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Military jets return to Ruston Way this 4th of July

See flight demonstrations during Tacoma’s Freedom Fair and Air Show

The United States Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier Jump Jet is unique in that it can hover for periods of time and can land and take off vertically. Photo provided by Tacoma Freedom Fair

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It has been more than five years since the U.S. Armed Forces military aircraft have participated in Tacoma's 4th of July Freedom Fair and Air Show due to Sequestration. Three military aviation community outreach single ship demonstration teams from the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy are scheduled to appear in the 2019 event. The air show runs 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

These teams will allow the general public to see U.S. military air capabilities in action. There is also an opportunity to meet the service men and women who fly and maintain the equipment.

The United States Air Force returns with an F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration along with a Heritage Flight, a vintage World War 2 fighter. This year's Air Force Demonstration team reached a milestone having the Air Force's first female single ship demo pilot flying the F-16 Viper.

The United States Marine Corps is sending the AV-8B Harrier Jump Jet to perform a level three Tactical Demonstration. The Harrier is unique in that it can hover for periods of time and can land and take off vertically.

In addition to the Air Force, the United States Navy will be sending an F/A-18G from Whidbey Island to perform a Legacy Flight Demonstration. This demonstration entails several formation passes with vintage Naval aircraft showcasing the history and legacy of Naval aviation.

According to Doug Fratoni, air show director, "In the past the air show always had participation from the military, but that stopped in 2013 with Sequestration." He is looking forward to their return this year. "The military fighter jets and other aircraft bring a level of excitement and noise that can't be matched."

The demonstration teams come to events like the air show to connect with America by community outreach, to showcase American airpower and capabilities, and as a recruiting tool. "The vintage World War 2 fighter also showcases the history and heritage of military aviation," said Fratoni.    

Also scheduled to appear this year are the Erickson Aircraft Collection's F-4U Corsair and P-40 Kittyhawk, Vicky Benzing in the N3N Stearman biplane, Will Allen in the Pitts S2B, Greg Colyer in the T-33 Ace Maker II, Renny Price in a Sukhoi 29, the West Coast Ravens RV formation Team and the Cascade Warbirds.

This summer will mark the 41st Tacoma Freedom Fair which is the largest 4th of July celebration in the state of Washington. Located on the two miles of Puget Sound waterfront along Ruston Way, Freedom Fair has been recognized as one of the top 4th of July celebrations in the country. It features six music stages, multiple car shows, an International Food Marketplace, and Camp Patriot, which is dedicated to supporting our Armed Forces. More than 70,000 people are expected to attend.

The Tacoma Events Commission is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization and produces the Freedom Fair every year. For more information, contact: Gary W. Grape, executive director, at 253.507.9357,,

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