Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wings over Wayne Airshow: Seymour Johnson AFB Open House, April 16-17, 2011

Location: Symour Johson AFB, Goldsboro, North Carolina
Admission: Free
Parking: Free
Value: Excellent

WOW! What an event, as in many ways it felt like being on a roller coaster ride! Several highs and lows, mostly due to weather! Friday’s media day was sunny with pleasant temperatures, Saturday it was overcast, very windy, and quite cold, then the show was cancelled, then rain, thunder, and tornados in the area followed by Sunday’s bright blue skies and pleasant temperatures. The AFB did a great job, with their safety first attitude!

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is the home of the 4th Fighter Wing. The 4th Fighter Wing is a direct descendant of the World War II 4th Fighter Group, the United States Army Air Force VIII Fighter Command unit formed from the members of the Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons. The fighter squadrons of the Royal Air Force were formed prior to the United States entry into World War II with volunteer pilots from the United States.

The wing consists of four squadrons of F-15E Strike Eagles:
333rd Fighter Squadron Lancers "Red Fin Flash"
334th Fighter Squadron Eagles "Blue Fin Flash"
335th Fighter Squadron Chiefs "Green Fin Flash"
336th Fighter Squadron Rocketeers "Yellow Fin Flash"

SJ AFB is also home to the F-15E Strike Eagle Demo Team. One of the favorite teams of this reviewer due to the F-15E's capabilities apart from the dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions; it is large, fast and loud! Thrilling to watch if one likes fast jets.

The two day event usually draws large crowds, but due to Saturday’s inclement weather, the organizers announced a briefer schedule with many acts that were moved up. Four F-15’s in formation roared across the sky as the National Anthem was song followed by the Golden Knights, but it became quickly obvious that the high winds would jeopardize the safety of the flyers as well as the public and Saturday’s event was cancelled at 11:30 a.m. It was a good call as a tornado touched down just near the AFB later on.

Sunday’s event was excellent, and according to the announcer, with “record breaking crowds.” The spectators were thrilled by many acts such as the Sky Soldiers AH-1G Cobra helicopters, Tora, Tora, Tora from the Commemorative Air Force WWII re-enactment of the 1942 Pearl Harbor attack, A-10 East Demo Team, F-4 Phantom East Demo, the Strike Eagle Team, and the ACC Heritage Flight with several civilian performers. Interestingly enough, Jacquie Warda and her beautiful Red Eagle Pitts S-1T Biplane while present, was not on the performers’ list, and many could not understand why she was not a performer and only as static? A feeling shared by Jacquie, when I asked her. There was a special ceremony honoring the Tuskegee Airmen during both days. The closing flying act was the awesome performance of the Thunderbirds! There were several civilian aircraft, WWI and WWII and modern warbirds on display including: the B-17F Memphis Belle, Hawker Hurricane, P-40 Warhawk, and the F-22 Raptor. There was a large Kid’s Zone, Flight simulator, several demonstrations such as the military working dog demo, and even some hot cars. Sunday concluded with a free concert by country star Tracy Lawrence.

There were plenty of food and refreshment vendors at typical pricing, water or soda at $3.00 each, burgers $6.00, etc. Portable sanitary facilities were grouped in three areas, which required considerable time to reach for the spectators near the flight line. For the future, dispersing them in more areas would be more suitable.

Over all, it was a great air show to attend, despite the weather situation. I wish to thank all who helped our team of photographers and for their warm hospitality, especially thanks to: Robin DeMark ACC 4 FW/PA, TSgt Tammie Moore ACC 4 FW/PA, and their wonderfully helpful staff; Major Mike "CASH" Maeder, Captain Steven "BUDA" Bofferding, Master Sgt. Michael E. Pate of the F-15E Strike Eagle Team; Major Dylan “HABU” Thorpe and his A-10 Team. You, are all great examples of the professionalism of the USAF!

Review by with photos as noted.

No comments: