To work in the hotel business is to be exposed to different cultures on a daily basis. But for Cory Lewis, who has worked at the front desk of a Denison hotel for only three months, the World Aerobatics Championship was a bit of a whirlwind: more than 50 guests staying at the Hampton for the better part of a month, speaking 16 different languages and accents.

To work in the hotel business is to be exposed to different cultures on a daily basis. But for Cory Lewis, who has worked at the front desk of a Denison hotel for only three months, the World Aerobatics Championship was a bit of a whirlwind: more than 50 guests staying at the Hampton for the better part of a month, speaking 16 different languages and accents.


"It was definitely noticeable," said Lewis. "We put on a reception for (the aerobats) and held one of their meetings at our facility. We really loved having them here."


Lewis said 26 aerobatics staff stayed at his hotel — many for weeks at a time — and he estimated that an additional 30 volunteers took up temporary residence as well. And that’s just one hotel.


"We had people in every hotel in Denison and Sherman, and they were here for more than just the 10 days of the competition," said North Texas Regional Airport-Perrin Field Marketing and Economic Development Director Bill Retz. "I can tell you that it was a great success from our perspective."


While officials don’t have any hard numbers yet — the event only concluded last week — anecdotal evidence suggested that the benefits to the area were far-reaching, said Retz.


"We got a lot of good press, internationally even. We believe that parts of the competition will be shown on ESPN and maybe even CNN. I know the competitors had a good reaction to the area; not only their flying, but also the extra activities. It gave them a good impression of Texoma, the state and, for many of them, the United States."


Contest Director Chris Rudd, contacted by phone after he returned home to Tallahassee, Fla., echoed those remarks.


"It ended up being better than anyone ever expected; the whole community came together and it ended up being great," said Rudd. "It was far better than it was in 2003 (the last time the world championships were held in the United States), by a long-shot. There was more community backing and the airport was way more friendly. We were able to work around weather issues that you couldn’t have done anywhere but there. NTRA stuck with us, and we were able to get in all the competition flights and declare a champion."


That champion, Frenchman François Le Vot, was crowned at a ceremony in Denison on Oct. 19. American Rob Holland defended his crown in the Four-Minute Freestyle event, held after the chairmanship concluded. Winning the woman’s competition was another Francophone, 29-year-old Aude Lemordant.


"We actually heard the French national anthem an awful lot (at the closing ceremony)," said Retz, with a laugh. "But the event was very impressive and very well done. It was special that you had people coming from all over the world."


Back at the front desk of his Denison hotel, Cory Lewis had a front row seat to that international flair.


"It was hugely significant," he said of the event’s impact. "We were running around, just trying to figure out where to put everybody."