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McGhee Tyson prepares for first air show in 16 years

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Tom Sherlin

Thousands of parking passes have been sold, 700 volunteers have signed up to assist and more than 30 local, state and federal agencies are preparing to provide security for the Smoky Mountain Air Show this weekend at McGhee Tyson Airport.

It’s an event nearly two years in the making, and the first air show to be held at McGhee Tyson since 2000.

Organizers say the list of performers, headlined by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Squadron, is among the best in the nation.

“We are easily in the top 10 percent talent-wise of all air shows in the nation. Truth be known, if there’s a good metric to measure it, we’re probably in the top five percent,” said Trevis Gardner, vice president of operations for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, during a recent MKAA Board of Commissioners meeting.

Gardner said a couple reasons why they were able to put together such a top lineup of aerial performances were booking the Blue Angels as the main act, and securing Rob Reider as the air show announcer and Wayne Boggs as the air boss. Raider and Boggs are the “premier” announcer and air boss in the business, Gardner said.

Once those three pieces were in place, other top aerial performers were “absolutely delighted” to come to the Smoky Mountain Air Show, he said.

Reider, who helps train all new Blue Angels members during their winter training sessions, visited McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in February to help reveal the list of air show acts. The announcer said the show’s lineup includes “the best of the best of the best.”

The aerial performers coming to McGhee Tyson this weekend are “some of the most talented performers anywhere in our industry,” Reider said.

In addition to the acts in the sky, there will be a number of exhibitors and over 30 aircraft on static display.

There will be live music on two stages, a kids area and over 20 concession and souvenir locations. The Budweiser Clydsdales will be making an appearance.

The same show will be performed on both Saturday and Sunday. Organizers are expecting to park nearly 200,000 cars on any possible open green space surrounding the airfield.

Proceeds from the air show will benefit Honor-Air Knoxville. HonorAir started in 2007 and flies World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the national monuments and war memorials.

HonorAir takes its 20th flight on Wednesday this week and has served nearly 2,800 veterans in East Tennessee.

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