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Base gears up for air show

By Airman 1st Class C. Todd Lopez

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (Jan. 15, 1999) -- The countdown to Dover Air Force Base's 1999 air show, "A Celebration of Airlift," began this month with a visit from the Navy's premier aerial demonstration team, the Blue Angels advance team.

Marine Corps Maj. Bruce Shank, the Blue Angel's event's coordinator and Navy Lt. Keith Hoskins, the Blue Angels' narrator, arrived at Dover AFB in an FA18-b Hornet, a plane similar to the one that will be used by the Blue Angels in their May 15-16 air show here.

The purpose of the visit was two fold. First, the team wanted to get a feel for the local airspace, and second, the team wanted to brief local air show planners about the requirements of the Blue Angels team.

"This was really a chance to come to the base and familiarize them- selves with the surroundings," said Maj. Frank Smolinsky, 436th Airlift Wing, Public Affairs chief. "As they flew in, they circled the base several times. That was done on purpose to get a good view of the airfield, see how it is laid out, and locate visible obstructions that the team would need to be aware of the day of the show."

Checking out the lay of the land and getting a feel for the air space is important. Sometimes, said Hoskins, they discover an area is too crowded with obstacles such as buildings or power lines, "and those areas are just inappropriate for an air show."

"Once the team landed, they met with the wing air show committee to begin preliminary discussions about the requirements of the Blue Angels, so that we could begin planning, and purchasing the things they need for their performance," said Smolinsky.

The air show committee, made up of representatives from the 436th and 5 12th Airlift Wings, is responsible for putting the show together. The committee is divided into up into subcommittees responsible for everything from taking care of the Blue Angel's billeting arrangements, to concessions and trash pickup after the air show, said Smolinsky.

"They met to discuss operational issues like crowd control, parking, fueling, show line and crowd line," said Maj. Mickie S. Ho, the wing air show director. "Additionally, the Blue Angels wanted to talk to the Federal Aviation Administration and other points of contact at the base to relay their requirements for their portion of the air show."

The in depth and intense planning for the event will allow the Blue Angels to come to Dover Air Force Base and do their job, without having to sweat small details.

"For instance," said Smolinsky, "getting smoke oil for the show, arranging parking and refueling for the planes, and reserving accommodations for the Blue Angels team are all issues which need to be dealt with. Every detail of the Blue Angels arrival and stay here at Dover will be handled by the Dover team. All the Blue Angels will have to do is show up, unpack, get in a jet and fly."

"Planning for the arrival of the Blue Angels will take a lot of organization from every group on base," said Smolinsky. "From crowd control and event security which will be provided by the Security Forces Squadron, to the ground support provided by the Aircraft Generation Squadron, the air show will involve every part of the wing in some way.

"It helps showcase the excellence, talents, and professionalism of the entire Dover Team," said Ho. "All agencies on base will be involved. This is not a one-squadron show. The services squadron, maintenance squadrons, the flying squadrons and the reserves are just some of the agencies that will be represented. It really is a Dover Team effort."

Dover AFB's air show May 15-16 will showcase some of the best elements of the military. "It really shows the taxpayers what they are paying for," said Ho. And from the military as a whole, "it will be a small token of thanks to the public for their sup- port."

A Dover air show web site has been established and can be reached off the Dover AFB web page, located at www.dover.af.mil. It will be updated as new information and details are confirmed.