Selfridge Open House a ‘thank you’ to community

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
A wide range of American military capabilities will be on public display during the 2014 Selfridge Open House & Air Show, scheduled for the weekend after Labor Day.

The Open House - which is free to the public - provides an opportunity for local military units to showcase their mission in a way that also provides a "thank you" to the citizens of the metropolitan Detroit area for their long-standing support of Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

"I've been fortunate to have been able to serve at several bases around our great nation and nowhere are people more patriotic and supportive of our military than right here at Selfridge," said Col. Philip R. Sheridan, commander of the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Wing, which is the host unit at Selfridge. "The support of this community for our Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, and for their families, makes our jobs a little easier.

"The Open House allows us to not only highlight for our friends and neighbors some of the jobs we do here at Selfridge, it is the best way we have to simply say 'thank you' to our community," Sheridan said.

The Open House will feature displays from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as the U.S. Customs & Border Protection agency, which has a significant presence at Selfridge. Among the highlights at the Open House will be an aerial demonstration by the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Team - better known as the Blue Angels. Adding a unique dimension to the visit by the Blue Angels - who last attended a Selfridge Open House in 2005 - is that the team is currently under the command of a Macomb County native, Commander Tom Frosch, a 1998 graduate of Fraser High School. A veteran of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, Frosch will be flying the F/A-18 Hornet designated as "Blue Angel 1" during the Air Show portion of the Open House.

Two themes will be prevalent during the 2014 Open House, said Major Bartley Ward, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot at Selfridge who is serving as the Open House director.

"The first will be the Air National Guard & Armed Forces, obviously demonstrating to the local community the capabilities not only of the air power assets that we operate, but the many, many different skills and abilities that our Armed Forces have based right here at Selfridge and in the surrounding area," Ward said.

To highlight that theme, numerous current and heritage military aircraft will be on display both on the ground for visitors to see and, in many cases, to touch or even enter, as well as in flight. Military ground vehicles, small arms and other equipment will also be on display.

The second theme - Women in Aviation - will highlight the many contributions that female aviators have made to advance the mission of the Air Force and to the development of flight in general. A number of civilian female aerial acrobatic performers are scheduled to appear at the Open House and many of them will also be offering a short presentation about their careers and experiences in aviation.

"The Open House provides an opportunity for the young people of our community to become exposed to some of the possible careers that exist in the military and in aviation in general," Ward said. "We are very pleased that many of the women who will be flying at Selfridge during the Open House will be available to meet our visitors in a designated tent during the show."

Typically held about every-other-year as military obligations allow, the Selfridge Open House always draws a capacity crowd. About 75,000 people generally attend each day of the Saturday-Sunday event, with at least as many people watching from boats on Lake St. Clair and at numerous backyard viewing parties held near the air base in Macomb County's Harrison Township.

With parking and admission to the Open House free, Ward and other Selfridge leaders strongly encourage those who plan on attending the show to arrive early - gates open at 8 a.m. and flying starts around 11 a.m. - and make a day of it, in order to avoid the worst of the traffic congestion that typically takes place during the late morning and afternoon of the Open House.

Among the military aircraft currently scheduled to appear at the Open House, with more expected to be added later this summer, include Selfridge-based A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, KC-135 Stratotankers, CH-47 Chinooks and MH-65 Dolphins, along with B-52 Stratofortress, F-16 Fighting Falcons, T-6 Texans and T-38 Talons. Heritage military aircraft planned include the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-25 Mitchell and C-47 Skytrain, along with a MiG-17, a fighter aircraft used by the Soviet Union during the Vietnam War era. Ground displays will include U.S. Army and Marine Corps armored vehicles, Army robotics and various small arms weaponry. Demonstrations will include A-10 weapons loading and Coast Guard search & rescue operations. A mass swearing-in ceremony for new enlistees in the U.S. military will also take place during the Open House. The Selfridge Military Air Museum, with more than 30 heritage aircraft on display, will also be open during the Open House.

Additional details on the Open House will be available at www.selfridgeopenhouse.com.

Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operation Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 97th year of continuous military air operations in 2014.