4th of July Freedom Fair

As the fireworks settled over the water, the 2012 4th of July Freedom Fair came to a close where thousands came out in force to support the Tacoma waterfront Tradition  knowing that this could possibly be the last one ever.

The Freedom Fair is in 2 parts, it starts off with an airshow where they managed to capture a big headline in the F-22 Raptor, which besides being the only single ship demo team for the Air Force this year,  it had never performed the full demo in Seattle before, and then the firework show in the evening. It was set to be a great day!

Unfortunately there were some hiccups in the event, the airshow cruise that had been planned and tickets had been sold to, got shut down before it ever happened by the Coast Guard on the day before, which means the show had to return the $9,000 that it raised  to the fans, which is just the tip of the iceberg for the financial woes.

Another issue that came up was that the demo pilot for the B-17, Sentimental Journey got called to his regular job as a pilot for Southwest Airlines causing that part of the airshow to also cancel as they didn’t have a backup pilot to fill in.

But that was not to say the least, as a stellar line up was still put up!  VFA-122 brought in there F/A-18, Tim Webber and Vicki Benzing were both flying around in their Extra 300s, Greg “Ace Maker” Colyer was on hand with his T-33 and Greg Anders with his P-51 based out of Bellingham, WA.

When the Raptor got handed the show box at 10:20am for the morning practice show, anticipation set in for many who came out early to get the first glimpse of what they were going to see that afternoon before they did the full demo. Shadow ripped up the Pacific Northwest Skies in F-22 fashion and to say the least fans were not disappointed. However the younger ones were not too thrilled by all the noise. Some hiding behind their parents scared.

Unfortunately though the practice show did get off to a late start and several parts did get cut, and that seemed to be the theme of the day as the main show also got off to a late start and at one point,  just seemed to stop, many patrons thinking that the show was over started to leave not realizing that the F/A-18 was still to come.

The other main attraction to the show was Bill Braack and Smoke-N-Thunder who does actually light the jet car up once it gets dark and shoots some flames just before the fireworks go off! Lots of people piled around the pier he was on in anticipation of knowing what was about to happen. From the 20 foot flame out of the back to the loudness from the jet engine, no one was disappointed by that part of the show my any means.

All around this year’s 4th of July Freedom Fair was another good one and we all do hope that it can continue its tradition next year on Tacoma’s Waterfront!


Brandon Farris

Brandon Farris is an avid aviation photographer who spends his weekends off traveling across the country taking pictures of both civilian and military aircraft. He uses Canon as his main camera. The body he currently uses is the T2i combined with the 100-400MM. When not traveling Brandon resides in Seattle, Washington.

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