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Air show returns to Hill AFB this weekend

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LAYTON — Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to visit Hill Air Force Base this Memorial Day weekend for the return of the air show and open house there.

The last time Hill hosted the event was three years ago. The show used to be held every other year, but it was postponed last year due to the poor economy.

"We were able to rally the troops and raise some funds and bring it back this year," said Kevin Ireland, one of the event organizers.

Some of the performances scheduled include:

  • U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
  • Red Bull helicopter, plane and jump team
  • The Red Eagles
  • Smoke-N-Thunder jet car
  • Pyrotechnics

"It's going to be an awesome weekend" Ireland said.

An estimated 300,000 to 400,000 people attended the event in 2009. Up to half a million people are expected this year, but participants shouldn't be intimidated by that.

"We've got a great crew, a great group of people who know how to handle that traffic," Ireland said. "The base absorbs it really fast."

The current parking lot for F-16s will become a parking lot for the public. Buses will shuttle others from different parking lots to their destinations. Additionally, Utah Transit Authority will provide a shuttle from the Clearfield FrontRunner station to Hill Air Force Base.

The base opens at 8 a.m. and performances start at 10 a.m. The public can come and go as they please until 5 p.m.

2012 Open House and Air Show
  • Saturday and Sunday, May 26-27
  • Hill Air Force Base
  • Gates open 8 am- 5 pm
  • Air show - 10 am - 5 pm
  • Free admission and parking
  • More info:

The featured performance will be from the Air Force Thunderbirds. Lt. Col. Edward Case, a pilot with the 388th Fighter Wing and one of the event coordinators, is also a former Thunderbird pilot.

"They have six airplanes that fly for the demonstration," he explained, "four that stay together in what we call the diamond formation, showing precision flying capabilities of Air Force pilots. They'll do some really interesting maneuvers."

Two solo pilots will show off the F-16s' capabilities. "They're going to be flying low, fast, upside down, coming at each other head-to-head, really exciting stuff, the kind of stuff that really takes your breath away," Case said.

Ireland pointed out that besides being entertaining, this is an important community event.

"It's not just important because it's fun to come and watch the planes fly, but it's also a recruiting tool for the Air Force. Little kids who come out for the first time - boys and girls - see these planes and go, ‘That's what I want to do,' he said.

In honor of Memorial Day, this year's theme is "Warrior's Over the Wasatch: A Legacy of Valor." The event also includes static planes that the public can look through and talk to pilots about. This year, visitors can buy food at the event or bring their own food, but coolers are prohibited. Free water will be provided.

More information is available at

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Jennifer Hardman


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