WARNER ROBINS -- Anyone near Robins Air Force Base on Friday may get a preview glimpse of this weekend’s air show.
Acts began flying in Thursday, including the Navy Blue Angels and the F-22 Raptor. The Blue Angels began doing practice flying around the base soon after landing, and the F-22 team planned to fly Friday. Other acts will also be doing practice flying.
The Blue Angels were greeted at the Robins runway by base and community leaders as well as media. Soon after, two F-22s landed and taxied into the F-15 flight-test area, where mechanics emerged from a hangar to admire the world’s most advanced fighter jet.
One F-22 will fly in the air show while the other will be on display, but don’t expect to get too close. The crowd will be kept 25 feet away, and the plane will be protected by armed security forces airmen, who were also on hand when the planes landed.
After meeting base and community leaders, each pilot took time to speak with media.
Capt. Greg McWherter, commanding officer of the Blue Angels, began his comments with support of the other acts in the show, even rattling off a list of many of the other performers.
“I tell folks to come out and see the entire show, not just the Blue Angels,” he said. “Some of the best military and civilian performers on the planet are going to be right here.”
With the Department of Defense facing large funding reductions, leading to broad cutbacks, some have argued that demonstration teams such as the Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds should be cut.
“I think it’s a valid question,” McWherter said. “I think any time our country is in the financial shape we are in we should be asking questions like that. However, I would say it’s very difficult to put a price on what we do. I would submit anyone who questions whether we should fund the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds hasn’t spent a day or a weekend with us seeing the impact we have across the country.”
Shortly after the team landed, two Raptors appeared over the horizon, did a flyby over the runway and came in for a landing.
Maj. Henry Schantz, who will fly the plane in the show, is the only person certified to fly the plane in front of a crowd. He said the plane’s maneuvering capabilities will be put on full display. It will fly at speeds from 60 miles per hour to 600, he said, and he will even fly it backwards.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.