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Henri grounds Great Pocono Raceway Airshow on final day

Organizers canceled Sunday's events due to the effects of Tropical Storm Henri.

LONG POND, Pa. — Henri was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, but its effects grounded airplanes in Monroe County at what would have been day two of the Great Pocono Raceway Airshow. Newswatch 16 was there for the last-minute decision to close the event.

Steady rains didn't stop the people, who came from all over the Northeast for day two of the Great Pocono Raceway Airshow near Long Pond, in Monroe County.

“We knew we were in for some iffy weather because of the storms coming into the east coast, but other than that, we thought it would just be a great day for the kids to see the veterans and the planes,” Dyan McCarthy, of Hanover Township, said.

About an hour before the event was scheduled to start, Newswatch 16 asked Jared Robertson of Bangor what he thought about being there, with all the rain.

"I'm just hoping it stops, too,” he said.

But the rain didn't stop. In fact, with Tropical Storm Henri making landfall on the east coast – the only thing that stopped was the planes leaving the ground.

Organizers tell us they had been keeping close track of the weather leading up to the event, and they ended up deciding to cancel just about 30 minutes before showtime.

“I was pretty sad. I really wanted to see the planes,” Malakai Wade of Hanover Township said.

"Kind of it is what it is, you know, Mother Nature, she does what she does, and you gotta roll with it,” David Rietscha, of Downingtown, said.

"Unfortunately, the kids didn't get to see the planes or anything go up, but I think they're making the right call. You know, safety is an issue,” McCarthy said.

Second Lieutenant Peter Dobrowolski is an admissions advisor with the U.S. Air Force Academy. He explained to Newswatch 16 why the heavy rains caused such a safety issue. 

"It creates wind vortexes which makes it unsafe to fly, and if there's not any operational reason to fly, they're not going to do it,” he said.

Dobrowolski, along with Master Sergeant Jamathon George, a U.S. Air Force Flight Chief Supervisor, says it's not worth the risk for a show – but in times of war, it's different.

"If we need to get bombs on target and we need to put some warheads on foreheads, then we'll be doing that even in this weather,” Dobrowolski.

"We do have modern technology that allows them to fly in conditions as such, but any time we're putting off for entertainment, we definitely want to err on the side of caution at all times,” George said.

After last year's show didn't go on because of COVID, many repeat attendees and first-timers were looking forward to this.

"Of course, last year it was canceled due to COVID, so they have it this year, so we figured we would come back, even though it's raining, just something to do to create memories,” Jason Robertson, of Bangor, said.

The cancelation comes after a pilot from the GEICO Skytypers died in a crash during a practice run Friday afternoon.

RELATED: Pilot dies in crash at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport

"Air Force pilots are putting themselves on the line every day, whether it be in the civilian world or in the military world,” Dobrowolski said. “And they do a lot in service to our country, and it's very important to understand the sacrifices that they make for us, to keep us safe and to keep us free."

Event organizers say those who purchased Sunday event tickets directly through Pocono Raceway’s website or Ticket Office and did not attend Saturday’s airshow are eligible for an account credit or refund for the face value of their tickets.

For more details on the account credits and refunds, you can visit here.

For any ticket holder questions, you can tickets@poconoraceway.com, and a ticket representative will get back to you in approximately five to seven business days.

RELATED: Somber start to Great Pocono Raceway Airshow

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