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A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor performs aerial maneuvers in 2019 at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The Tampa Bay AirFest will feature a demonstration of the stealth and maneuverability of the F-22 Raptor.

A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor performs aerial maneuvers in 2019 at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The Tampa Bay AirFest will feature a demonstration of the stealth and maneuverability of the F-22 Raptor. (Jacob Thompson/U.S. Air Force)

(Tribune News Service) — For the first time since 2018, MacDill Air Force Base will be open to the public this weekend for the Tampa Bay AirFest, with tours of vintage military airplanes and performances by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

The event, once put on by MacDill, is now run by a volunteer organization in cooperation with the base and local businesses. It has also reduced its appearances to every two years because of budget cuts.

It was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic, so this will be the first time since 2018 that the public will get to tour the displays and see aerial shows on the base that has called Tampa home for more than 80 years. Some 150,000 people are expected to visit over the weekend.

The event is free, but you can buy premium seating tickets for $40 for the shows at tampabayairfest.com.

There will be burgers, hot dogs, snacks and beer for sale. A Kids Zone sponsored by the Blue Angels will have a 36-foot-tall corkscrew slide, multiple Blue Angel slides and bounce houses, along with an Extreme Air Power Jump.

Gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and opening ceremonies begin at noon. This year’s AirFest coincides with the U.S. Air Force approaching its 75th anniversary on Sept. 18. As a result, Gen. Mike Minihan, the four-star general in charge of Air Mobility Command, will pay a visit.

There will be a flyby of the KC-135 Stratotanker, which provides aerial refueling, and a demonstration of the stealth and maneuverability of the F-22 Raptor. Matt Younkin will perform aerobatics in his World War II-era Twin Beech 18 aircraft, among other aircraft shows. MacDill’s Special Operations Command Para-Commandos will jump from planes with flags, smoke, sparklers, or a combination of each, before the 3 p.m. shows each day by the Blue Angels.

To get to the base, vehicles coming from South Tampa and areas east of Tampa should utilize the Dale Mabry Highway and MacDill Avenue gate, organizers said. Vehicles coming from west of Tampa should take S West Shore Boulevard to Interbay and enter the Tanker Way Gate just east of Manhattan Avenue.

©2022 Tampa Bay Times.

Visit tampabay.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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