Baumgartner Vaughan: Free military air show in May

Apr. 26, 2014 @ 05:20 PM

About a year ago, some of you shared my disappointment and a tad bit of disgruntledness about the cancellation of the 2013 air show at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. At the time, the military was being prudent and waiting for Congress to stop being petulant before going ahead with an event for civilians. Well, that’s more or less resolved now and this year’s air show is back on – not at Seymour Johnson AFB, but the usual rotation it takes with Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

It’s a solid two and a half hour drive each way from the Triangle to see the air show. I think it’ll be worth it. I’m going. It’s free and will be held May 16-18 at MCAS Cherry Point. Did I mention it’s free? You can buy a seat if you want to park yourself and watch. Parking your car is free, though. The air is as free as the wild blue yonder.
Among the birds flying at the air show is the F-35B Lightning II. It’s a joint strike fighter, or as my son would call it, a cool jet. It’s a fifth generation aircraft that can do all sorts of snazzy stuff for the Navy, Air Force and Marines. On the civilian aircraft front, the air show will have the Black Diamond Jet Team, a civilian demonstration squadron of five L-39s and a T-33, all painted in arctic camouflage. The full list is at
I have a feeling after the air show my kid’s toy wish list will be growing. Fine with me, I like playing with airplanes, too. The F4U Corsair is enjoying renewed attention thanks to the Disney Pixar children’s movie “Planes,” which I have seen about as many times as airplanes take off per day at RDU International Airport. Maybe not that many. But enough. My dad is making my son a model airplane that looks just like Dusty, the crop-duster turned hero in “Planes.” They work on it together when we visit. In “Planes,” if you haven’t seen it, the Corsair is named Skipper and flew during World War II, as real Corsairs did. I like the folding wings myself.
One of my favorite childhood memories is of my mom taking my sister and me to watch the 82nd Airborne making practice parachute jumps at Fort Bragg. We sat on a sandy hill on post for a good vantage point. That was in the early 1980s. Even today, Fort Bragg posts the jump schedule so people can go watch. But that’s pretty much something for military families. My commissary and PX privileges ended at adulthood, and so too the inside view of the military. Military air shows are an opportunity for civilians to have that kind of access. Plus, aircraft are cool.
Aviation is amazing. I don’t need to remind North Carolinians of that, of course. We’re first in flight.
Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at or 919-419-6563. Follow on Twitter: @dawnbvaughan.