EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE — The first Edwards Air Force Base air show in 10 years will look a little different than originally conceived due in large part to the coronavirus, as it turns into a combination of virtual STEM education events, presentations and community flyovers.
The show will go on with gusto a hybrid event and emphasis on virtual events. The theme: “The Center of the Aerospace Testing Universe. The goal: Showcase Edwards AFB’s “and the Aerospace Valley’s rich aerospace heritage, its deep roots in the aerospace developmental test, and the future of air and space testing.”
The message was clear based on the enthusiasm from a media roundtable including 412th Test Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Matthew Higer, Air Show coordinator Maj. Thomas Stuart, STEM Boss Helida Vanhoy, STEM Community Coordinator Diane Walker and Air Boss Marquette Moore.
The schedule of events runs from Oct. 5 through Oct. 10, including a four-day period of K-12 Virtual STEM activities and webinar for students, Edwards AFB videos, virtual presentations by the base’s aerospace partners and a STEMposium by the East Kern and AV STEM Network. Air demonstrations throughout the area will commence Oct. 9-10.
“I’m really fired up about taking the first air show at Edwards in 10 years by keeping it alive and not just on life support,” Higer said. “We have a unique opportunity in history to combine ... a whole lot of awesome tech, highlighting the Aerospace Valley and highlighting the Air Force ... not just the airplanes but the people.”
Combine that with tripling up on community, valley and installation contributions and “helping those in full-time virtual instruction,” Higer said it would be a first in Edwards history.
He noted the air component will still go on as scheduled.
“We’re still going to have jets in the air over Edwards,” Higer said. “They will not be doing any of the normal air show things, but flying routes. People can see and hear the airplanes, but also learn in a multipath environment on Friday and Saturday of the air show week.”
The air demonstrations themselves will conduct flyovers of Kern and AV communities on Oct. 9 and 10. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 9, the flyovers will include Palmdale, Lancaster, California City, Rosamond, Mojave, Tehachapi, Bakersfield and Boron.
From 11 a.m to 1 p.m. on Oct. 10, the community flyovers will include Hesperia, Apple Valley, Victorville, Barstow, Fort Irwin, Ridgecrest, China Lake, Rosamond, Lancaster and Palmdale.
Higer added Friday and Saturday will also include an expansive broadcast by Edwards leaders on what occurs in the skies over the Antelope Valley.
On the education front, from 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 5-8, STEM ZOOM webinars will provide an hour-each for elementary, middle school and high school students as well as Spanish-speaking K-12 students.
According to Vanhoy, the STEM boss, the webinars will align with California’s NextGEN and Common Core science education standards. More than 7,000 have signed up for the ZOOM webinars; total capacity maxes out at 10,000. To register, visit avair show.com. The STEM webinars are also available on the air show’s social media platforms.
“Keeping mind with career readiness goals, we also have career subject matter experts that will be presenting and sharing their experience,” Vanhoy said.
According to Stuart, the air show coordinator, an hour will also be dedicated to behind-the-scenes looks at the base.
“We are then going to work with industry partners to give insight into how STEM applies to not just the military context of aerospace but in the context of the entire aerospace industry,” Stuart said.
The last hour of each day from Oct. 5-8 will feature a STEMposium, a series of topics ranging from education to 3D printing technology and additive manufacturing in space. The event is partnered with the AV East Kern STEM Network.
Walker, the STEM Community Coordinator, said the event will help students “fuel their aspirations and really see themselves in these fields as they grow up.
She added local the exposure to the subjects will better benefit the region as a whole.
Presenters for the STEMposium will include industry partners such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Virgin Galactic and K-12 groups including the Mojave Junior/High School engineering and robotics club and the Palmdale High School Falcons Solar Racing Team.
“We are very happy to be a part of this,” Walker said.
Stuart called the air demonstrations “the capstone of the event.”
“This is an opportunity for us ... to bring the air show to the people in the same communities that we hope would have attended the air show normally,” Stuart said. “It’s also going to allow the students to tie in what they have been learning in the ‘classroom’ over the previous four days to what they see in the air.”
The air show will also be live-streamed to feature a sonic boom.
The event will also include a 360-degree virtual tour of aircraft to expose the community to the various platforms the Air Force pilots and ground crews use.
The aircraft flying will range from F-16s, F-18s to F-22s and the F-35 joint strike fighter, as well as a collection of B-1 and B-2 and B-52 bombers. Another line-up will include C-17, the KC-135 stratotanker, the KC-10 refueler and the newly minted KC-46 Pegasus.
Moore, Edwards AFB airfield operations director, called the air show unique in the industry in that it would broadcast it out to a wider community.
“Our goal is to inspire, recruit and for our students to be interested in any aviation or STEM program and to show appreciation to all of our industry partners that have helped our mission at Edwards,” Moore said.
The air show plans to return to Edwards in its traditional form in October 2022, lining up with the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force and the first supersonic flight.
For more information on the Antelope Valley Air show, visit http://avairshow.com.