Reporting Marybel Rodriguez
HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami) – After a hiatus last year, the Wings Over Homestead air show returns this weekend. In 2010 more than 400,000 people attended this year, more than half a million are expected.
The free air show will feature Air Force Thunderbirds, war planes and the Army Golden Knights parachute team freefalling from thousands of feet in the air.
One day before the big event more than a dozen war veterans were given a sneak peak of the high flying extravaganza. “I am 90 years old and a World War II Veteran and I have never seen anything like this before,” said Ken Chesman.
“It’s about showing the capabilities of the base … and fostering relationships with the people we live next to and work with,” base spokesman Ross Tweten said.
The air show all but stopped for 17 years after Hurricane Andrew pummeled the city of Homestead and flattened the Air Force base there. The base was subsequently downgraded to a reserve base.
The base continued on, but was largely forgotten by the community. So Brig. Gen. William Binger, the commander at the time, revived the air show in 2009 to draw people and attention to Homestead again. They brought the show back the following year generating more than 4 million dollars into the economy of Homestead.
Now, the base is growing with tenants, including Customs and Border Patrol, the Coast Guard, Special Operations Command South and others.
And, for the first time since Andrew, the base welcomed active-duty airmen this year. More than 50 are already on base, and about 150 more are expected by next summer, Tweten said.
“We’re definitely a dynamic base, and we continue to get larger and we continue to expand the base’s mission,” Tweten said.
Homestead officials aren’t releasing schedules for the acts, saying show times are dependant on many factors and are likely to change.
Gates open at 8 a.m. and demonstrations take place through 4:30 p.m., but no one will be let in after 3 p.m. Parking on base is free, but fills up fast. They recommend spectators come early and use exit 9.
For information on the Do’s and Don’ts visit www.wingsoverhomestead.com.
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