Setting the stage for this weekend's show at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst has been no small feat — not when 300,000 people are expected.
Preparations for the military base's free public Open House and Air Show started in November, when security forces began biweekly meetings to discuss crowd-control issues at the Burlington County facility. Seven parking areas have been designated, 30 shuttle buses have been readied, and security measures are in place.
On Friday night, 5,300 feet of barrier wall, 7,600 feet of stanchion rope, and 1,125 feet of snow fence will be installed, transforming an active runway into a mile-long air stage.
The Air Force Thunderbirds, Army Golden Knights, and Marine Air-Ground Task Force will perform, and 40 historic and current aircraft will be displayed during the event, to run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. An opening ceremony will be at 11 a.m. Saturday.
"One of our biggest challenges with an event of this magnitude is transportation," said Capt. Heather Boos, deployment and distribution flight commander of the 87th Logistics Readiness and Forces Support Squadrons. "We're preparing to help people get onto the base, to their parking spots, and onto the airfield to enjoy the show."
Hundreds of service members will help patrol the grounds and usher attendees to the flight line, while vendors will sell food and souvenirs.
The open house and show is the first since the Air Force, Army, and Navy installations were combined in 2009. Officials are holding the event to thank the community for supporting the base for 95 years. A highlight will be a Marine air-ground assault demonstration, which will rock the flight line with large explosions.
"We have well-trained defenders who specialize in keeping the community safe on a daily basis," said Master Sgt. Anthony Jones, superintendent of the 87th Security Forces Squadron police services.
Members of every military branch will be present to explain their roles as attendees get a firsthand look at the base's war-fighting capabilities.
"The biggest challenge is really bringing all of these little pieces together to make the big picture," said First Lt. Allen Vaughn, chief of operations support for the 87th Civil Engineer Squadron. "We want the picture to show how we can combine our assets with those of our local community and showcase the true joint base story, and we're on track to do just that."
For information, go to www.jbmdlopenhouse.com or contact the joint base public affairs office at 609-754-2104.