Lemoore Air Show 2019Aug 27, 2019 11:00AM ● By Melissa Mendonca
Story by Melissa Mendonca
IT'S A CURIOUS PHENOMENON that the work of pilots at Naval Air Station Lemoore is largely unseen by the public, despite the close proximity to town and use of area airspace. “They hear us, but they don’t really get to see us,” says Lieutenant Sean Krueger, an F/A-18 instructor pilot at the base.
That will all change on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21 and 22, when the base hosts the Lemoore Air Show as a gesture of thanks to the community that offers it so much support. “It’s a way to give back to the community, to show them what they don’t get to see,” he adds. “We fly over here every single day.”
“They’re noisy,” says Mark Stack, airfield manager and air show director, of the jets that fly from Naval Air Station Lemoore’s Reeves Field. Yet he never hears a complaint from Lemoore residents, who he says provide unwavering support to the base. “They understand what that noise is doing for them,” he says. “It’s the sound of freedom. The community has always been very supportive of what our command needs are.”
Stack himself is a long-time community member and shares the pride. “I’ve been a resident here in the Central Valley off and on since 1986,” he says. All three of his children were born in Lemoore and graduated from area schools. “One of my kids is now serving on an aircraft carrier,” he adds. Says Lt. Krueger, “I’ve been here for eight years now. Everybody here is very, very friendly. It means a lot to give back to the community, to the local faces that we see every day.”
That community support is being provided one of the greatest gestures of thanks a base can offer: a two-day showcase of not only local pilots and aircraft, but the legendary U.S. Navy exhibition team, the Blue Angels, celebrating their 73rd year of aviation excellence in 2019. Based at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Blue Angels are performing 33 air shows this year. The caliber of the combined Blue Angels and local demonstrations is such that, “For people here in the Central Valley, the nearest place would be San Diego at Miramar or San Francisco during Fleet Week,” says Marcelo Calero, public affairs officer at Naval Air Station Lemoore.
The Lemoore air station is the U.S. Navy’s master jet base and home to more than half the fleet’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft as well as 13,000 military and civilian personnel. It is the only Navy Installation that is home to the F-35C Lightning II. Lt. Krueger will perform a Super Hornet tactical demonstration as part of the VFA 122 Tailhook Legacy Team at the air show. “It takes about two years of flight school in the Navy before they can fly a Super Hornet,” he says of the pilots he instructs. “We’re constantly learning and getting qualifications.”
Aerobatic demonstrations will be performed by Vicky Benzing and Kent Pietsch, popular at air shows throughout the country. “We’ve also got another jet team that will be performing, The Patriots,” says Stack. “They’re a civilian team.”
In addition to the demonstration of today’s most advanced fighter jets, the show will pay homage to military aircraft of the past. John Collver will fly his T-6 Texan, a World War II training aircraft he’s named War Dog. Collver’s performance has been developed in tribute to his father, a WWII veteran.
The show also includes a range of ground-based exhibits, including around 30 aircraft representing all branches of the military and the civilian world. The Navy’s newest aircraft, the F-35C Lightning II, will be on display for visitors to see close-up. Should children get antsy, there will be a dedicated area for them with bounce houses.
It’s been eight years since the Lemoore community has had an air show and organizers are excited for its return. Those wishing to attend the Lemoore Air Show, which offers free admission and parking or opportunities for
a paid upgraded experience, are encouraged to check
the show’s website for a list of security restrictions and
safety precautions. •
Lemoore Air Show 2019 • September 21-22
Naval Air Station Lemoore • www.lemooreairshow.com