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Keep eyes, ears open for new features at JBLM Freedom Fest

Northwest Guardian

Published: 04:08PM June 30th, 2014

This year’s Freedom Fest at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will showcase the freedom of the open sky with a two-hour series of aerial demonstrations.

Colin Brooks, Directorate of Family & Morale, Welfare & Recreation special events coordinator, said nine aircraft will take to the skies above Gray Army Airfield at Lewis Main July 4 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

It’s the first time Freedom Fest has featured aerial acrobatics, and Brooks said it’s a great addition.

“We’ve been doing the same things for Freedom Fest for the past couple years, so this mixes it up a bit,” he said.

The series features military and civilian aircraft, all privately owned and flown. The military craft include:

n a 1940 Boeing Stearman, a World War II-era biplane used for training;

n a T-6 Texan, a WWII-era monoplane trainer;

n a Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon, a WWII-era twin-engine bomber;

n a North American Aviation P-51D Mustang, a WWII-era fighter-bomber;

n and a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, a Korean War-era jet trainer.

The civilian craft include:

n an Extra EA-300 aerobatic monoplane flown by Jacquie Warda;

n a Sukhoi SU-29 aerobatic monoplane flown by Renny Price;

n a Pitts S2-B aerobatic biplane flown by Will Allen;

n and a Lear 24 jet flown by Clay Lacy.

Warda, a 60-year-old pilot who has been flying for 28 years, has flown before at the McChord Air Show and said she is excited to be back.

“It’s a small way we give back to them,” Warda said. “I think one of the greatest things our country does is open our bases to the public to show them what we’re doing.”

Warda said she is a biplane girl at heart, but she said her Extra is a real air show plane, capable of things the biplanes are not. She said she puts on an aggressive show not normally associated with ladies of a certain age.

“It’s not expected of women who are older,” Warda said. “It’s still kind of a novelty.”

The series comes courtesy of the Tacoma Events Commission, which already booked the pilots for that city’s Freedom Fair the same day. Brooks said the commission approached JBLM and offered to facilitate setting up the demonstrations, “and we jumped on it.”

Brooks said there will be bus shuttles available across the base to take people to Freedom Fest and bleachers facing Gray Army Airfield for the aerial demonstration. In past years, car traffic has packed Lewis Main during Freedom Fest, and Brooks said the buses should help.

The buses will run all day. Pick ups are at Greenwood, Hillside and Beachwood community centers.

During the demonstration, the buses will drop off people at the bleachers near the Burger King along Liggett Avenue. After 2 p.m., the shuttle pick-up and drop-off point moves to Bitar Avenue.

The demonstration isn’t the only new part, Brooks said. Units will have static military vehicle displays at Waller Hall for people to explore.

Other favorites return this year, including the Classy Chassis car show, bounce houses, beer garden, fireworks, carnival rides and live entertainment.

Go to www.jblmmwr.com/freedomfest for a list of events.