As of today, there are 62 days remaining until Vance Air Force Base’s 75th anniversary open house and air show, but who’s counting?
1st Lt. Lauren Cook, for one. She is the ground coordinator for the air show and open house, which takes place July 23 on base. She is one of the people responsible for putting on an event that not only will showcase the men and women of Vance and the United States Air Force, but also entertain a crowd expected to be in the neighborhood of 40,000.
“Preparations are definitely starting to ramp up,” said Cook, who also serves as executive officer for the 71st Mission Support Group at Vance. “We have meetings every week now.”
A lot of planning goes into an air show and open house. Cook and her colleagues, air operations director Capt. James Baker and air show and open house director Lt. Col. Randall Schmedthorst, have to oversee every aspect of the show, which takes coordination with local, state and national agencies.
“We have been lucky enough to have several different Air Force bases working with us, Fort Sill has been working with us as well, so it has really been a Department of Defense effort,” Cook said. “It’s going to be a very huge event and it does take a lot of support from multiple agencies.”
The show’s headliners will be the Air Force Thunderbirds, who haven’t performed their aerobatic magic in the skies over Enid since 2008, but other air acts have signed on as well.
A B-1 Lancer bomber will perform a flyby, and there will be appearances not only by the three aircraft currently flown at Vance, the T-1, T-38 and T-6, but by historic Vance trainers, as well.
“There will be an aerial procession, but we will have some things on static display,” said Cook. “We’re working on getting all of them here.”
A pair of civilian aerobatic teams, Bearfeat Aerobatics and Adam Baker Airshows, have committed to perform as well.
Bearfeat Aerobatics consists of pilot Randy Harris and the Skybolt biplane he built in the living room of his condominium. The plane was built just for air show demonstrations and is powered by a 300-plus horsepower Lycoming air-cooled engine. During his show Harris, who lives outside Tulsa, pulls 9 Gs performing maneuvers with names like Wally World, Grover Over and Hammer Slide.
Oklahoma-born Adam Baker performs his high-intensity aerobatics in his Playful Extra 330, a single-wing aircraft that can pull 10 Gs.
Static displays confirmed thus far will include all three aircraft seen on the Vance ramp every day, as well as an F-15E Strike Eagle, an F-16 Fighting Falcon, a World War II-era P-51 Mustang, a KC-135 tanker and a Diamond DA20 civilian airplane.
“We are still in the works in contracting with a lot of our aircraft, both static and flying,” said Cook.
Besides the flying and the static displays, there will be a kids’ zone, simulators, food, souvenirs and music.
“There’s going to be something for the whole family,” said Cook.
Cook advised those planning to attend the air show to check the base’s public website, vance.af.mil, for information about items they can and can’t bring with them. Also, she said access to ATMs will be limited, so she urges attendees to bring cash.
“Some vendors will have credit card capabilities, others will not,” she said, “so for folks that want to eat, drink and be merry while they are here, bringing some cash with them will help out, unless they want to stand in a very long ATM line.”
The air show and open house are designed to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Vance’s opening in 1941, to be sure, but there is another purpose — to showcase the men and women of the Air Force.
“We love the planes and we love the flying, but there’s a lot more to us than the planes in the air,” said Cook. “I think everyone’s really excited to show the city of Enid, ‘Here’s how we contribute to the Air Force mission overall.'”
Keeping cool in the July heat will be a concern, Cook said, but the Oklahoma Department of Health will provide cooling stations and there will be plenty of water available.
“One of our concerns is definitely heatstroke and heat exhaustion, so we’re doing everything we can to plan to have enough water for everyone,” she said.
Parking and admission for the Vance 75th anniversary air show and open house will be free.
STORY BY: ENID NEWS & EAGLE
WRITTEN BY: JEFF MULLIN, SR. WRITER