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Thunderbirds delight crowd at Great Falls air show

us af thunderbirds great falls july 24 2022.jpg
Flight over the Falls
Flight over the Falls
Flight over the Falls
Flight over the Falls
Posted at 3:15 PM, Jul 23, 2022

"Flight Over The Falls," a military air show and open house, kicked off on Saturday in Great Falls, headlined by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team.

The entry-free event is at the Montana Air National Guard/Great Falls International Airport on Saturday, July 23, and Sunday, July 24, featuring aerial demonstrations both days.

The Thunderbirds performance on Saturday was delayed slightly - it was originally scheduled to begin between 2:15 p.m. and 3 p.m. - but the jets began their performance at 3:20 p.m., and conducted their aerial acrobatics for the next 32 minutes.

This is the first Thunderbirds show in Great Falls since 2017, with thousands of attendees watching performances along with static displays.

Among the attendees was U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana: "At Malmstrom, they do an amazing job stopping bad things from happening, the folks at MANG, you're never going to find a better unit than these guys, and they continue to be outstanding, whether it's a fighter group, or cargo group, and they continue to do just great work for this country, both domestically and in the foreign arena."

Lt. Col. Darren Damiani, commander of the Operational Medical Readiness Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base, served as the medical director for the event, and said, "This is a joint effort between the 120th Air Guard and the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom, so it's pretty important with the 75th anniverary of the Air Force. What's really neat about this show is it really highlights the jointness between the Guard and the active duty within Great Falls and Montana."

Sunday's performance began at 11:30 a.m.

Thunderbirds delight crowd at Great Falls air show

Also: dispelling a rumor that was making the rounds on social media - there was NO CRASH at the air show on Saturday. Several people who were not at the air show said they smoke near the airport. The smoke, however, was from a scheduled and controlled explosives demonstration.

Master Sgt. Devin Doskey of the Montana Air National Guard provided the following details:

Operating Hours

  • Parking will open at 8 a.m. in the south area and on 120AW property for civilians with an invitation
  • Gates to the Flight Line open at 9 a.m.
  • Opening Ceremonies at 10:15 a.m.
  • Air Acts end at 3 p.m.
  • Flight Line closes by 5 p.m.
Thunderbirds perform on Sunday, July 24, at 11:30 a.m.

Aviation Acts

  • F-18 Rhino Demo Team
  • Jelly Belly aerobatics
  • Third Strike Wing Walkers
  • A-26 Invader “Miss Kay” with Firewalkers Pyro
  • P-51 Mustang “Dakota Kid” with Firewalkers Pyro
  • Undaunted Airshows with Firewalkers Pyro
  • Ace Maker T-33 with Firewalkers Pyro
  • Brad Wursten Airshows MX-2
  • USAF Thunderbirds
USAF Thunderbirds in Great Falls (July 22, 2022)
USAF Thunderbirds in Great Falls (July 22, 2022)

Traffic Plan

  • Visitors arriving from Great Falls direction can access main parking via Gore Hill exit or travel to Ulm and take the frontage road to the parking area.
  • Visitors arriving from the Helena direction can access main parking via the Ulm frontage road.
  • After the show traffic will all route to Ulm until such time that local law enforcement deems that normal traffic flow will effectively move over the Gore Hill interchange
  • The Great Falls Ice Plex will be offering a Park and Ride option.
  • We are encouraging private organizations downtown to offer a similar service if they are able to help reduce traffic congestion
  • There will be no centralized shuttle service as in 2017
  • Law Enforcement will be in place to facilitate traffic flow
  • Estimating between 35,000 and 50,000 person crowd size for the weekend
  • Shuttle services will be provided from the main parking area to the security checkpoint and also on to the Flightline.

Safety

  • Event will be patrolled by a Multi-Agency law enforcement presence
  • First Aid will be available and staffed by members of the 341st and 120th Medical Groups
  • Emergency services will be available by our local healthcare agencies and Great Falls Emergency Services
  • Aviation safety will be supported by the FAA, Ralph Royce Airboss Services, and the 120th Operations Group