As far as the Thunderbirds are concerned, MacDill Air Force Base is “Go.”
The renowned Air Force aerial performance team recently recognized the base for having the best military air show of 2014.
The Thunderbirds performed in Tampa last March during AirFest and had such a good time they named MacDill the “Best Military Show Site,” according to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, the base host unit.
The award was presented to MacDill on Feb. 9, with Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James presenting the award to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
“Each year, the Thunderbirds perform across the nation, dazzling audiences and inspiring the next generation of airmen to serve their country,” said James. “To be named the best military show site is quite an achievement, and a testament to what happens when our Air Force works hand in hand with the community.”
More than 30 show locations were evaluated and a wide variety of criteria assessed, according to the wing.
“The award is given to the military show site that contributed the most to the Thunderbirds’ mission,” said Thunderbirds public affairs representative Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton. “This includes recruiting, logistics, public and community relations, community involvement, and the planning that provided the most support to the successful completion of a safe air show.”
MacDill Airfest attracted more than 185,000 spectators over the two-day event, according to the wing, and included the likes of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson.
“Winning an award of this magnitude becomes even more significant given the fact that the entire event was planned in less than 90 days and backed by significant funding from the local community,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt Brandon Shapiro in an email to The Tampa Tribune.
“The 6th Air Mobility Wing’s initial planning started months before the event, however, with fiscal budgeting constraints it wasn’t until roughly three months out that MacDill received the go-ahead from higher headquarters,” Shapiro said. “But, with the OK came limited funding, which ultimately would have given the base a less than desired showcase — that’s when the community reached out to the base and raised additional backing.”
In her speech, James noted the close relationship between the base and community.
“The relationship between MacDill Air Force Base and the Tampa Bay community is second-to-none,” said James. “This is due large in part to the steadfast leadership, the tireless efforts of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, and the men and women of this great city.”