Club undecided about show’s fate

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Members of the Rotary Club of Tucumcari were in shock following the crash.

It was the group’s 14th event and it put a number of hours in preparation.

An emergency plan had been worked out days before and security measures had also been developed in the event of an emergency, said Pete Kampfer, a Rotarian and spokesman for the group.

Unfortunately, it had to be put in place, he said.

Randy Harris, a friend of Guy “Doc” Baldwin and fellow stunt pilot, said, “They did a great job. It’s the best job we’ve ever seen. They had the vehicles in the right place and were suited to go. They were absolutely phenomenal.”

Harris, who lives in Tulsa, 11 miles from Baldwin’s residence, said, “If there had been anything that they could have done to save Guy, they would have been able to. I have been at air shows where if they’d had gotten there sooner someone would have been saved.”

Since the crash, there has been some speculation that the Rotary would abandon the annual event.

At this point, no decision has been made for future shows.

“No decision has been made about next year’s show,” Kampfer said. “We don’t want to make a decision during this emotional time. When we are more collected, it will be discussed then.”

Harris is an advocate of letting the show continue.

“I hope you’ll be able to recover,” Harris said, referring to Tucumcari. “We are out there to entertain and don’t want to scare any people.”

After 11 years as a air show performer, Harris said he’s learned that when there is a crash, some towns will get out of sponsoring the event.

“But an air show is often a town’s major community event. It’s often the only place where there is a public display of patriotism,” Harris said. “Air shows raise a lot of money for charity and they really are safe.”

Sometimes a town will continue the air show, or skip a year and have a memorial for the lost pilot at the next show, Harris said.

“I feel like this might not be a very good time to quit,” Elmer Schuster, president of the Rotary Club of Tucumcari, said. “It looks like we’re giving up. Looking at this (accident), it looks like there might more of a initiative to renew efforts.”
Before the accident, Schuster there was some discussion of discontinuing the air show.

The Rotary’s air show takes a lot of community cooperation and support, with different groups taking responsibility for certain aspects of the show, he said.
“The Rotary Club, all the participating acts, depends on the entire community and on their support,” Schuster said, adding that “all these things have to be considered.”

Schuster said, “I don’t think he (Doc Baldwin) would want us to quit.”
Kampfer said the Rotary’s board was focusing on what it could to offer its sympathy to the family of Baldwin, who left a wife and two girls.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragedy and express our condolences to the family of Doc Baldwin,” Kampfer said.

The Rotary has decided to make a donation to the Make A Wish Foundation, a charity that Baldwin contributed to and worked with. He also had the Make A Wish inscribed on his plane’s wing.

Since the air show, which was closed by the FAA, the question has arisen about whether or not the Rotary should return money to ticketholders.

“There’s been no decision to make any refunds, and we’ve had no one ask for their money that I’m aware of.” Kampfer said.

The air show grounds and ground exhibits were on view at 8 a.m. for people to see, he said.

“Rotary has paid out in excess of $10,000 to bring in the acts and for other related expenses,” Kampfer said.