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7 reasons to go to Luke Air Force Base air show

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Posted at 11:48 AM, Apr 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-02 13:32:00-04

Luke Air Force Base is celebrating "75 Years of Air Power" this weekend with its annual air show.

Whether or not you're a military aviation enthusiast, this year's show is something you would be crazy to miss out on. From the return of the incredible U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds to the historic F-35 Heritage Flight Team, you do not want to miss out on these shows. 

We've come up with 7 reasons why you must head out to Luke Air Force Base either Saturday or Sunday:

IT'S FREE!

Yes! You'll be able to visit Luke Air Force Base and see several high-speed and intense air demonstrations for free. It doesn't get much better than that. Oh wait--it does. The Thunderbirds are there.

IT'S IN YOUR BACKYARD!

Not only does Luke Air Force Base house the men and women serving our country (something that cannot be ignored), it's close enough to the Valley that makes the drive completely doable.

If you live in the West Valley (Surprise, Glendale, Goodyear or Avondale), you're looking at a 15 to 20 minute drive. From downtown Phoenix, you can get to the base in about 30 minutes. On the East side (Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Scottsdale), just under an hour will get you to the show. Like I said, no excuse.

AFB is expecting over 250,000 visitors this weekend. So, be patient and know that there will probably be some traffic one you get closer to the base. Check traffic conditions here.

THE U.S. AIR FORCE THUNDERBIRDS!

If you did not know, the Thunderbirds got their start at Luke Air Force Base. In fact, the team was activated on May 25, 1953. Back then it was called the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit.

Demonstrating perfect precision, the pilots perform a variety of in-air maneuvers that will have your jab open and yourself quickly grabbing the arm of the person next to you, whether you know them or not. Maneuvers such as the reflection pass, where two planes fly within feet of each other--one upright, the other UPSIDE DOWN--that it looks like a reflection of the other.

THE U.S. ARMY GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Referred to as "Champions of the Skies," the Golden Knights jump out of planes one by one for sport. They've performed in more than 16,000 shows and earn over 2,000 gold competitive gold medals.

THE F-35 HERITAGE FLIGHT TEAM

The F-35 Lighting II Heritage Flight Team is home-grown as its finest. It's based at Luke Air Force Base and the team just qualified to take their show on the road (and in the sky) on March 6.

Their first show? Right here at Luke AFB!

The Heritage Team displays the F-35 aircraft flying alongside planes from World War II, Korean War and Vietnam-era.

TORA! TORA! TORA!

Tora! Tora! Tora! is a live replication of the Japanese attack on Peal Harbor that happened on Dec. 7, 1941. The show is put on by the Commemorative Air Faces and began in 1972. The show is intended to be a memorial to soldiers on both sides who died. Three words: Wall of Fire.

THE OTHER SHOWS:

The Red Bull Demonstration Team, Jack Link's Screamin' Sasquatch, Alabama Boys and Desert Rats (CJ-6) will also have shows throughout the weekend.

Those who like to get an up and personal look, a bunch of planes will be around to view. Those on display include F-16, F-35, F-15, B-1, T-6. Some civilian planes will also be on display.

GETTING THERE: HOURS, TRAFFIC, PROHIBITED ITEMS

  • Gates open at 9 a.m. Aerial shows start at 11 a.m. Gates close at 5 p.m.
  • Getting into the event is FREE. Food, drinks, souvenirs will be available for purchase at the event.
  • Parking in lots A and B cost $10 CASH. Lot B will have a shuttle to the base.
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  • You will have to go through security to get on base.
  • Prohibited items: No outside food or drink, glass, alcohol, drugs, coolers, medical marijuana, firearms of any kind (including toys), bikes or skates or heelie shoes.

For a full-screen view, click here.