The military is staging a comeback in Tacoma.
For the first time in seven years, military jets will be back in the air for the Fourth of July Tacoma Freedom Fair and Air Show. The annual event takes place along the Ruston Way waterfront.
This year, all three military branches that offer aerial demonstrations will be flying over Commencement Bay.
“All I did was get the paperwork there on time and then give them a good reason to come,” said air show director Doug Fratoni.
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Freedom Fair 2018 didn’t even have an air show.
The military last made an appearance at the event in 2012. In 2013, federal budget cuts resulting from sequestration and imposed by the Department of Defense caused the military to pull all its air show demo teams from the sky.
Since then, they haven’t been back to Tacoma.
Fratoni said he explained in his applications to the various branches that Tacoma’s event brings out tens of thousands of people, has a patriotic theme and, by the way, you haven’t been here in a long time.
Apparently, it worked.
”I was just floored that I got all three,” Fratoni said.
The Air Force is bringing an F-16 Fighting Falcon. The fighter performs precision aerial maneuvers and can fly at Mach 2.
The Marine Corps is sending the AV-8B Harrier Jump Jet. The jet fighter can make a full stop mid-air and hover like a helicopter. It can also land and take off vertically.
The Navy will be sending an EA-18G Growler from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island to perform a legacy flight. That demonstration involves formation passes with vintage naval aircraft.
The Army will have a static display on Ruston Way.
A number of civilian aerial acts will be appearing at Freedom Fair. They include:
▪ Erickson Aircraft Collection’s F-4U Corsair and P-40 Kittyhawk.
▪ Vicky Benzing in the N3N Stearman biplane.
▪ Will Allen in the Pitts S2B.
▪ Greg Colyer in the T-33 Ace Maker II.
▪ Renny Price in a Sukhoi 29.
▪ West Coast Ravens RV formation Team.
▪ Cascade Warbirds.
All of those civilian acts will also be appearing at Wings and Wheels, July 6-7, at the Tacoma Narrows Airport.