EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Just down the 14 Freeway from Edwards AFB at Lancaster's General William J. Fox Airfield, L.A. County held its Inaugural County Air Show March 21 and 22.
The show opened up at 9 a.m. with flightline static displays of aircraft old and new. On display were classic airplanes like a North American T-28 Trojan; the Northrop Grumman and Scaled Composites Proteus; a Russian YAK-3 World War II fighter; a B-25 World War II bomber and the Northrop N9MB Flying Wing among others.
The event featured a four-hour air show that exhibited flying demonstrations of the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center's U-2; an Air Force T-33 Shooting Star; the B-25; performances from the Red Bull Air Force featuring the company's aerobatics helicopter and dogfight demonstrations of World War II and Korean War-era fighters.
Also flying over the crowd was the Skydancer aerobatic performance by pilot Steve Oliver and the local six-plane performance team the West Coast Ravens.
The headliner of the air show was the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Blue Angels, which closed out the show with their six-plane team of F-18C/Ds.
Although government budget constraints have cancelled performances and air shows in recent years, demonstration teams like the Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds will have full schedules of shows this year.
With limitations put on by the Air Force concerning air shows, Edwards AFB has not had an open house since 2009. However, that did not prevent base personnel from coming together and volunteering their personal time to help out the first air show in the Antelope Valley in recent years.
Master Sgt. Cade Peterson, 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron, organized the volunteers from Team Edwards along with the Edwards Top-3 and Bone Marrow Registry booths.
"Involvement from Edward went way beyond the Top-3 booth," said Peterson. "Private organizations from across the base volunteered their own time to help make the airshow an outstanding event! Of course, people weren't in uniform so it may not have been readily apparent, but approximately 130 personnel associated with Edwards [military and civilian] performed support functions that included setup, teardown and manpower for the concessions stands. All of the revenue that will be made from this process will go towards non-profit professional organizations."
Peterson also mentioned Kevin Sevenich, 412th Flight Test Squadron, who put together one of the largest teams of about 24 people from the Speckled Trout Members Association. Their revenue will be used to fund the Desert High School Golf Team.
The West Antelope Valley Education Association was another organization that helped with the airshow. The money they earned goes towards student needs in the Westside Union School District that general funds will not cover.
"Their volunteers included employees from throughout the district. It really says a lot when the administrators, teachers and other members volunteer two days of their spring break to raise money for a worthy cause."
Aside from the concession stands, the Top-3 partnered with other non-profit agencies such as the Air Force Sergeants Association.
"We sold merchandise like coins and t-shirts and will use the profits to address some of the critical needs of our Airmen," said Peterson.
"We also arranged for and invited a BeTheMatch representative to co-locate and get people signed up for the Bone Marrow Registry. Airshow management made it a top priority to find a spot for Team Be The Match, and were instrumental in getting them involved. In particular, there is a young lady from the AV that needs help and we were doing our best to assist."
Editor's note: Her story can be read here: http://www.bethematchfoundation.org/site/TR?px=2867976&fr_id=1960&pg=personal
Peterson said the L.A. County Air Show was well organized and hopes he can work with the same teams on the next air show.
"Air shows in this area are critical. They help to inspire our youth to strive for excellence in their schooling and illustrate an attainable career goal. This is the 'Aerospace Valley.' We are all a part of it and our children are the aerospace specialists of the future. I really enjoyed spending some time with my son on Friday. He followed me around and helped out where he could. I have worked around aircraft for 15 years and have been in plenty of air shows, so it's really more about what the youth get out of it."
Air show officials said that more than 100,000 spectators attended the two-day event.
Check out more photos from the L.A. County Air Show at www.edwards.af.mil