JBLM Air Show Returns After Four-Year Hiatus

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Airshow and Warrior Expo returns to the south sound this weekend for the first time in four years.

The last air show at JBLM occurred in 2012 before the U.S. Air Force aerial demonstration team, Thunderbirds, were grounded due to budget constraints causing the cancellation of the 2013 show. The Thunderbirds returned to the skies the following year with tightened purse strings causing JBLM to get passed over in recent years.

“After a four-year hiatus, we’re extremely pleased to bring this magnificent event back to the south sound,” said Col. Daniel S. Morgan, JBLM Garrison Commander.

The two-day event will feature the Thunderbirds as the marquee act, along with the U.S. Army’s Parachute Demonstration Team, the Golden Knights. Additionally, JBLM’s airfield will be packed with static display aircraft and military vehicles, food vendors, souvenir booths, and fair-like activities for all ages.

The 2012 air show drew approximately 150,000 spectators on a July weekend, inundating Interstate 5 in both directions of the base. Due to construction on I-5 southbound, this year’s traffic may be significantly worse. Starting at 10 p.m. Friday, the highway will be reduced to two lanes between Portland Avenue and M Street to remove 1,200 feet of concrete. The restriction will remain in place through 5 a.m. Monday according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

To avoid vehicle congestion and wait times, Pierce Transit is highly recommended. Park at the Lakewood Sounder Station, the Lakewood Towne Center, or the Tacoma Dome Transit Station to catch a bus to the base. Check WSDOT electronic reader boards and social media for traffic updates throughout the weekend.

General public visitors should access the base via exit 125 and proceed to the McChord Field Gate whereas DoD ID cardholders should use exits 119 through 123 to park at Madigan Army Medical Center and take a shuttle to the air show site.

Gates open at 9 a.m. both days and demonstrations begin at 11 a.m. Visitors are reminded to bring a valid photo ID to the gate to obtain installation access. JBLM is a federal military installation, as such there are restrictions to what can and cannot be brought onto the base. For a full list of prohibited items, visit the air show website.

Schedule of performers:

B-17 Stratofortress
UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) and AH-1 Cobra Helicopter demo
WWII Warbird dog fight
Acemaker Jet solo
C-17 Globemaster III demo
U.S Army Golden Knights Parachute demonstration
P-38 Lightning solo
Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar solo
B-25 Mitchell Bomber flyby
Cascade Warbirds
Joint Forces demonstration
F/A-18 Hornet tactical demonstration
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration

is an assistant editor at South Sound magazine. Email her.
Find Out First
Learn about South Sound food, arts
and culture, home design, and more.
no thanks