GOLDSBORO, NC — Top military and civilian aerobatic performers including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will arrive this week for the Carolina’s largest airshow event this year as the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymore Johnson AFB celebrate the Air Force’s 75th year of service.
The Seymore Johnson AFB Open House and Airshow will open to the public this weekend as they present today’s top air dominance aircraft both in the air and on static display for an even up close view. Admission and parking are free.
“The air show is an opportunity for SJAFB to thank local and regional communities for their continuous support, in addition to educating the public on our combat capabilities and the F-15E mission of “Dominant Strike Eagle Airpower — Anytime, Anywhere,” Air Show Director Major Matthew R. Olde said on Tuesday as he toured the flight line.
This air show’s star-studded lineup includes the six F/A-18 jets of the Navy’s flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels, who is expected to draw in an estimated 70,000 attendees on each day of the show. The Blues will provide 40-minutes of darting climbs and low passes at near the speed of sound as the jets wow the crowds over the airspace.Second year Commander and Boss Ryan J. Bernacchi in Angel 1 leads the Diamond Team, and includes LT Damon Kroes, LT Nate Scott, LT Lance Benson. The two solo pilots who push the envelope of what the Hornet can do are lead solo CDR Frank Weisser and opposing solo LT Tyler Davies.
“We’re extremely excited to attend Wings Over Wayne,” Blue Angels 7 pilot and airshow narrator LT Brandon Hempler said during an interview with this aerospace journalist. “We’re gonna put on a great show. Not just the flying, but the maintainers who are out there as we perform the walk down of the jets. They’re an important part of the team as well.”
The voice of America’s Pride this season, LT Hempler, and Angel 8 LT Dave Steepe also serve as the advance pilot and events coordinator, respectfully. The Blues will fire up their aircraft and taxi out to perform each day at about 3:00 p.m.
Air Force Demonstrations to Highlight #WOW17
The Air Force F-22 Raptor is scheduled to perform each day as the 21st century stealth jet demonstrates many of its military maneuvers at low altitudes. Raptor pilot Major Dan “Rock” Dickinson will put the F-22 through many gravity defying air strike maneuvers, and will later soar wingtip to wingtip with the P-51D Mustang during the hugely popular Heritage Flight.
“Wings Over Wayne is the top air show on the East Coast,” Major Olde added as a lone F-15E jet taxied nearby. “We’re looking forward to opening our doors and showcasing our air power and base with everyone.”
The 4th Fighter Wing is home to the F-15E Strike Eagle, a dual-role fighter capable of performing air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The 64-foot long F-15E can achieve a top speed of Mach 2.6 via two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofan engines with afterburners. The Boeing-built sleek military aircraft will perform twice on Saturday and Sunday, including a late morning formation flyover by four F-15E’s.
The airshow will also showcase the KC-135 Stratotankers; Tora, Tora, Tora Pearl Harbor reenactment demonstration; the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Demonstration Team; the six-plane T-34 Beechcraft formation of Lima, Lima, Lima; and Smoke-n-Thunder Jet Truck — a twin jet engine 1957 Chevy Pickup capable of speeds of over 350 m.p.h.
The Canadian CF-18 will be piloted by Captain Matthew Kutryk, his first year with the demo team. His aircraft will don the colors of Canada, red and white with stylistic maple leafs, in honor of Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation.
“Being selected as the pilot for the CF-18 Demonstration Team is an incredible honor, especially on such a significant year for Canada,” said Captain Kutryk dressed in his flight suit and poised next to his aircraft. “I am excited to travel all across Canada and the United States to show the skill and professionalism of the Royal Canadian Air Force.”
The family-friendly weekend includes a 20,000 square feet Kids’ Zone, occupying one of the largest aircraft hangars on the base. Over 15 attractions will be available all day on both days for $5.00 per wristband. Among them will be the Blue Angel Aircraft Carrier Slide, a 36 ft. Turbo Shuttle Slide, Space Camp Combo, Extreme Air Power Jump, a 52-ft Obstacle Course, and Adventures in Aviation.
(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)