Just heard that the FIDAE air show, scheduled from 23-28 March, is going to continue, despite the earthquake and tsunami that devastated areas of the country not far from the show site near the capital Santiago.
Here's the message on the show site, which had been down for several days following the quake.
After the earthquake that struck the south-central region of Chile, this early February 27th, FIDAE informs that the fair has resumed its normal activities and that the installations are in order and working properly. Also, the organizers said that the web site of the fair is functioning and working well.
Furthermore, the organizers of the fair want to thank all the support and solidarity messages expressed by the exhibitors and the general public.
We had been due to run a scene-setter for the show in our 16 March issue, written by my Washington DC-based colleague Brendan Sobie, looking at the aerospace sector in Chile and neighbouring Argentina, but, following the earthquake, had more or less decided to ditch the package. Now it looks like we may have to reinstate it, together with Brendan's trip to cover the show itself.
FIDAE is not the first aviation show in recent times to be threatened by a natural disaster. Back in 2005, NBAA pulled its annual convention from New Orleans at very short notice following Hurricane Katrina, although initially it said it wanted to continue with the event. Here's the report at the time http://www.nbaa.org/news/pr/2005/20050830-048.php
NBAA decided the city and its accommodation and convention facilities were too badly damaged, and moved the annual event to Orlando. New Orleans has never hosted the convention since, and the impact of losing the millions of dollars its attendees would have spent in the city during the week of the show definitely slowed the Big Easy's recovery.
Air shows and other conventions represent a huge injection of cash into a city and a country's economy. Apart from the prestige it brings and the shop window it creates for national exporters and suppliers, it is why the number of air shows never seems to get smaller, despite increasing squeezes on exhibitors' marketing budgets and delegates' ability to attend.
For spirit in the face of adversity, Chile and the organisers of FIDAE have to take a lot of credit. Given the pummelling the country's infrastructure has taken - even in Santiago itself, some distance from the epicentre - and the pressures on the country's military and emergency services, I am not quite sure how they are managing to continue. But good luck to them. I hope the show goes well.