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Coordination vital in planning successful 2016 Pax River air show

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Two Search and Rescue (SAR) pilots are at the hub of this year’s upcoming NAS Patuxent River Air Expo, scheduled Oct. 29 and 30.

Lt. Clayton Martin, who flies the MH-60S helicopter for Pax River’s SAR Unit, and Lt. Mark Stanfield, SAR officer, are providing pivotal coordination between all of the air show’s major players, including numerous departments across Pax River, community partners outside the fence and representatives from the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron Blue Angels.

Planning every facet of the event

As Air Show Events Coordinator, Martin is responsible for contacting performers; negotiating performance and support agreements; air operations budget execution and management; venue layout; static displays; and coordinating community outreach, security, traffic control and emergency response.

“I volunteered for the role because I’ve always held a deep admiration for air shows and the broader world of action entertainment,” explained Martin, who said attending his first show as a child hooked him on the wonders of flight and inspired him to become what he is today. “I was also excited about the challenge of planning such a massive event and knew it would be a great opportunity to work with some top-notch individuals both here on base and in the local community.”

When asked to identify some of the departments he’d be working with around Pax, Martin said it would be harder to identify a department he won’t be working with.

“Air operations; air traffic control; Morale, Welfare and Recreation; Public Works; supply; security, fire, medical; and multiple tenant commands will all play a huge role in making the air show run smoothly,” Martin noted. “Outside organizations, such as St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department, various volunteer fire departments and EMS units, St. Mary’s County Schools and others will also have major involvement in ensuring a successful event.”

Meeting the needs of the Blue Angels team

While Martin is busy synchronizing Pax and the community, it’s Stanfield’s job – as Blue Angels liaison – to serve as the squadron’s one-stop shop and information source for this particular event.

Back on Dec. 2, two Blue Angels pilots paid an initial preseason visit to Pax and it was Stanfield’s responsibility to schedule the arrival and maintenance/fueling of their #7 jet, and to arrange a high-profile brief with the NAS commanding and executive officers as well as other important contacts on base, in the city and county, and with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“I’m now coordinating things like personnel support – lodging and vehicles – for their entire team of pilots, maintainers and other Blue Angels personnel; I’m reaching out to the county for school visits; Make-a-Wish-type events; Sheriff’s Department vehicle escorts; and scheduling media and key influencer rides in the F/A-18 Blue Angels and C-130 Fat Albert aircraft,” he said.

On-base departments Stanfield will coordinate in support of the Blue Angels team include security, fire and rescue; maintenance support provided by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23; NAS public affairs; airfield tower supervisor; aircraft fuels division; and air operations.

“Others I’ve been working with in town and throughout the state are car rental companies, the manager for the team’s hotel, enlisted Sailors and Marines from local Navy and Marine Corps recruiting, St. Mary’s and Calvert county sheriff’s departments, and the FAA Air Show Monitor,” Stanfield said. “I’m working hard to support this show through effective partnerships and harnessing my graduate education in leadership wherever I can.”

Regular meetings are scheduled throughout the months leading up to the expo to discuss the various planning elements and adherence to the strict deadlines requested by the Blue Angels in their 2016 Support Manual.

Both men take their volunteer roles very seriously, and feel honored to be working closely with such a famous and highly-respected flight demonstration team.

“The air expo will provide a unique opportunity for the general public to experience the thrills of aerobatic flight through a wide variety of performances,” Martin said. “This show will be a memorable occasion that will have folks buzzing for years to come; and, hopefully, inspire a passion for flight in the next generation.”

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