After a six-year hiatus, McConnell Air Force Base is bringing back its annual air show.
“We’re gonna bring you an air show,” Col. Josh Olson, commander of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, announced Wednesday at a Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview.
The air show, planned for Sept. 8-9, 2018, will be called “Frontiers in Flight” as an homage to McConnell’s and the city’s past and future in aviation.
“We owe it to the city to open our doors and show you all of the great things we’ve been working on,” said Olson, who in July assumed command of McConnell’s largest wing, and the largest tanker wing in the Air Force.
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The Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s aerial demonstration team, are expected to perform. Other planning is still under way.
Boeing’s new KC-46A Pegasus air refueling tanker is expected to be at McConnell by then. The Air Force is expected to receive its first, next-generation tanker in spring 2018.
Preparation at McConnell to receive the KC-46, including $267 million in new construction over the past three years, is the main reason the base postponed what had been an annual air show, Olson said.
McConnell’s resources have also been stretched thin, he said, adding that three-quarters of the base’s fleet of KC-135 tankers have been deployed on domestic and international missions during that time.
Olson also said at the luncheon that McConnell is working on a partnership with the Chamber’s Young Professionals of Wichita in a program called Mission Wichita. Specifics of the community leadership development program are still evolving, but the program will pair a select group of YPW members with McConnell officers and enlisted personnel.