NAVAL AIR STATION LEMOORE — It’s been eight years, but the Air Show is finally coming back to Naval Air Station Lemoore on Sept. 21-22.
“It’s going to be big, it’s going to be great — we’re really looking forward to it,” Cdr. Ray Bieze, air show director, said Wednesday after the final planning meeting at the base.
Along with several top-notch performers, the main draw of the air show is the Blue Angels — the Navy’s six-jet precision flight demonstration.
Bieze said the Blue Angels, which started in the 1940s and fly F-18Cs, embody the professionalism and pride of Navy sailors and display that to the community. Along with community outreach, the group travels all over the country as a banner for Navy recruiting.
While the base is supposed to host a show about every three years, Bieze said the Blue Angels schedule had prevented them from coming to Lemoore since the last air show in 2011. However, this year their schedule opened up.
“When the Blue Angels come, you have an air show,” Bieze said.
NASL doesn’t open its doors to a lot of company often, so Bieze also sees the air show as an opportunity to showcase the hard work all the sailors do.
Bieze said NASL is one of the most active bases in the Central Valley, with 16 operation fleet squadrons and over 200 aircraft completing around 80,000 operations a year.
“Sharing that story with the community is kind of what I’m trying to do, but I also want to entertain everybody and have a really good time,” he said.
With just a week left until the show, preparations are in high gear. Bieze said between 80,000-100,000 people attended the last air show each day, and they are actually expecting more than that this year.
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General admission and parking at the air show are free, though premium packages are also available for those who would like better seating. Gates will open to the public at 7 a.m. and the flying will run from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Both days are almost identical in terms of activities, though there will be slight variations based on performer availability, Bieze said. The Blue Angels are tentatively scheduled to perform at 2:30 p.m. both days.
Even though Bieze has been in his career with the Navy for 18 years, he said he still loves watching the flight demonstrations.
“You’re going to see a lot of really great flying,” he said. “If you haven’t see the Blue Angels, I highly encourage you to come because I get goosebumps every time I see them — and I do this for a living.”
Bieze encourages attendees to get to the base early and to make sure everyone has a driver’s license, government-issued I.D., military I.D. or passport to be able to get in. Everyone will be screened by security before being allowed to enter.
Due to security concerns, he said no large bags or backpacks, coolers or outside food will be allowed into the show. Small purses, small bags, baby food and water bottled will be allowed and Bieze said water bottle filling stations will be available.
Lawn chairs and umbrellas for shade will also be allowed.
Although no outside food will be allowed, Bieze said there will be plenty of vendors with an assortment food and beverages.
“There’s going to be a lot of great stuff for sale,” Bieze said.
For the time in between flying demonstrations, attendees will be able to peruse vintage and current military aircraft displays.