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Scott Air Force Base partners with community for first airshow in five years

Two children watch as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly during an airshow June 11, 2022, in St. Louis, Mo. The Blue Angels team has flown for over 500 million fans since its creation in 1946. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Shelby Rapert)

375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – For the first time in five years, Scott Air Force Base is opening its gates to the community for a full weekend of airshow performances and educational activities for children of all ages, plus a sneak peek into the lives of Airmen who currently serve.

Hundreds of partners on and off-base have been working together since 2021 to plan every detail of this massive community event. Airmen take on extra responsibilities outside of their daily jobs to get the details right—all the way from parking and traffic flow, contracting, budget spending policies, sponsorships and donations, kids zone activities, airshow performers, static displays, concessions, safety, emergency support and more. 

“None of this happens without community support. Opening the gates allows us to welcome the public to see what their taxpayer dollars are contributing to, how the U.S. Air Force gets the mission done in their local area and highlights the daily accomplishments of the men and women who serve here,” said Col. Chris Robinson, 375th Air Mobility Wing and Installation Commander. “We are lucky to be part of such an incredible community, and it’s our honor to host you for a demonstration of air power!” 

Scott’s last airshow in 2017 marked its Centennial year. The goal for Scott AFB is to host an airshow every two years and the COVID pandemic response prevented an airshow until now. Team Scott is filled with active-duty military members who move in and out quickly but offer fresh insight to strengthen the continuity of those who have planted their roots in the local area. Together, they build a solid foundation from which to brainstorm, plan and execute a successful airshow for the community.

Attendees watch the opening ceremony for the centennial air show at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., June 11, 2017. The base hosted the air show and open house to celebrate the 100th year of Scott AFB. Over 50 aircraft, ranging from WWI’s Curtiss JN-4 Jenny to the currently utilized KC-135 Stratotanker, came to Scott, the fourth oldest Air Force base. Demonstrations included the Black Daggers, “Tora, Tora, Tora,” and the USAF Thunderbirds. Opened in 1917 and previously named Scott Field, the base has seen its mission evolve and expand to encompass a multitude of priorities, including aeromedical evacuation and communications. Today, Scott is home to 31 mission partners and provides around-the-clock logistics support and rapid global mobility, carried out primarily by U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Clayton Lenhardt)

The airshow performer line-up includes the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Red Bull Team Chambliss, F-22 Demo Team, Randy Ball’s MiG-17, the P-51 Heritage Flight, and the United States Air Force Academy Wings of Blue parachute team.  

Team Scott is also paying it forward to the next generation of leaders interested in going into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics career fields. Part of the STEM Expo will feature a ‘recruiting village’ composed of career fields around base. Airmen from various career fields like the explosive ordnance disposal team and Airmen who are taking part in opportunities outside of their career field like the Scott AFB Honor Guard will educate community members as well as future Airmen about opportunities the military offers. 

Airmen will also provide insight as subject matter experts on more than 20 static aircraft on the flightline, including many of Air Mobility Command’s assets like the command’s newest air refueler, the KC-46 Pegasus. Other mobility aircraft will also be displayed, including the C-40C, KC-135 Stratotanker, C-130 Hercules, C-5 Galaxy, KC-10 Extender and C-21A.

Lt. Col. Adam Wallace, the airshow director, said, “This is Team Scott’s love letter back to the community.  It’s a ‘thank you’ and a ‘come join us’ message that we’re trying to send. We need you to join the team.”

One of the main things that has been fueling this airshow since day one is the determination of organizations across the base, as well as the local community, to create an exciting, safe, and successful airshow and expo.

Ground logistics teams have worked around the clock to organize the layout of the event for more than 40 vendors and everything from static displays to the U.S. Air Force’s Band of Mid-America’s performances. 

The deputy ground boss, Maj. Aaron Hughes, added, “We have taken best practices from other installations that have recently done airshows and adapted those practices to fit Scott AFB best.”

The ground logistics team, consisting of more than 150 people from every unit within the 375th Air Mobility Wing have split into smaller Multi-Function Teams to successfully plan and execute airshow operations. For example, to ensure there is minimal frustration while entering and leaving the base, the MFTs have contracted parking passes for the limited parking spots on base and are encouraging attendees to use the Metrolink services and shuttles rather than driving. Members are also collaborating with the Illinois State Police Department to ensure people are safely driving on the highways near the event. 

What comes up, must come down and these aircraft are no exception. But with all the aircraft needing a place to go for the event, one team on base must show them the way. The Transient Alert team, led by Bill Murphy, T-Squared Services lead servicer, will meet each plane as they land and direct them to their designated location.

“It’s like we’re setting up a symphony,” said Murphy. “We’re gathering all the pieces together and we’re going to try to make it a fantastic show.”

Each aircraft has special requirements that must be considered during their arrival as well as throughout the airshow. Intertwining like gears of a clock, TA works hand-in-hand with the Air Traffic Control Tower and ground logistics team to ensure a seamless flow of information and execution for almost every aspect of the airshow. 

While Team Scott has invested hundreds of hours to plan the airshow and STEM Expo, an equal amount has been put into safety and emergency response efforts months in advance. Alongside Airmen, local fire departments and Emergency Medical Technicians will be working during the airshow, ready at a moment’s notice.

All this attention to detail and teamwork from Team Scott in the months prior adds up to a one-of-a-kind airshow for the community to reach the next generation. 

Wallace said, “I was the kid at airshows, just absolutely in awe and I took that with me my entire childhood, into college and into ROTC.  Those memories you make at the airshows, they matter. If we provide that moment to one child and inspire service in them, mission accomplished.”

For more about the May 13-14 airshow, please see

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story also appears in the April 2023 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.)

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