2016 Power in the Pines Open House and Air Show
The nation’s only tri-service military base, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, held its biennial Power in the Pines Open House and Air Show during the weekend of May 14th and 15th, 2016. The sprawling 42,000 acre base was formed in October, 2009 when three military bases were joined into one mega-facility. All five of the current military services were represented at this year’s show.
McGuire AFB was the site of the flying event, and packed over a dozen civilian and military acts in aerial presentations, while near 60 displays were arrayed on the large ramp on the ground. An estimated 375,000 spectators took in the event, even though a less than perfect weather forecast missed the mark over the weekend. What this all means is that there are some really big numbers that describe a really big show!
Named after Thomas McGuire, the second-highest scoring fighter ace in the Army Air Force in World War II, the base was originally part of the Fort Dix Army base. The airport was not heavily used until the early 1950s, when its strategic location on the northeastern Atlantic seaboard drew both air defense and transport units that protected major cities from Cold War attacks, and moved cargo between the U.S. and Europe and Africa.
As an air defense base, the unmanned CIM-10 Bomarc supersonic missile was part of the defensive weapons shield deployed from the base, as well as manned aircraft that were directed by the New York Air Defense Sector. During the 1950s and 1960s, aircraft from piston-engined F-82 Twin Mustangs to F-94 Starfire jets were directed from bunkers on the base, the latter jets were controlled using the SAGE system.
The Military Air Transport Service took over the base operations in 1954, and a progression of long ranged transports operated from McGuire’s runways… C-54, C-118, C-124 propeller-driven transports moved cargo and passengers. The jet age brought C-135 and C-141 transports, and later, the current KC-10 and C-17 airlifters.
The air show flying display was headlined by the Air Force Thunderbirds, the Navy’s F-18 Super Hornet, and the Army’s Golden Knights, while civilian performers included the Breitling Team, GEICO Skytypers and the B-25 Panchito. An Air Force B-2 Spirit performed a series of fly-by passes on Saturday, and a Marine Air-Ground Task Force provided helicopters and a KC-130 in the air both days. A home-based KC-10 and C-17 dissimilar formation in a pre-contact refueling formation showed off the local aircraft in good form.
On the ground, a wide array of military hardware was assembled. Air Force aircraft included a T-6A Texan II, KC-10 Extender tanker/transport, and mighty bombers of the B-1B and B-52H variety. Navy E-2C+ and C-2A aircraft were joined by a New York-based Marine Reserve KC-130T.
The home state of New Jersey displayed a pair of Air National Guard F-16Cs and a KC-135R. The nearby 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard, sent an A-10C Warthog too. Among the Army displays were helicopters and a C-12V Huron, a Super King Air derivative.
Next JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst show is in 2018, and one can anticipate some really big numbers again….