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Air Expo director focuses on safety, entertainment

Planning the event is quite the feat

Lt. Col. Ira Cline, Air Expo 2012 director, right, managed a $325,000 budget and coordinated the efforts of 42 staff members and more than 1,000 volunteers to prepare for the event. /Staff Sgt. Frances Kriss

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(62nd AW PA) - This year's Air Expo is being planned based on two priorities: safety and entertainment, according to Lt. Col. Ira Cline, 2012 Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Expo director. He has a bottom line though. He wants to share the insides of the joint base gates with the community members outside the gates.

"What I hope for in the end is that we get a lot of feedback from the community about their interaction with our Airmen and Soldiers," said Cline. "I hope they get a lot of insight into what our military is capable of and what our tax dollars are supporting."

As expo director, Cline is responsible for overseeing the two-day 350,000-spectator Open House event, managing a $325,000 budget, and coordinating the efforts of 42 staff members and more than 1,000 volunteers. He expects this year's event, which will take place July 21 and 22 at McChord Field, to be the largest ever. The lineup for the expo already includes more performers (20 are scheduled) and static displays (currently 50 confirmed) than ever before. The next goal for Cline is to ensure more people get to safely enjoy the entertainment.

"The one thing people need to know about this year's air show is that it is going to be very crowded," said Cline. "Leave early, the gates open at 8 a.m. Avoid congestion by coming early or taking the bus at one of our satellite parking locations around the local community."

While planning an air expo requires a lot of detail and extensive planning, Cline also admits there are some pretty good benefits to the job.

"The best thing about planning the air show is that you get to really reach out to the local community," said Cline. "You get to partner the Army and Air Force together and bring the best of both agencies to showcase to the community and say thank you to them for their support."

Cline has served in the Air Force for more than 18 years and has been stationed at McChord twice. His first assignment to McChord was from 2000 to 2004 and he returned to McChord in 2010. He is also a senior pilot with more than 3,200 flying hours in four different aircraft.

The Air Expo is Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22, and is free and open to the general public. Gates open at 8 a.m. and flying starts at 11 a.m. both days. Everyone 16 years and older, attending the Air Expo, will be required to have in their possession a picture ID for proof of identity.

For a full list of performers and static displays, visit the Air Expo's website at or look for "Joint Base Lewis McChord Air Expo 2012" on Facebook or Twitter.

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