Thunder over the Inland Empire lived up to its name this weekend as the USAF Thunderbirds, Patriots Jet Team, and a host of other military and civilian aircraft entered the pattern full throttle, engulfing the Moreno Valley airspace with the roar of jet engines, for the biennial March Field AirFest 2012, held on May 19 and 20. An estimated 500,000 spectators throughout the southwestern region of the U.S. saw the show with expectations of having the time of their life. They were not disappointed!
â€œThe airshow is a conglomeration of Team March and our civilian partnerâ€™s efforts to organize a first-class event. This would not have been possible without that partnership,â€ said Lt. Col. Donald Traud, 452d Air Mobility Wing, director of Public Affairs. â€œMany people invested long hours into making the airshow a success and it paid off. You could see the smiles on the faces of AirFest-goers. This is a first step towards the 100th anniversary of the March Field airshow in 2018.â€
â€œWe had so many great aerial performances ranging from Greg Colyerâ€™s T-33, the Harrier demonstration (courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corp), to Steve Hinton with his F-86,â€ said Lt. Col. Tim Harris, 452d Air Mobility Wing, Operational Support Squadron and AirFest Director. â€œThis event also allowed us to showcase our Global Reach capabilities, as our C-17 offloaded a huge amount of equipment from our Army Reserve friends.â€
Mr. Christopher Davis, 452d Airport Operations Manager and AirFest Air Boss said, â€œThis was a well balanced, well rounded show. It featured a little bit of everything from jet teams to World War II aircraft, heritage flights to navy planes and civilian performances that rounded it out. It provided something for everybody.â€ He went on to say how impressed he was with the Patriots Jet Team because they previously performed with only four jets, but for this airshow, they added two more. â€œThe show ran on time with what appeared to be record-breaking crowds. All we need to work on for the next show is the parking situation,â€ he said.
Besides the aerial acrobatics, the show delivered a few ground-bound acts that totally entranced the crowd. Robosaurus, the worldâ€™s largest transformer, made its grand appearance in a manner matched by none other. When Robo came to life, it let out a mighty roar as it turned to survey the crowd. At one point, it bent down to eye-level with the crowd, waiting for someone to make a move, but no one did. After rendering the crowd motionless, Robo let out another loud screeching roar of anger, as it blew streamers out of its nose making everybody jump. It astonished the crowd by lifting a full-sized, four-door sedan and ripping it in half with one bite, a twist, and a clean jerk, as if it was a childâ€™s toy. This act is what you would expect to see at an expensive theme park or motion picture, but for our lucky spectators, they witnessed it in real-time, up-close and personal.
Also on scene was strong-man Master Sgt. Josh Bell who, during a KC-135 towing breakdown, decided to lend a hand and literally pull the 100,000 pound aircraft across the March Field flight line. Actually, this event was staged as part of the airshow, but none-the-less an amazing feat of strength.
Probably one of the most personable aspects to the airshow was the performer-spectator engagement. AirFest-goers were able to get autographs and interact directly with the Hollywood-like performers from the military, private firms and, non-profit groups. This was a perfect venue for young adults with uncertainties about future career opportunities.
â€œRemember, this was not just an airshow, it was an open house. This gave our public an opportunity to see historic March Field. It was also a chance to see civilian and more importantly, military members performing at their best. For many Americans, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to view an event such as this in person,â€ said Harris. He concluded with, â€œNo matter how exciting some of the current action films that feature the military have been in the past few years, nothing can beat seeing one of these aircraft being put through their paces, and hearing them too, in real life.â€