While chartered to promote and support air shows at Joint Base Elmendorf Richards, the Association is really all about inspiration, commemoration and education. Aviation, whether civil or military, plays a vital role in Alaska’s history, development and every day life. The Association is proud to provide flyers and aircraft that enthusiastically promote the importance of aviation and Alaska’s aviation heritage. And we are proud to support scholarships for Alaska’s future aviators.
The Alaska Air Show Association was founded in 1990 by Floyd Gori, a retired Air Force Colonel, his wife Angie, and a group of Anchorage citizens. Floyd was asked by the 21st Tactical Fighter Wing Vice Commander to assist with bringing old and new aircraft together in the spirit of community cooperation with the United States Air Force. Floyd’s group and active duty aircrew members planned the first air show event over dinner at the Officer’s Club at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Floyd was born in 1928 and served in the US Air Force for 30 years. He took part in the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Cold War, having overseen work at Shemya Island in the Aleutians. Among the awards he received were the Korea Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Vietnam Service Medal and Air Medal. After retirement he went into several business operations, but always maintained a keen interest in airplanes and anything to do with World War II history.
Angie Gori was born in 1945, and after a year in college, became a lifelong Army Corps of Engineers employee, receiving many awards for her work. She had assignments in Vietnam, South Korea, San Diego, and finally at the Alaska District on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson.
Each year, Floyd and Angie graciously hosted planning sessions in their home and were able to greatly expand the cooperation and support of the community with the air show. Floyd’s efforts gained the wholehearted support of local sponsors, which in turn helped the Association bring quality, world-class aerobatic performers to Arctic Thunder annually.
In 2000, The Association was formally chartered as a non-profit corporation with the State of Alaska and the IRS. The stated purpose of the Association “…is to promote and support air shows and open house activities at Elmendorf Air Force Base which enhance the military’s image and the base’s relationship with the community.”
Floyd and Angie continued to serve the Association until 2004, but remained keenly interested in the Association’s activities and growth throughout their retirement. Floyd passed away in 2013 and Angie in 2014.
Following the attacks on September 11, 2001, and due to the deployment activities supporting the Global War on Terror, the air shows at the base went to an every other year format beginning in 2004.
After joining the Board of Directors for the 2001-2 show season, Mr. Bill Kontess became the Association’s third president in 2005. Bill is a retired US Air Force civil engineer officer, and is a practicing architect and project manager in Anchorage. Under his tenure, the Association has nearly quadrupled sponsorship participation to nearly 40 local and national sponsors. The Association has also grown from supporting only Arctic Thunder, to assisting the base with welcoming festivities for the C-17 and F-22 beddown and culminating with a spectacular Centennial Celebration of Alaska Aviation, featuring 22 fly-ins around Alaska, including into the Arctic Circle. The Centennial Celebration featured numerous WWII and historic aircraft and was enthusiastically supported by residents of numerous rural communities throughout the State.
With the tightening of federal budgets, the Association has seen significant growth in community support to Arctic Thunder, allowing the Association to go from providing one or two civilian aerobatic performers to providing 4 civilian aerobatic acts and 4 warbird acts for 2016 to both Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson and Eielson AFB.
The Association remains fully committed to its charge of inspiring, commemorating and educating.