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The Year in Review: A different kind of air show

A look back at 2020

Jan. 1, 2020, dawned as the beginning of a new year — just like any other new year. But this past year was unlike any in living memory, and throughout the year, people started going above and beyond.
In this special series for Aerotech News and Review, we take a look back at 2020 — the year everything changed.

– Ed.

In January 2020, aerospace enthusiasts had two major air shows in the Antelope Valley to look forward to. Scheduled for March 22 and 23, the LA County Air Show promised excitement with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels as the headline act. And in October, Edwards Air Force Base was scheduled to hold their first air show in more than 10 years, with the U.S. Air Force Blue Angels.

A C-17 Globemaster III flies over Palmdale, Calif., as part of the 2020 Aerospace Valley Hybrid Air Show Oct. 10. Air Force and NASA aircraft from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., took part in the flying portion of the air show. (Photograph by Melinda Rodriguez)

But then the world stopped as COVID-19 spread, and air show organizers had to make the difficult decision to cancel. But even as the LA County Air Show was canceled, there was hope that life would be back to ‘normal’ by the time October came around.

In June, it became obvious that it would not be possible for Edwards to host a traditional air show, with thousands of people in close quarters on the flightline.

It was then that Brig. Gen. Matt Higer, 412th Test Wing commander, made the announcement that the Edwards air show would become a hybrid event. At the time, no one could imagine what a ‘hybrid’ air show would look like, but many people got to work to create a once-in-a-lifetime event that would, as Higer said, take the air show to the people.

More than 10,000 students in grades K through 12 logged on to the virtual STEM part of the ‘hybrid’ air show that ran Oct. 5-8.

The 2020 Aerospace Valley Hybrid Air Show featured an Olympic-style panel that included Brig. Gen. Matt Higer, 412th Test Wing commander, and Dan Hawkins from Air Education and Training Command in San Antonio, Texas. Numerous guests, including Maj. Gen. Christopher Azzano, commander of the Air Force Test Center (headquartered at Edwards), Col. Keith Roessig, AFTC vice commander, Col. Sebrina Pabon, commander of the Air Force Test Pilot School, and Chief Master Sgt. Ian D. Eishen, 412th Test Wing command chief, were on hand to narrate the air show. (Photograph by Melinda Rodriguez)

And then Oct. 9-10, the flying started. With a live stream feed that featured Higer and different people from Edwards, the air show opened both just like any other Edwards air show. Starting with the National Anthem and a parachute jump by the Wings of Blue Parachute Team from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and then proceeding to the traditional breaking of the sound barrier. And then the aircraft took off. Flyovers of Southern California communities continued for about two hours.

Air Force and NASA aircraft flew over Rosamond, Lancaster, Palmdale, Mojave, Tehachapi, Bakersfield, California City, Boron, Ridgecrest, Hesperia, Apple Valley, Victorville, Barstow, Fort Irwin and the Naval Air Station at China Lake, bringing the air show to the people as Higer had envisioned.
 

Two F-35 Lightning II aircraft from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., fly over the Mojave Desert Oct. 9, 2020, as part of the Aerospace Valley Hybrid Air Show. (Air Force photograph)

 
 
 

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