Wings over Wayne 17 Air Show wows spectators

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Brittany E. Jones
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base hosted a two-day, free, Wings Over Wayne Air Show, May 20-21, 2017. The event featured more than 20 acts, including demonstrations by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team, a 4th Fighter Wing 75th Anniversary review flight and more.

The air show attracted more than 230,000 people from across the globe to the base over the weekend, beating the previous 2015 attendance record.

Various civilian aircraft and U.S. Air Force demonstration teams flew prior to the Blue Angels, the show’s headliner, who performed at about 3 p.m. on both days. While the audience below watched with eyes glued to the sky, the team executed multiple aerial stunts with precision.

“We hear about the U.S. Air Force all the time on TV and we read about it,” said Samuel Akoto from Rocky Mount, North Carolina. “But I’ve seen the real thing today. Don’t mess with the American Air Force … just don’t.”

In addition to the aerial acts, the 4th Security Forces Squadron performed military working dog demonstrations, set up a Combat Arms Team booth displaying weapons, and the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard completed a performance as well.

More than 35 static display aircraft were parked on the ramp for attendees to view, snap photos and some were even opened for a walk-through experience. 

“I’m 84 years young, and this is my first air show ever,” said Betty Bailey from Ohio. “I’m so excited, I don’t know what to do. I’m just enjoying everything so much. I think they have done a fabulous job here.”

Wings Over Wayne is held in odd-numbered years and is a way for Seymour Johnson to thank the local community for their support of airpower and the base’s mission. The base’s next air show is currently scheduled to be held in 2019.

“I’m honored to be the Wings Over Wayne Air Show director. We’ve been working on this event for more than a year, and it’s absolutely cool to see it all finally come together,” said Maj. Matthew Olde, air show director. “It’s awesome to look out on the ramp and see hundreds of thousands of people here enjoying the day. The team has done so much planning and have worked day-in and day-out for the community to come to this event.”

This year’s air show was unique because it coincided with the 4th Fighter Wing’s 75th Anniversary. To commemorate the occasions, the event showcased a historical review flight featuring the P-51D Mustang, the F-86 Sabre and the F-15E Strike Eagle.

The 4th Fighter Group was activated Sept. 12, 1942 in Debden, England during World War II. They began to fly Mustangs in February 1944 and are credited as the top scoring Allied fighter group of WWII. Notably, the group was the first to infiltrate airspace over Germany and collectively destroyed 1,016 enemy aircraft.

In March 1949, the group transitioned to the F-86 Sabre aircraft and flew missions during the Korean War. Once again, the 4th was designated the top fighter unit during that conflict, having destroyed 502 enemy aircraft.

The 336th Fighter Squadron became the first operational F-15E Strike Eagle squadron in 1989, and in 1991, the 4th FW became the first fully operational Strike Eagle wing in the entire Air Force.

The F-15E is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The Strike Eagle has fought in many operations, including, Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Anaconda, Iraqi Freedom and Inherent Resolve.

In September 2017, the 4th FW will celebrate the 75th anniversary with a weekend of heritage events including a dinner, heritage aircraft static displays, a 50-year-old time capsule unveiling, a golf tournament, the Battle of Britain ceremony and base tours.

"The heritage of our wing is impressive. We have accomplished so much over the years. I am incredibly honored to be the commander during the year of our 75th anniversary," said Col. Christopher Sage. "We will celebrate this milestone with current and former 4th Fighter Wing heroes. Be on the lookout for more information about our upcoming weekend of heritage events in September. Fourth but first!"