By Edward Cardenas
HARRISON TOWNSHIP (CBS Detroit) – The roar of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the inspirational stories from women in aviation and the unique opportunity to see military equipment up-close are some highlights of the 2014 Selfridge Open House and Air Show.
The free event, held Sept. 6 and 7, at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, is expected to draw as many as 75,000 people a day to watch the show in the air and tour the displays of equipment from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Border Patrol and Customs & Homeland Security at the base.
“It takes a lot of work and planning to host an event of this magnitude, but to be able to use the event as a way to thank you to our neighbors, who have been so supportive of our military personnel over the years makes it more than worthwhile,” said Col. Philip Sheridan, 127th Wing commander and commander of the base, in a release.
The Open House, which also offers free parking, is one of the few times when the base is open to the general public. The gates will open at Selfridge both days at 8 a.m., with flying to begin late morning. The Open House concludes with the end of flying, around 4 p.m. both days. The flying schedule is not published in advance.
In addition to the flight demonstrations by the Blue Angels and civilian performers, there will be new features including the “Women in Aviation” tent where many of the pilots, maintainers and other female personnel who will be active in the Air Show portion of the Open House will make short presentations Saturday on their careers and answer questions from guests, according to organizers.
Other civilian female performers include Misty Blues all-women skydiving team; Patty Wagstaff, a six-time member of the US Aerobatic Team who is the first woman to win the title of US National Aerobatic champion and one of the few people to win it three times and Suzanne Oliver, the nation’s only active female professional skywriter.
One of the military participants will be Michigan Air National Guard Maj. Bethany Torma who grew up watching planes fly in and out of Selfridge and is now piloting KC-135 Stratotankers at the Macomb County base.
“I wanted to be a paratrooper when I was a kid. My grandpa talked me out of that,” said Torma, who has been a pilot for the 14 years. “He was a pilot in D-Day. He encouraged me to pursue flying.”
About the show:
- Free water stations will be available at the Open House and food and beverages will be available for sale at numerous concession areas. Most concessions will operate on a cash-only basis. Coolers will not be allowed into the Open House area.
- General admission and parking is free at the Open House, premium seating options being introduced for the 2014 event. Premium seating is available for $20 in advance or $25 at the Open House. Luxury Chalet seating, which includes a catered lunch, is available for $95 for adults, $50 for children in advance or $100 and $55 at the Open House. Information on the seating options is available at www.selfridgeopenhouse.com
- Visitor access to Selfridge during the Open House may be made from the north or the south. From the north, enter the base’s main gate from Jefferson Avenue, at the junction of Jefferson and Rosso Highway (M-59). Those requiring handicap parking should enter at the main gate. The exit ramp (240) from Interstate 94 to Rosso Highway East and Rosso Highway along the base will be closed during the Open House. Jefferson may be accessed from 21 Mile, exit 241 on I-94. From the south, visitors may exit I-94 at North River Road (exit 236) for access to a special Open House gate to the base. The Open House gate is located west of Bridgeview Road.
- Coolers, glass bottles, backpacks and cooking equipment are not allowed into the Open House area. Lawn chairs (chair bags should be left in car), strollers, fanny packs and small wagons are allowed.
- Attendees can bring cameras to the Open House, but equipment should be limited to that which is easily carried. Large camera bags will not be allowed in the Open House area. All items will be subject to search upon entering the base and/or Open House area.
- Be prepared to walk, a lot. The average visitor could walk 2-5 miles just to experience everything in the show.
- Drink plenty of fluids during the day. The sun and wind can dehydrate spectators quickly.
- Wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day to avoid overexposure to the sun. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Watch your step, particularly around tents or displays that may have staked ropes tying them down or while walking through grass parking lots that may be uneven or have holes.
- Be careful and pay attention while walking around or through static aircraft displays. Some aircraft may have little headroom inside and some aircraft wingtips can be right at head level.
- Do not smoke on the ramp or spectator area.
- Waiting in line to enter the show and to enter and exit the base takes some time. Be prepared for delays.
- Report suspicious activity to uniformed personnel.
Information on the Open House is available on the web at www.selfridgeopenhouse.com.