Wings Over Wayne 2023, an air show tradition

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rebecca Sirimarco-Lang
  • 4th Fighter Wing

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. – This summer, Wings Over Wayne Air Show is back for the first time since 2019.

Air shows originated in the early 20th century, when pilots and aviation enthusiasts gathered to showcase the capabilities of aircraft potential. Air shows are now a way of giving back to the local community through education and entertainment. The history of aviation and air shows run parallel to each other with air shows growing in size and spectacle as aviation technology advanced.

The first major international air show was in 1909 in France, just three years after the Wright Brothers’ historic flight at Kitty Hawk. The air show was a weeklong event known as “Grand Semaine d’Aviation de la Champagne”, or the Reims Aviation Meeting. Aviators competed during challenge events that included timed course races, passenger carrying competitions and airborne endurance events. Regardless of the weather conditions, the show would go on.

The success of the first air show led to the widespread popularity of these events, and they soon spread across Europe and the United States.

Following World War I, pilots began performing in traveling air shows, also known as circuses. This not only helped develop aviation after the war, but gave brave and battle-tested war pilots a means of keeping their skills sharp by offering them more flight hours.

At these shows they had very little rules and regulations, so many dangerous acts were performed, which included flying through barns, aerobatics, wing walkers, and even tying aircraft together with cords and climbing from one plane to another.

As aviation evolved throughout the years, air shows have grown in size, number, speed and technology, drawing in spectators to witness of the evolving air power.

“We are going to feature a combined arms demonstration, which is going to have F-15E Strike Eagles, A-10 Thunderbolts, F-16 Fighting Falcons, parachute jumpers and a C-130 Hercules, as well as some Joint Tactical Ground Stations,” said Maj. Sean Hoefer, 333rd Fighter Squadron director of staff.

Wings Over Wayne is scheduled to have aircraft static displays, a STEM hanger and aerial demonstrations from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the U.S. Air Force F-22 Demo Team, and many other acts.

“We are going STEM out here. They’re going to bring some battle bots and some drones,” said Senior Master Sgt. Dustin Dunleavy, 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron maintenance superintendent. “We’ll also have a few different simulators and virtual reality training excises.”

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base will open its gates to the community for this year’s Wings Over Wayne Air Show on May 20 and 21, 2023. For more information visit the Wings Over Wayne Air Show at

“I’m excited to have you come on out to our air show May 20 and 21,” said Maj. Nathan Johnson, 334th Fighter Squadron air show director.