Final preparations underway for Air Expo 2011

(Photo: Charleston Air Expo)
(Photo: Charleston Air Expo)

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SC - Airmen at Joint Base Charleston hit the home stretch Monday as they began final preparations for the Joint Base Charleston Air Expo 2011, "Joint Forces in the Air."

This year's air show is scheduled to be a spectacular event with aerial demonstrations thrilling the crowds for hours. The headline group is the Air Force's demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, who return to Charleston after a three-year absence. Flying inches apart, the Thunderbirds perform hundreds of aerial ballets of high-speed maneuvers each year.

As a tribute to the Centennial of Naval Aviation, the air show will also feature a trio of WWII Pacific Theater demonstrations. The first is "Tora Tora Tora," a reenactment of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which includes controlled explosions and dynamic pyrotechnics in addition to low-level aircraft flying.

The second WWII demonstration is a simulation of the Jimmy Doolittle raid on Tokyo, which features the B-25 bomber, "Panchito."

The final Pacific-theater aerial show is a recreation of the Battle of Midway where F-4U Corsairs simulate an aerial battle with the planes that played the part of the Japanese during Tora Tora Tora.

In addition to the flying demonstrations, there will be over 30 aircraft on display as well as other military equipment and interesting exhibits. Entrance and parking at the Air Expo are free. Gates open at 8 a.m., the opening ceremony commences at 10 a.m. and the flying demonstrations begin shortly thereafter.

Entry to the public will cease at 2 p.m. To maintain safety on the ground, several areas will be closed during the high-speed demonstrations. These locations include the Rivers gate to the base, South Aviation Road and Aviation Avenue.

More information is available at, on Twitter @airexpo2011, and on Facebook. Traffic updates and other news will be tweeted all morning during the air show.

Information provided by the Charleston Air Expo