04/24/07 — Seymour Johnson AFB officials prepared for safe air show

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Seymour Johnson AFB officials prepared for safe air show

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 24, 2007 1:52 PM

It could have happened anytime, anywhere -- even during the Wings Over Wayne Airshow.

So when the Blue Angels Navy Flight Demonstration Team's No. 6 jet crashed during a performance over Beaufort, S.C., it came as no surprise that potential show-goers would ask questions about safety.

"What if?" scenarios are just a part of life, base officials said.

But Wings Over Wayne Airshow director Maj. Craig Lucey said strict safety guidelines are in place and emergency response plans are looked over every day to ensure a great show on the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base flight line May 12.

The base's emergency response plan encompasses every possible disaster, Lucey said, "everything from an air-to-ground mishap to a child that might get lost."

And performers train daily to ensure they always put safety first, he added.

They are briefed before take-off and work hard year-round to ensure every stunt and demonstration goes off without a hitch.

Wing officials added they work closely with Goldsboro and Wayne County responders to ensure a quick response should the worst occur -- participating in exercises and establishing flowing lines of communication.

Last June, a portion of Elm Street was closed for Orbit Comit, an exercise that put local responders at the scene of a KC-135 crash.

The exercise was meant to test the capabilities of local, regional and federal response in a variety of terrorism and force protection threats.

Moments after the call went out, Goldsboro Police Department cruisers hustled down Elm Street and blocked through traffic. Civilians would not be allowed to interfere with the crash site.

So instead of asking those "What if" questions, it is business as usual on the flight line of Seymour Johnson.

Lucey said he and other event planners are simply out to give those who show up May 12 the best day possible.

"We're looking forward to having an outstanding show," he said. "We have some great acts performing this year."