Gary McMahon served as a member of the Board of Directors of the International Council of Air Shows for twenty years (1976-1995). At his request, ICAS created a permanent staff position and ultimately established a permanent ICAS office.
He served as President for the six years ending in December of 1989. During his tenure, the organization enjoyed unprecedented growth of more than 600%, making great strides in many areas.
His leadership, together with the support and efforts of several talented Members of the Board, resulted in ICAS making great strides in many areas. The FAA Air Show Manual was overhauled; the Aerobatic Competency Evaluator (ACE) program was developed and implemented; maneuvers packages introduced; ballistic analysis conducted; the aerobatic box and flight-lines revised; educational programs instituted; support materials developed and the ICAS By-laws re-written.
The primary purpose of all this activity was to enhance the industry’s professionalism and preserve the safety of the spectators, ensuring the air show industry would continue its exemplary record of zero spectator fatalities at a North American air show.
Subsequently, following the tragic Ramstein accident air shows were at risk! Calls for the abolition of air shows were coming from every corner of North America. Because of ICAS and the industry’s earlier and ongoing efforts, a coordinated and identical message was quickly communicated to the North American media and the public. ICAS, the FAA, Transport Canada, the Pentagon, CDN Air Command HQ and all three jet teams were able to provide information regarding the North American approval process for maneuvers packages and flight-lines; as well as the fact that no spectator had ever been killed as a result of an aircraft landing in the crowd in North America.
Gary joined the organizing committee of the Canadian International Air Show (CIAS) in 1970, ultimately serving as President and Chairman, from 1977 through 1979. The CIAS was a feature attraction of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), held annually during the last four days of the 20-day Fair.
He later served as President and Chairman of the CNE from 1983 through 1985. Founded in 1878, the CNE is one of the oldest and largest annual expositions in the world… and the sponsor of the CIAS.
Gary also served as President of Umbrella Entertainment Inc. (UEI) from 1989 to 1995. A subsidiary of its U.S. parent (now known as the Air Show Network), UEI quickly grew to become Canada’s largest air show support services company, providing consulting, marketing and concession services. Gary was founding President of the ICAS Foundation (1990-1995). The foundation was initially established to preserve the legacy of the aerial performers and industry builders. The foundation’s activities include the operation of the ICAS Air Show Hall of Fame and serves as a repository for artifacts and memorabilia, catalogued to serve as a research tool for those people interested in the history of aerial demonstration.
He conceived, developed and managed a major national sponsorship program in direct support of Canada’s major air shows. The Molson Canadian Air Show Tour was the first national sponsorship program of its kind in North America.