Great Tennessee Air Show – worst parking ever!

Miss D. and I went to the Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna, TN today.  The show itself was interesting, particularly the performance by the Blue Angels, who are always spectacular.  However, the parking situation was the worst I’ve ever encountered at such an event.  Getting in and parking took over 40 minutes, but getting out after the show was a nightmare!  It took us well over 1½ hours just to exit the parking lot!  I’ve never seen such inefficient, badly coordinated traffic control.

Such catastrophic ineptitude is a very real threat to public safety.  I shudder to think what would happen during peak air show road traffic if emergency vehicles needed to reach something (e.g. a fire or an accident) or someone (e.g. a person with a medical problem), or a visitor had to leave in a hurry to attend to an important matter.  Therefore, I’d advise potential visitors to the air show to avoid the airport itself like the plague!  If you wish, watch the performances from some of the public viewing areas off nearby roads.  The static displays are interesting, sure enough, but they’re not worth that sort of risk if anything goes wrong.  I don’t think I’ll be going back unless and until the organizers fix this problem.



  1. When I took the kids to the airshow at NAS Kingsville, the parking was well organized, the shuttle buses clearly marked and heavily air conditioned. The airshow at NAS Corpus Christi, well lets just say I have no intention of doing that again unless they use whoever was in charge at Kingsville.

  2. I had a similar experience back in 1991 at the McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. Although we arrived early we had to weave our way through base streets and park about a 15 minute walk from the viewing/static area. It was a very hot, sunny day which made the trek even more strenuous.

    The show was great. The Thunderbirds performance was spectacular (Actually, I'm a Blue Angel fan) and the static display was great as well. It's a good thing I didn't know about how bad the horror show of departing would be when the show was on. I suspect there were 80,000 people in attendance. When the show ended we did our 15 minute walk to the car, no problem. But it was 2&1/2 hours before we exited the base. Fortunately, I didn't run out of gas.

  3. That's one of the reasons I don't attend our local Thunder Over Louisville air show and fireworks display for the start of the Derby festival. If we go on the Louisville side, it's trek through downtown Louisville and some of its worst neighborhoods to get home. If I go to the Indiana side, it's 2 hours to get to the car and get out of the parking lot and at least 2 hours to drive home.

  4. The last local airshow we had was similar. It was worthy to note that was a HUGE presence of the local law enforcement personnel at the show where, under the 'authority' of their offices, they casually strolled areas of the flightline we mere peasants were forbidden to visit, and they had the very best up-front views of the show.

    When the show was over, they all rushed to their cars and left, lights flashing, to other important duties, leaving the peasantry to sort itself out on leaving the parking lots.


  5. I've only attended a few airshows over my brief lifespan, and my wife (as a child) attended several. All of them except one had that same thing in common. Parking was bad, leaving was worse. The lone exception was an airshow in Cheyenne, WY. While it was well-attended, it was easy in and easy out. And the Thunderbirds were pretty cool.

    I've never seen the Blue Angels in person, something I hope to correct before I die.

  6. @DaddyBear: We just watch Thunder on TV nowadays. Back in '04 we went with friends to see it live, and that nightmare crawl through Louisville surface streets took us over 2 hours. The whole time I was regretting the fact that I left my pistol at home. Never again.

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