. Kids 5 and under get in free.