Aviation heritage connects military, community during WOW 2023

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Team Seymour hosted the Wings Over Wayne Air Show and Science and Technology Expo May 20-21, 2023, here. 

The air show returned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, after a five-year hiatus.

This year's theme "First in Flight, First to Fight," honored North Carolina's and the 4th Fighter Wing's contributions to aviation history.

“Today we welcome our community and celebrate the brave men and women who serve in the armed forces, and their unwavering commitment to this community,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Lucas Teel, 4th FW commander, during the event’s opening ceremony. “We also recognize the important role our civilian partners from Goldsboro, Wayne County, surrounding communities and the state of North Carolina play in supporting our Airmen and our mission. We cannot do what we do without them.”

Attendees were able to watch and experience a variety of aerial demonstrations during the show including acts performed by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team.

“It is a privilege for our entire team to be able to perform for the spectators and fans around the country at each air show,” said U.S. Navy Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Paul Archer, Blue Angels Public Affairs Production leading chief petty officer. “It is truly humbling to be able to represent our fellow service members and the very best of Naval aviation. We sincerely hope that whether this is the first, second, or 77th year you have seen us fly, the sight and sound of a Blue Angels performance delivers exhilaration, pride in your defense forces, appreciation for teamwork, and the inspiration to achieve excellence!”

In addition to air demos, attendees had the opportunity to tour more than 40 aircraft static displays, and experience this year’s STEM Hangar, a first-ever at Wings Over Wayne, which included more than 50 exhibitors including G-Force Robotics, an all-girl high school robotics competition team.

“We are offering something for everyone,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shannon Mann, Wings Over Wayne STEM hangar director. “Our goal and mission during this is to educate the public on the importance of science, technology, engineering and math. We looked at all the different angles of how STEM can be employed and we wanted to bring that to the masses out here throughout the weekend. It’s been a phenomenal success and I hope it’s something we can do in the future.”

Spectators from across the country attended this year’s event and for many, it was an experience they won’t soon forget.

“It’s been fantastic, my whole group is enjoying it,” said Lauren Llewellyn, Wings Over Wayne spectator. “I’ve been around for some of the exhibits and saw the different kinds of planes … I didn’t know we had so many different kinds. I hope this helps people gain more appreciation for their military after this.”

Wings Over Wayne provided an opportunity for North Carolina residents and visitors from around the world to see how SJAFB builds to the future of airpower and displays a history of aircraft innovation and capabilities.