Sky's the limit at air show Saturday
The sky is the limit above Marine Corps Air Station Yuma for the military and civilian pilots who will be performing feats of aerial acrobatics during the 47th annual Yuma Air Show.
This year's show on Saturday coincides with MCAS Yuma's 50th year as an air station, according to Greg McShaen, airfield operations officer and air show operator.
"It's going to be a great show," McShaen said. "We have something for every member of the family."
As always, admission is free and there is no charge for parking. This year's show is expected to draw over 40,000 people.
Gates open to the public at 8 a.m., with the first performance of the day being a skydiving presentation at 9:55 a.m. by Yuma Proving Ground's Military Freefall School.
McShaen said this will be the first year that freefall school instructors will showcase their skills at the air show.
The freefall team, McShaen said, is made up of instructors from each branch of the service and one civilian.
During their jump, the parachutists will pass a baton between themselves in midair present it to a distinguished Yuma resident when they land.
McShaen said the baton will be given to Kenneth H. Stevenson, an 84-year-old World War II veteran. Stevenson was one of the first Marines to hit the beaches of Iwo Jima in 1945 as a platoon sergeant with the 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division, and one of Yuma's last remaining veterans of that era.
The freefall team is scheduled to jump twice, once in the morning and once in afternoon. The first jump will include the American flag and smoke, while the second jump will only use smoke.
MCAS spokesman Capt. Rob Dolan said those who plan on attending the air show will have three entrances to get on base.
Motorists coming from the west side of the base can take Avenue A south, around Airport Loop Road and enter the base at the gate on County 14th Street.
"That is actually the preferred way. There will obviously be signs directing people," Dolan said. "I would highly recommend it. If you come that way, you can sneak in behind all the congestion."
Dolan said those coming from the north can take Avenue 3E south and enter the base at the Loesch Gate, which is just down the road from the main gate.
The third and final way, Dolan said, if coming from the east, is to take Avenue 4E south to County 13th Street and head west on it, which will lead to Gate 4, which is on Avenue 3E just south of the Loesch Gate.
Dolan added that persons who are handicapped, as well as air show VIPs, can still use the north gate, which is along Avenue 3E, to enter the base.
The show will end at 3:15 p.m. with an attempt by MCAS Yuma to set a Guinness Book world record for creating a pyrotechnic extravaganza known as a "Wall of Flame."
The current world record is held by the Indianapolis Air Show, which it set last year with a wall that stretched 6,700 feet.
If successful, MCAS' wall - nearly two miles long - will beat the current record by more that 3,000 feet.
McShaen said there will be 16 aerial performances throughout the show as well as a combined 113 military and civilian aircraft on display.
"Not only will the public get to see the latest in military technology, but they will also be able to take a nostalgic look at vintage bombers and fighters," McShaen said.
There will also be a number of other static displays, including the Marine for Life Booth that will feature R. Lee Ermey, a former U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor and later Golden Globe-nominated actor.
Ermey played Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann in "Full Metal Jacket" and currently hosts "Mail Call," a military history program on The History Channel.
"It is a booth that takes you from being a recruit to becoming a seasoned veteran, so there will be a number of different people on hand to answer questions about any stages of a Marine's career," Dolan said.
The crown jewel of this year's air show will be an attraction that re-creates the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor called "Tora, Tora, Tora" and put on by the Commemorative Air Force.
"The whole purpose of the act is to entertain, to educate and encourage patriotism," Dolan said, "but first and foremost to honor our veterans of all conflicts. "
The attraction involves 15 Japanese fighters and bombers simulating the Pearl Harbor attack using smoke, fire and explosions set up by its pyrotechnics team.
"It is one of the biggest acts touring on the air show circuit," McShaen said. "It is extremely exciting and has a moving narration."
Dolan said all vehicles and persons who attend the air show are subject
to search to maintain base security.
No recreational vehicles or weapons of any kind or backpacks are allowed. Coolers are only permitted for medical reasons.
AIR SHOW TIMES
Kofa High School Kings Regiment - 9:20 to 9:40 a.m.
Air show begins - 9:55
Yuma High School Marching Band - 9:40 to 10
Military Freefall Parachute Demo - 9:55 to 10:15
Rob Harrison (Tumbling Bear) - 10:15 to 10:30
USMC SAR Demonstration - 10:30 to 10:40
Melissa Andrzejewski - 10:41 to 10:55
Alabama Boys - 10:55 to 11
USMC F-5 Fly-by - 11 to 11:10
USN F/A-18 Demonstration - 1:10 to 11:25
Alabama Boys - 11:25 to 11:45
USMC AV-8B Demonstration - 11:45 to noon
Intermission - Noon to 1 p.m.
Yuma High School Marching Band - 12:25 to 12:40
Kofa High School Kings Regiment - 12:40 to 12:55
Military Freefall Parachute Demo - 12:55 to 1:05
Jon Melby - 1:20 to 1:35
USMC AAR Demonstration - 1:35 to 1:55
USAF B-1 Fly-by - 1:55 to 2:05
USAF F-16 and P-51 Heritage Demo - 2:10 to 2:55
Tora Tora Tora - 2:55 to 3:15
Wall of Fire/with Tora Tora Tora - 3:14 to 3:15
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854.