VIENNA - The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds airshow is slated to return to the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in May.
The 910th Airlift Wing this week announced plans for the 2014 spring airshow and open house. The wing had been planning to host a show in the summer, but moved up the dates to accommodate the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team on May 17 and18.
"We are proud to have the opportunity to welcome the Thunderbirds to Youngstown and are excited for the opportunity to show off our world-class facilities and personnel," said U.S. Air Force Reserve Colonel James D. Dignan, 910th Airlift Wing Commander.
YARS hosted their last "Thunder Over the Valley Air Show" in 2009 with more than 70,000 people in attendance to see the Thunderbirds perform aerial maneuvers. Eric White, spokesman for the 910th, said the station is preparing for a similar turnout for the upcoming show.
Attempts to have a 2013 air show were squelched by sequestration cuts; Lt. Col. Greg Moseley commander of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron said 2013 was tough on the team, with their flying hours being cut drastically.
"Overall, the Air Force has reduced flying hours and shows scheduled," Moseley said. "The outreach of the Air Force was also reduced."
Being grounded, he said the squadron used their time to focus on safety. This year the Thunderbirds are excited to be back on track with 66 demonstrations planned at 34 locations, though overseas shows have been canceled.
"There was a big push from (the Office of the Secretary of Defense) and the (Department of Defense) to form a relationship with the American public, so we built a schedule around that," Moseley said. "And we haven't been (to Youngstown) since 2009 ... It's a great venue to continue outreach and relationship building."
Besides connecting with the public and showing off their skills, Moseley said the shows help recruit future generations of airmen. For YARS, White said the show is an opportunity to show off the station's C-130 Hercules aircraft operations.
"It's a chance for us to reach out to the community and to say thank you for their support," White said.
In 2009, he said the station offered tickets which they then decided not to require. This coming year the show will be free and open to the public without the need to register for tickets.
White also said the station is looking into static displays and more aerial performers to fill up the weekend event, while the open house still is getting final approval.
Information on the show will be kept up to date on the 910th website, www.youngstown.afrc.af.mil, and on their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/YoungstownARS.