Friday, September 16, 2016

Miramar Air Show adopts tighter security

Organizers of the three-day Miramar Air Show are clamping down on security this year, canceling the Saturday twilight event and requiring large bags to be made of clear plastic.

The show -- hosted since 1953 by the Navy and then the Marines -- will still be held Friday through Sunday, Sept. 23 to 25, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Marine officials said cancellation of Saturday evening’s performances will help them avoid overextending security personnel during the show’s busiest day.

The tougher security is a response to terrorist attacks around the world and puts the air show, which is expected to attract 500,000 spectators over the three days, in line with security measures used by the National Football League, said Lt. Col. Scott Rooker, Miramar Marine Corps Air Station’s provost marshal, or police chief.

“Anybody who watches the news has seen what’s happened in France, we know what happened in San Bernardino and the things that happened in Chattanooga (Tennessee) with the Marine reserve center there. Because of that, we take security very, very seriously,” Rooker said.

“There’s no known, credible threat to anything at the air show,” he said. “But we want to take everything seriously, and make sure we are very focused on everyone having a safe and enjoyable show.”

Tighter precautions are a trend at military air shows, according to the president of the International Council of Air Shows.

“Everything I’ve seen indicates there is an increased level of security this year, as compared to the recent past,” said John Cudahy, council president, who said he saw metal detectors being used for the first time at two military air shows he attended this year.

“Nothing too dramatic or too much of an imposition,” he added. “I had not heard of another show that did clear bags.”

It’s an open question whether the cancellation of the Saturday twilight show will hurt attendance.

Rooker said he doesn’t think so, based on ticket sales so far for VIP seating. However, Cudahy said an attendance hit seems inevitable.

Visitors to Miramar for the air show will be allowed to bring a tote-bag-like carryall if it is made of clear plastic. They also can have one small handheld bag — what the Marines are calling a “clutch.” If the clutch is not see-through, it will be subject to further inspection.

The Marines are calling these requirements their “let’s be clear" policy. Photos of what’s considered acceptable, plus more details, are available at

Another change to entrance policy is that no coolers or ice chests will be permitted, although outside food can still be brought to the base — in the clear bags.

Also, people older than 18 will be required to show a photo I.D.

The following aspects haven’t changed: The show is still free, and it will feature the Navy’s Blue Angels elite flying team as well as the Navy’s Leap Frogs and the Army’s Golden Knights parachute teams.

Other scheduled performance highlights: The F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, the American military’s newest jet, will do a demonstration. So will the Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey. And an Air Force F-16 jet is expected to demonstrate its abilities. 

Marines from Miramar and Camp Pendleton will show off their everyday work with a display of the Marine Air Ground Task Force in action.

Civilian performers will include the Breitling L-39 Jet Team from Europe, on the second year of a two-year tour. The air show council’s Cudahy said that team offers more of an air “ballet,” compared to the high-adrenaline style of the Blue Angels.

Civilian Sean Tucker’s “Oracle Challenger” and the Shockwave Jet Truck also are scheduled to make appearances.

Nationally, air shows have basically recouped their attendance following a disastrous 2013, Cudahy said. That’s when deep federal budget cuts and a government shutdown spurred the Pentagon to cancel military outreach events, including the Miramar show.

This is the 70th anniversary of the Blue Angels, and the team is back at full strength after losing one of its members to a June 2 fatal crash during team practice in Tennessee.

The Navy on Thursday announced that the pilot, 32-year-old Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, was at error in the crash, with weather and pilot fatigue as contributing factors. The move that he was attempting before the crash, the “split S,” has been removed from the team’s lineup.

Cmdr. Frank Weisser has replaced Kuss as Blue Angels No. 6, the opposing lead solo pilot.

The Blue Angels squadron was established because Adm. Chester Nimitz wanted to keep naval aviation in the minds of Americans following the importance of Navy air power in winning World War II.

Headquartered in Pensacola, Fla., the team calls El Centro, about 110 miles from San Diego in the Imperial County desert, its winter home. The F/A-18s used in the aerial stunts are largely the same as the ones the Navy and Marines fly in combat.

Not everyone enjoys the display of U.S. military air power.

The San Diego chapter of Veterans For Peace has been protesting the Miramar Air Show since last fall. The group, with about 120 members, hopes to convince visitors to stop attending the annual event, with an eye toward eventually seeing it go away.

The group has been holding a weekly Thursday afternoon protest on the Carroll Canyon overpass of Interstate 15 for two months, said organizer Dave Patterson.

“We need to get people to think about ways to solve our problems other than using military force,” said Patterson, a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran. “And the Miramar show sells military force as a fun, exciting solution to our problems.”

Meanwhile, leaders of Miramar and its 3rd Marine Air Wing said they are proud to continue hosting what has been called the largest military air show in the country.


Gates open 8 a.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Major performances begin 9 a.m.
Blue Angels start at 3 p.m. and close out the show
General admission is free. Grandstand, box seat and “chalet” tickets are sold for varying prices.
Parking: Use North, East/Main or West gates
Security: Only clear plastic bags will be allowed, in addition to one small handheld “clutch” bag per person
ID: People over 18 must show a photo ID
No coolers or ice chests

For more information,

Let’s be CLEAR about Air Show Security



Be prepared to show a Photo ID to expedite your access into the Air Show
You can carry keys, makeup, feminine products, comb, phone, wallet, credit cards, etc. in their pockets if they choose not to put them in a clear bag or clutch.
You can carry binoculars and/or cameras around their neck or in their hands with or without the case.
One large clear bag per person is allowed
Either a one-gallon Ziploc style bag or a commercially purchased clear bag – plus a small clutch for personal items.
The larger clear bag must be a made of clear PVC vinyl and is easily searched.
The one-gallon Ziploc bag is readily available, inexpensive and easily searched. The small clutch allows privacy for small personal items and also is easily searched.
Unlike some event venues, we are not banning all bags. Small clutch purses, with or without a handle or strap, are permitted along with either the large clear bag or the one-gallon freezer bag.
Large traditional seat cushions that have pockets, zippers, compartments, or covers are not permitted. Clear seat cushions and seat pads without pockets, zippers, compartments, or covers are permitted
Diapers can be carried in a clear bag. Each member of a family, including children, would be allowed to carry an approved clear bag and a clutch purse on the flight line.
An exception will be made for medical necessary items after proper inspection at a specified lane at each gate designated for this purpose


In addition to the permitted/prohibited items listed above, here are some other prohibited items:

Bags, Purses, Totes, backpacks & other types of baggage other than bags conforming to the new Clear Bag Policy will not be permitted.
Weapons of any kind (regardless of permit) to include but not limited to: firearms, knives (including pocket knives and multi-tools), replica or toy weapons, pepper spray, mace, stun guns, and martial arts weapons
Outside Alcoholic beverages ( those not purchased at the Air Show)
Ice chests or coolers that are not medically required
Pets, other than service animals
Glass containers
Bicycles, roller skates, roller blades, (kick and electric) scooters, skateboards, or hover boards
No personal Drones (i.e. quad or hex copters) allowed to operate on Federal Property or airspace
Lasers or laser pointers
Federally banned substances such as illicit narcotics


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