CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A coastal flyover saluting America’s armed forces will continue as planned Saturday, but without F-16s from Shaw Air Force Base.
The “Salute from the Shore” is free and open to the public and will feature military planes as well as a vintage, civilian-owned aircraft. This year’s event will begin at the North Carolina-South Carolina border 40 miles north of Myrtle Beach at approximately 1 p.m. and follow the coastline south to Bluffton.
Shaw Air Force Base decided to withdraw from the event after one of its pilots was killed late Tuesday night in a jet crash on the base. Authorities identified the pilot as 1st Lt. David Schmitz.
McEntire Joint National Guard Base will take Shaw Air Force Bases place to join the salute with two F-16s. The South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base expressed a desire to fill the role that Shaw had previously accepted but couldn’t honor as a result of the loss Schmitz.
Organizers of the event called McEntire’s desire to fly for Shaw “the absolute representation” of members of the armed forces “having each other’s back.”
A statement from organizers of the event said C-17 pilot Capt. Dennis Conner will dedicate his flight in remembrance of Schmitz. Conner will be flying a flag in Schmitz’s honor that will be sent to his widow.
Conner will also pilot his plane over Lakes Moultrie, Marion, Murray and Hartwell between 11 a.m. and noon in tribute.
Spectators are encouraged to stick around once the initial military planes pass over to see a vintage P51.