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After 4-year break, free air show appears headed back to JBLM

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, which performed at the Air Expo 2012 at at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in July 2012, will return to the base in August for a show.
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, which performed at the Air Expo 2012 at at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in July 2012, will return to the base in August for a show. Staff file, 2012

The Air Force announced Monday that it plans to end a four-year drought of air shows at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

It also plans to bring its marquee aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, to the free air show on Aug. 27-28.

Officials at JBLM want to make the air show the centerpiece of an open house that will give the public a look at different kinds of military units stationed there.

Base spokesman Joe Piek said the military still has some work to do to ensure that JBLM can host the event.

“We’re thrilled the Thunderbirds are committed and coming back to Joint Base Lewis-McChord,” he said. “We will work to make the JBLM Armed Forces Open House a reality over the coming months. As with anything in the military, it is still subject to final review and approval.”

Air shows at JBLM have drawn audiences as large as 375,000 people. The last one, in 2012, attracted about 150,000.

The shows have been on hold at JBLM for the past few years mostly because of federal spending cuts that restricted the Air Force’s budget for public events.

Budget cuts also blocked the Air Force from hosting another popular event at JBLM in 2013 and this year, though it was one that’s less noticeable to the public. That one is called the Air Mobility Rodeo. It’s a contest for airmen from around the world that usually takes place at JBLM biennially.

The Air Force announced the JBLM air show at a convention for the International Council of Air Shows. Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane is on the schedule, too, with a show scheduled for the last weekend in July.

Aside from the Thunderbirds, the Air Force has not named any other participants at the JBLM show. The 2012 event included performances by a parachute jump team, bomber aircraft and the C-17 Globemaster IIIs that comprise the working fleet at McChord Air Field.

The Navy’s Blue Angels are scheduled to appear on Aug. 6 and 7 at Seattle’s Seafair festival.

Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646, @TNTMilitary

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