Aerobatic championships fueling local economy

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DENISON, TEXAS -- Phones are ringing off the hook at the Hampton Inn in Sherman, and they have these dare-devil pilots to thank for that.

"We do have half of the hotel that is completely full because of the aerobatic championships," Premier Hospitality Area Sales Manager Casey Motley said.

Fifty out of their 67 rooms are occupied midweek.

Pilots have been in town for nationals, and now the world championships are on the horizon for October 9th.

Some of the best aerobatic pilots, from 17 different countries, are about to check-in to hotels in Sherman, Denison, Pottsboro and Durant.

"Really, not one community could handle the amount of hotels. It's well over a thousand hotel room nights," North Texas Regional Airport Director Mike Shahan said.

Shahan says operations at the airport have nearly doubled since 2012, from 35,000 to 65,000.

The airport typically generates $65 million annually for the local economy, but Shahan estimates they'll bring in $1 million during the world's alone.

"That's a big draw. Ten day event and there's a lot of spectators should be here, volunteers, contestants, so economic-wise, economic development-wise, it should bring in a lot of money," Shahan said.

"We wanted to showcase the area but not focus specifically on one town," NTRA World Aerobatic Championship Assistant for Coordination Helen Johnson said.

Johnson was charged with distributing the wealth to benefit the whole region. To do so, she's coordinated a rodeo, wine-tasting and other events across Texoma during the world championship.

"Give them kind of a unique flavor; something to take back with them, some unique experiences," Johnson said.

Shahan hopes the pilots' time in Texoma will come back ten fold.

"We get that name recognition. We get the North Texas Regional Airport brand out to the world," Shahan said.

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