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A Publication of WTVP

As a great year-end present to the River City and the tri-county area, Greater Peoria Regional Airport (GPRA) landed the Prairie Air Show for at least three years. River City Thunder will be flying into GPRA for the Fourth of July weekend.

An airport has clear economic advantages to the health and vitality of a community—a catalyst for business and industrial growth, attracting new industry, retaining existing industry, providing access to the world’s markets and tourism, convenience, employment, cargo, and shipping to name a few. Equally important, an airport should also provide activities, which redistribute benefits to people who may not have a direct need to use the airport facilities. An air show is one such activity.

Being supported by taxpayers, GPRA desired to bring a first-class, premier event like the Prairie Air Show to the tri-county area. We want this wonderful public facility to be enjoyed by all. The air show will further enhance Peoria’s image and its economic growth. This event will add to our air service for the many residents from downstate Illinois. GPRA staff, the FAA, and all of the airlines work hard with the promoter to provide you with an exciting show, while at the same time keeping the business of the airport going.

The promoter has already demonstrated a strong commitment to this new partnership here in Peoria. A minimum of 500 of our disadvantaged kids from Tazewell, Woodford, and Peoria counties will enjoy this year’s show at no cost.

In addition, air show proceeds will go to support a new Challenger Learning Center available for all central Illinois children. In 1986, the families of the astronauts, who tragically lost their lives in the Challenger Space Shuttle, began a not-for-profit organization, Challenger Center for Space Science Education, which establishes learning centers all across the United States.

A Challenger Learning Center isn’t a typical museum field trip. The kids will be transformed into scientists, engineers, or researchers on a simulated space mission, with a complete mission control and spacecraft. Kids will be a mission controllers and spacecraft astronauts. They’re anticipating starting the program in 2004. Who knows? Maybe one day we can proudly look out into the heavens knowing we played a role in one of our own children reaching the stars.

The Prairie Air Show promoter was drawn to this community’s wonderful can-do attitude, so please come out and celebrate this country’s 227th birthday at the air show. IBI

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