What San Antonians need to know


It’s been years since San Antonians gathered by the tens of thousands on a runway tarmac to watch supersonic jets roar in formation or vintage fighters reenact Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

Once an annual event, the Great Texas Airshow was cut to even-numbered years, then canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus.

But on April 23 and 24, it’ll be back, this time at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

In case you’ve forgotten, here are the basics for getting onto Randolph and what to expect.

When and what

The Great Texas Airshow runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday and is expected to draw more than 250,000 people over the two days.

As always, it’s free.

Both days will feature the Zeroes, Kates and Hawks of “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and end with the screaming precision of the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s demonstration team of F-16s. But there’s a lot more.

This year the joint base is putting on 20 performances in all, including combat and medical extraction demonstratins, a military jump team and an artillery salute by U.S. Army North.

Driving routes

Motorists will find several ways to get to the Great Texas Airshow, with links that provide directions for popular smartphone navigation apps available on www.greatTexasAirshow.com

People will be guided to the three general public gates and parking areas before boarding shuttles to the viewing area. Be sure to bring your masks because you’ll have to wear the on the bus.

Traffic will flow as follows:

 All Pat Booker air show traffic will turn east onto FM 78 and proceed to the East Gate.

 Traffic from the Cibolo and Schertz areas on FM 78 will turn south on FM 1518 and proceed to the Stable Gate or continue straight on FM 78 to East Gate turning left into the base.

 Traffic from the direction of Seguin on Interstate 10 will turn north on FM 1518 or Loop 1604 and proceed to Lower Seguin Road, entering the South Gate.

 Interstate 35 traffic will turn south on Loop 1604, proceed to FM 78 and be directed either to the East Gate or continue to Lower Seguin Road and the South Gate.

Prohibited items:

 Remote-control devices, including cars, planes and drones

 Ice chests/coolers

 Glass containers

 Bicycles, rollers skates/roller blades, scooters, skateboards, Segway style human transporters

 Fireworks or flammable liquids

 Laser pointers

 Tents, portable/temporary awnings/cabanas

 Outside food or drinks

 No Smoking or vaping including e-cigarettes on flightline or tamp areas

 Pets, other than service animals

SOURCE: Joint Base San Antonio


There also will be more than 20 static displays and a chance to get a close look at the Air Force’s newest fighter, the F-35 Lightning II, as well as the Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey, a helicopter that flies like an airplane.

For more on all that and possible updates as the show nears — and a livestream for those who can’t be there in person — go to www.greattexasairshow.com.

Getting in

Air show traffic backs up badly on Pat Booker Road, the most direct route to Randolph from Interstate 35, so consider alternate routes. (See factbox.) Links for directions on major smartphone navigation apps will be available on the air show website to guide you to three general public gates and parking areas.

The threat of coronavirus has receded, but the Air Force will require those coming onto the base to wear masks when riding buses it provides to shuttle people between parking areas and the show.

Another important thing: Don’t bring guns or weapons of any kind. The current list of prohibited items includes firearms, knives, multi-tools, pepper spray and stun guns. Everyone goes through a security checkpoint. Bring only a clear backpack or bag.

And don’t bring your own alcoholic beverages or food. (Nourishment and diapers for small children are OK). Food and drink vendors accept cash and credit cards.

Why they do it

Air shows historically have been a big part of life in San Antonio and many other cities across the nation that are home to military bases.

Previously held in November, the Great Texas Airshow will mark the Air Force’s celebration of its 75th anniversary and give the San Antonio community “an opportunity to interact with the teammates and mission partners who are responsible for making JBSA the DoD’s premier joint base,” Brig. Gen. Caroline Miller, the JBSA commander, said in a statement.

After four years, the Air Force now has a chance to reconnect with Military City, U.S.A., said Rob Strain, the JBSA spokesman.

“We want our neighbors in the San Antonio region to join us,” Strain said. “The air show allows us to foster strong relationships among JBSA and the local communities — the men and women of our armed forces cannot accomplish their mission without the support of the local communities.”

sigc@express-news.net



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