Marine Corps Air Station Yuma welcomed approximately 60,000 patrons to the 2012 Air Show Saturday, surpassing last years estimate of 45,000.
“We expected about 50,000 and I think we are going to bump right up against that or maybe more,” said Colonel Robert C. Kuckuk, MCAS Yuma commanding officer, in an interview with the Yuma Sun.
Overcast skies and a slight chill kept viewers cool and offered optimum flying conditions for the performers.
“The airshow gods are smiling upon us,” said Kuckuk. “We are very lucky. It has been great. We don’t have the temperatures that we thought and we’ve had a little break from the sun with the overcast, so it has been just perfect airshow watching and airplane watching weather.”
Demonstrations from aviation specialists like the Military Free Fall School, Tora, Tora, Tora, Search and Rescue and the Commemorative Air Force F-4, F-6, F-7 and F-8.
“This is the first show of the season,” said Frank Kingston Smith, MCAS Yuma Air Show announcer for all but one year since 1993. “It is great fun, it’s a great place to be, and it has the most appreciative spectators I have ever seen in my life.”
Headlining this year’s show was the US Air Force Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds perform in approximately 70 air shows per year.
“The United States Air Force Thunderbirds travel around throughout the United States and the world to take the Air Force message public and showcase the pride, the precision, the professionalism of the airmen of the United States Air Force,” said Thunderbird pilot Michael Fisher.
In addition to the 50th anniversary of the MCAS Yuma air show, this year also marks the centennial for Marine Corps aviation, an important milestone for the Corps.
“From the Marines’ earliest aviator, Maj. Alfred Cunningham flying the Curtiss B-1, to the current Marine aviators serving around the globe to defend the United States of America flying fixed, rotary and now unmanned aerial vehicles, each year since 1912 marks a turning point in the legacy of how we protect and serve our country on land, in the air and now, at sea,” said Capt. Staci Reidinger, director of public affairs for MCAS Yuma.
“After two previous tours here in Yuma, having the opportunity to watch both my staff and the City of Yuma work together to put on the largest free public event of the year for the city was superb,” said Kuckuk. “By far, these men and women have proven to me that air shows are more than planes flying overhead; air shows breed a culture of strong community relationships and gives us a chance to allow the public to see how their tax dollars are being spent.”
All in all, the event was an astounding success and MCAS Yuma leaders look forward to next year.