The popular TBM Avenger event in Peru is moving to Indiana due to “the governor’s continued guidelines,” a founder of the event said.
“Because of the governor’s continued guidelines, we don't believe Illinois will be opened up in time,” said Brad Deckert of Eureka, founder of the event.
The event has brought in dozens of military aircraft, fliers from throughout the U.S. and Midwest and almost 10 historic Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers to Illinois Valley Regional Airport each spring.
First, organizers postponed the May event to sometime later this year in Peru.
But recently, organizers decided to move the event to the last weekend of July in Terre Haute, Ind.
Indiana is planning to be unrestricted by July 4, Deckert said.
Does he see this as a permanent move?
"We'll see how it plays out. We hope not,” he said.
The event is a unique one that showcases pieces of history and promotes education.
The event also allows those who own an Avenger to get together and discuss challenges to keeping them in the air.
“Mostly it's to share them with the public,” he said.
This year would have been a “tremendous opportunity” for Peru, he said, because the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. was canceled and is the world’s largest airshow and was scheduled for the last weekend of July.
“There is a huge void to be filled," he said.
The event in Indiana is projecting 100,000 people showing up, he said.
"It's a tremendous squandered opportunity for Peru," he said. "It's just sad."
Deckert owns an Avenger, which has been based in Peru for years.
The event attracts people from all over the country and is “an incredible salute to our veterans,” said Chuck Studer, manager of Illinois Valley Regional Airport and owner of Midwest Avtech.
This year would have been the fifth year in Peru.
“This year would have been much bigger than any events before or probably any event held in the Illinois Valley area,” Studer said. “We're disappointed we're losing it,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate we’re in the situation we are,” said Peru Mayor Scott Harl.
Harl said he can’t say whether Indiana is doing the right or wrong thing, and he can’t say whether Illinois is doing the right or wrong thing.
“I hope the best for everyone,” he said.