CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For visitors to Joint Base Charleston hoping to see some of the greatest military and commercial aircraft in the country on display, the only disappointment came when it was time to leave.
Gates closed for the Joint Base Charleston Air& Space Expo at 5 p.m., but well before that, people were complaining about what they described as long lines as thousands of people tried to leave the base at the same time.
Saturday afternoon, Joint Base Charleston spokesman Marvin Krause issued a statement on the parking delays:
Our Air & Space Expo committee extensively planned the parking and exiting of up to 24,000 vehicles attending the Joint Base Charleston 2018 Air & Space Expo today. Hundreds of Air & Space Expo trained volunteers, security forces personnel and local law enforcement agencies implemented the event parking and exiting plan utilizing the Air Base's two limited access points. For the delays associated with thousands of vehicles exiting the base at the same time this afternoon, we reversed all outgoing lanes according to the traffic parking and exit plan at approximately 3 p.m. to mitigate the traffic delays and increase traffic flow movement. We received many calls about the traffic flow delays and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.
Some visitors reported delays of between one to two hours waiting in line to exit the base, while others said their wait time was closer to four hours.
"We did the best we could to funnel in folks, reverse the traffic flow on Aviation to make it inbounds," said Colonel Jimmy Canlas. "Unfortunately, there were bottlenecks that did cause some traffic backups."
Nancy Linderman, who decided to cut off her car and roll down her windows, said some military personnel did their best to make things comfortable for those in traffic.
"I told him we were in line forever and I was a diabetic," Linderman said. "He gave me crackers to help me and I want to say thank you to them for that."
Gates opened at 8:30 a.m. for the family-friendly event. Parents were encouraged to bring water, sunscreen and earplugs because of the roar of flyovers.
JBC officials say they were honored to provide a close-up and personal look at the outstanding men and women of the American military.
The show included military and civilian aircraft fly-overs and demonstrations featuring a C-17 Globemaster III, F-16 Fighting Falcons, a MiG-17 and a P-51 Mustang.
The show went on as planned despite Thursday's announcement that the Air Force Thunderbirds team would not perform.
The squadron said there would not be enough time to properly train a new pilot after the death of Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, who was killed on April 4 while performing a routine exercise at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.