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Blue Angels fly into Grand Strand to prepare for spring air show

Event will be Grand Strand’s first air show in over a decade

For the first time in over a decade, the Grand Strand will be host to an airshow at the Myrtle Beach International Airport.

The show, titled Wings Over Myrtle Beach, is scheduled for April 28-29, 2018.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will headline the show. Team members flew into Myrtle Beach on Dec. 12 to do a site visit prior to the spring performance, touring the facility and meeting with local authorities and business owners to work out the logistics for the April weekend.

John Cowman, president of JLC Airshow Management, handled the scheduling of performers for the air show.

“We’re a turnkey airshow management company. This is our seventh year doing shows,” Cowman said. “We opened the company in 2011.”

Wings Over Myrtle Beach marks JLC’s third show in a row with the Blue Angels, following shows in Brunswick, Georgia, and Rome, Georgia.

Plans for the show have been in the works for a little less than a year. The April date was selected based on an opening within the Blue Angels’ schedule.

Cowman said Myrtle Beach was a perfect fit to host the show.

“Myrtle Beach is an awesome destination area,” he said. “It’s on the coast [and] typically weather here is really good year-round, especially during show seasons. It’s just a great place to be able to host a jet team.”

Other performers scheduled to appear during the Wings Over Myrtle Beach weekend include the USAF F-16 Viper demo team, USAF F-35 Lighting II Heritage Flight Team, GEICO Skytypers and USSOCOM Para-Commandos Jump Team. Cowman said attendees can expect to see as many as 100 different aircraft during the show as well as a veteran’s parade of honor. More performers will be announced closer to the show date.

“We’ve got a whole laundry list of great talent,” Cowman said. “It’s the show of shows on the East Coast this year.”

Two members of the Blue Angels arrived in style to Beach Aviation Services in their Boeing F/A 18 Hornet two-seater jet Tuesday for their site visit.

Events coordinator Lt. Dave Steppe of Birmingham, Al. and narrator and advanced pilot Lt. Andre Webb of Lawton, Okla. said they were thrilled to have a chance to come to Myrtle Beach.

“We’re excited. We actually haven’t been to Myrtle Beach,” Steppe said. “I don’t think any of us have ever really been before so we’re excited to see the city and perform in front of [this] awesome, awesome community.”

Steppe said setting up the time and place for the air show in the city worked out.

“We had the opportunity with an open date [and] Myrtle Beach stepped up and the community came forward so that’s huge for us,” he said.

Webb said that being a member of the Blue Angels meant showcasing the mission and efforts of the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy.

“Right now on board a ship somewhere in the middle of the ocean there’s young men and women from all over … the world to defend our freedom and defend our rights,” he said. “We kind of embody their spirit and just make the people hopefully back home think about what they’re doing on the front lines for us every single day.”

The Angels said their trip to the Grand Strand wouldn’t just include participating in the air show, but also community outreach.

“We’ll go down in the local community [to] schools [and] local hospitals and just kind of reach out to the public [and] not treat it as a recruiting school, but more as an inspiration tool,” Steppe said. “ … I don’t think any of us ever thought we’d be wearing a blue flight suit or in the Navy flying jets. That was our dream, so that’s what we’re here to do, to inspire that culture of excellence and reach out to the community [and] get that 11 or 12-year-old kid who doesn’t think they can leave here and all of a sudden, boom, they’re wearing a blue flight suit.”

Tickets for the Wings Over Myrtle Beach Air Show go on sale on Dec. 19. To learn more, visit wingsovermyrtlebeach.com.

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