KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
After months of planning, the City of Biloxi and Keesler Air Force Base hosted the first-ever joint air show with two different locations, May 4-5.
Many people came out to see the static displays of different air craft and performances. What many people don’t think about is the planning and coordination it takes to make ensure the air show runs smoothly.
“We started having meetings back in December. It was our first full meeting with all of the committee heads and we started planning,” said Alfred Watkins, 81st Infrastructure Division Operations Flight chief. “The communication aspect is the hardest part about hosting a joint air show, but in the end, both partners adapted and overcame.”
The City of Biloxi helped provide the resources that were needed to include metal barricades for crowd lines, tents and anything else that would be necessary for the air show. The 81st Logistics Readiness Squadron provided the transportation while the 81st Mission Support Group provided the infrastructure, water, electric and security aspect needed for the air show.
Although the City of Biloxi and Keesler AFB planned heavily in preparation for the air show, they did not prepare for a tornado to hit on the first day.
“The storm we had put a mix into it that we’re not accustomed to,” said Watkins. “We had to go out there after the storm and clean up. We also assisted the City of Biloxi and the 81st Force Support Squadron with their tents that were destroyed.”
After the storm and destruction from Mother Nature, the team worked together to pick up the pieces and put it all back together to ensure a successful second day of Thunder Over the Sound.
“On the second day of the air show when everything winds down, we ramp back up,” said Watkins. “We drop tents, barricades and we put everything back the way it was.”
After months of planning for this big event, Watkins said the experience is worth it.
“It’s gratifying because you get to see the fruits of your labor, the smiles on people’s faces and their excitement,” said Watkins.
Even when an air show is done, the team continues to work. Keesler is a big part of the City of Biloxi and the collaboration that began in 1941 will remain and become stronger.