Offutt air show, returning after hiatus, expected to draw 150,000 visitors

Offutt air show, returning after hiatus, expected to draw 150,000 visitors
World-Herald News Service

Look! Up in the sky!

It’s the return of the Defenders of Freedom Air & Space Show at Offutt Air Force Base.

The Offutt show will have something for the whole family, said Maj. Hunter Horste, air show director for the Offutt-based 55th Wing. Flight demonstrations of the Air Force’s F-35 and F-22 fighter jets will headline the show, which is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 11 and 12.

It will be the first time an F-35 has flown at the show, although F-35s have been on display.

“These are the most advanced fighters that we have, and they will be demonstrating their maneuvering capabilities,” Horste said. “The F-22 and the F-35 will do individual demonstrations and then in formation with a P-38, giving us well over 70 years of aviation history altogether.” The P-38 was developed in the late 1930s.

About 150,000 visitors are expected for the two-day show. Acts include flights by other vintage U.S. military aircraft and a Soviet MiG-17. The Re-Max parachute team also will make jumps.

Ground exhibits include a science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, area for kids and the Brownell-Talbot robotics team. Other features are a kid zone with simulators and a climbing wall.

“It’s a chance to really open our doors to the community and kind of maintain our ties to Bellevue and Omaha,” Capt. Anna Gault said. “It will give them a chance to peek under the curtain and see what we do every day.”

The Offutt air show is returning after a one-year hiatus. The 2017 event, which would have included a Thunderbirds appearance, was canceled because of a heavy deployment of the Wing’s airmen.

The 2019 show also had been in doubt because of a two-year project to repair Offutt’s runway that will begin next year. But 55th Wing officials said actual construction will not begin until after the 2019 air show, when the Wing’s flight operations will move to facilities at the Lincoln Airport.

“There’s always a lot of excitement with being able to show people what we do,” Horste said. “Our airmen really look forward to the show, too.”

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