Local News

Pope Air Show to Fly Into Sunset

Posted October 4, 2007

— The aerial spectacle staged every year at the Pope Air Show is expected to draw a crowd more than three times its normal size. But fans will be giving a last hurrah to a family favorite.

This weekend's show will be the base's last as Pope Air Force Base closes in the coming months as part of the military's base realignment process. The base will become Pope Army Airfield, incorporated into neighboring Fort Bragg.

"This is it. We want to go out with a big bang," Maj. Brian May, the show's air boss, said.

"We tripled our air show line-up (over what) we've ever had in the past. We're expecting pretty much three times the people we've had in the past," he added.

Thunderbirds and F-16s soared overhead at speeds of more than 400 mph, making their grand entrance to the show on Thursday.

The Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team are the main attraction, but the show also will feature acrobatic planes performing daring maneuvers, and the Army's Golden Knights parachute team will drop in. Modern and vintage aircraft will also be on display.

"I’m really excited that we have the opportunity to come when it is the last show and Pope is going to be Pope Air Force Base," Maj. Ed Casey, pilot of Thunderbird #5, said. "I think it’s also significant that it’s the 60th anniversary of the United States Air Force.

"It’s a big deal, and we’re just happy to be a part of it. "

Military families and Fayetteville workers said they are sad to see the event go.

"This is our one final shot to show what our airmen and soldiers do in Fayetteville," May said. "It's bittersweet."

The Air Force put in extra planning for the large crowd, arranging for additional shuttles, parking and security. Four times the normal amount of metal detectors will be out to speed viewers onto the show.

The show starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and runs through Sunday afternoon. Gates open at 8:30 a.m. each day.


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  • New York Yankee Oct 6, 2007

    The Thunderbirds have a female pilot...Nicole Malachowski.



  • haggis basher Oct 5, 2007

    Only been to one since we came to NC but greatly enjoyed it. Might come down for sundays show.

  • Dismald Oct 5, 2007

    Many will miss Pope AFB, but theres still hope(ouch!) You can all come here to Goldsboro and Seymour Johnson AFB during our air shows. Many don't see the need for air shows, but then again not eveyone likes parades or high school bands either.

  • Dismald Oct 5, 2007

    You can all still come up here to Goldsboro and Seymour Johnson AFB and visit our Air Shows! Goodbye Pope AFB we will miss ya!

  • Panther Oct 5, 2007

    mrtwinturbo are you for real? First of all Pope AFB does not have a lot of hanger space or office space, this is one of the reasons that the Air Force is giving up the base to the Army. Have you ever noticed how many of their aircraft have maintenance done have to sit and wait for hanger space or be repaired outside. Not good. Its obvious that your resources in aviation is not as good as you would hope. Please don’t confuse the two. The Navy needs a place closer to the coast and not in a congested area like Pope And yes its very sad that this is the last air show Pope is having. They have always done an outstanding job, expect nothing but the best again this weekend.

  • rluck1 Oct 4, 2007

    Sad for it to go. But there is usually also a show every year over at Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro. On odd years there is also a show at Cherry Point. The Seymour Johnson show is usually in the late fall, but for some reason, this year it was a week after the Cherry Point show this past spring instead.

  • shine Oct 4, 2007

    Cragsdale..... You may be correct with your logistics....
    Twin Turbo has a good point though.

  • syracuseinwonderland Oct 4, 2007

    My Dad took me to the airplane races in Cleveland, Ohio when I was a child. I thought it was boring. When I went to the 1997 Paris Air Show I mainly stayed inside checking out the vendor boothes.

    I think Air Shows are a waste of time and resources. I especially hate seeing the crashes on the news every year. I don't see what the big deal is.

  • Cragsdale Oct 4, 2007

    They could use this as the new Landing Field Site for the Navy....but I guess the gov't just likes to spend money and destroy more of the environment making new runways. Pope has everything they need, hangar space, office buildings, a tower. localizer transmitter; glide path transmitter; the outer markers,the approach lighting system. What more could you ask for?

    First off. The Proposed Navy site is where it is due to Logistics and Geographical reasons. It's placement is in Eastern-North Eastern NC so that it can service the Marine bases here in NC as well as the Naval stations in Va and Wash. DC. Pope is way too far outside the geographic boundries to safely use as a practice strip for touch-and-go landings and hook arrest landings.

  • jkm0101 Oct 4, 2007

    So why can't the army keep on putting on the airshow, subcontract to the air force if necessary. Our senators & representatives should apply a little pressure to the pentagon.