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Thunder over Selfridge

US Navy Blue Angels make theri debut in the Selfridge Air Show Saturday September 6. Photo by Erin Sanchez

100th anniversary open house, air show Aug. 19-20

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — It’s finally time: Pulse-pumping, high-flying aerial acrobats will be booming over Macomb County during the Selfridge Open House and Air Show this weekend.

Marking the 100th anniversary of Selfridge Air National Guard Base, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 Demonstration Team will be this year’s headliner during the Aug. 19-20 show.

Brig. Gen. John Slocum said the public is invited to join in celebrating a century of military aviation.

“This is the 100th anniversary, so we’re pulling out all the stops,” said Slocum, who will be experiencing his first Selfridge Open House and Air Show this year. “All ages of the military, from World War I on, all the ages that Selfridge has served in to current day will be represented.”

Slocum came to lead at Selfridge shortly after the 2014 air show, which was headlined by the U.S. Navy’s demonstration team, the Blue Angels. More than 200,000 people attended the open house three years ago, and just as many, if not more, are expected to visit the base this year.

“I’m very excited,” Slocum said. “It’s hard not to get excited when you get together with a couple hundred thousand of your closest friends.

“The 2017 open house will not only celebrate the full century of service the men and women of Selfridge have contributed to America, but will also launch us into our second century,” he continued.

Selfridge was established on July 1, 1917, as America prepared to enter World War I. Officials at the base say that since that time, thousands of airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Homeland Security agents and other public servants assigned to the base have been part of a heritage of service to the state and nation.

This will be the Thunderbirds’ first appearance at Selfridge since 2009.

Lt. Col. Brian Davis, director of the open house and air show, said this year’s event will be different from the past in that there are three main themes to the weekend: Inspire the next generation, honor veterans and engage the community.

The inclusion of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) zone is an effort to introduce local youth to the myriad opportunities offered in the military and military aviation.

The veterans zone, Davis said, will feature 48 veterans organizations, and engaging the community involves the first-ever dinner and military tribute concert featuring A Thousand Horses on the base on Aug. 18, followed by a fireworks show and nighttime air show.

“This will be the first time we’ve ever done a night air show,” Davis said. “It will be quite an evening.”

Ticket information to the public dinner and nighttime air show can be found online at Team Selfridge.com or at eventbrite.com by searching “Selfridge.”

The open house will also include military vehicle displays, the Selfridge Military Museum, and planned are numerous aerial acts representing every era of military aviation for the last 100 years, including the Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny,” which first flew from Selfridge on July 8, 1917.

“There will be something there for everybody, for the whole family,” Slocum said. “There will be so much to see that you’ve never seen up close before.”

Ground displays will include more than 20 different aircraft, including the 127th Wing’s own KC-135 Stratotanker and A-10 Thunderbolt, and the newest joint force striker, the F-35 Lightning II.

The U.S. Air Force is currently considering that Selfridge as one of two permanent home bases for the F-35.

Slocum said that after the visit by Air Force officials to the base last month, he’s confident that Selfridge will come out on top. A decision is expected anytime over the next four months.

“I know our folks did a phenomenal job during the tour of the base,” he said.

Vendors will be on hand during the open house selling food and drinks. Selfridge has a list of items that are prohibited inside the base, and what is allowed past security screening. For further information, including how to get preferred seating, click on “Guest Information” at TeamSelfridge.com.

Gates open both days at 8 a.m. Ground displays begin at 9 a.m., and the air show starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free to the public. Shuttle services from the parking lot to display areas will be available.