Thunder Over the Blue Ridge to roll into Martinsburg

Air show this weekend at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport

September 14, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

Area residents should not be alarmed if they see unusual aircraft fly overhead on Friday.

Two days of Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Open House & Air Show performances at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport are not expected to begin until late Saturday morning, but aircraft will be flying into Shepherd Field Friday to practice for the event hosted by the 167th Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard.

“Safety is our top priority,” said Maj. Andrew Schmidt, the 167th Airlift Wing’s public affairs officer.

In fact, active-duty service members, along with guardsmen, reservists, military retirees and their families, are invited to visit the Airlift Wing from noon to 4 p.m. on Friday to see “the finishing touches” of show preparations as part of a “military appreciation” day at the base.

For the shows on Saturday and Sunday, parking lots will open at 7:30 a.m., and the gates open at 9 a.m. Performances are tentatively scheduled to begin about 11 a.m.

Admission is free, but spectators are being encouraged by show organizers to make a $10 per-person donation at the gate to United Way of the Eastern Panhandle. Last year’s show generated more than $125,000 for charitable causes when about 80,000 people turned out.

“We feel this is going to be a great time for everyone,” Schmidt said Wednesday of the show lineup and various activities on the base.

The Viper East F-16 Demonstration Team, U.S. Aerobatic Champion Paul Jennings and the Trojan Horsemen, and the T-28 Warbird Aerobatic Formation Demonstration Team are among several aerial acts slated to take to perform.

On the ground, several aircraft will be on display, including the T-38 Talon and A-10 Thunderbolt II. The Transformers: Dark of the Moon Mack Truck Display also will be featured.

A large Kids Village will include air bounces and a magic show each day. And a partnership with NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., will bring flight simulators for children to experience what it it’s like to fly a plane.

To get to the show, spectators are being encouraged to take Exit 8 off Interstate 81 to get to visitor parking areas off Business Park Drive. Buses will shuttle spectators to the base. Handicapped parking will be available off Novak Drive in the “Sino parking lot.”

A list of detours, parking restrictions on multiple streets around the airport and directions to the show are posted on the Air Show’s website at

At the gate, all bags will be inspected, and spectators are subject to possibly being searched. A list of items that are prohibited on base include food, glass containers, backpacks, coolers — except those for medical purposes — and weapons. A list of what is permitted on the base is posted on the air show’s website.

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