In early May 2017, McEntire Joint National Guard Base hosted the South Carolina Guard Air & Ground Expo. Jointly put on by both the South Carolina Army and Air National Guard units at the field, the 2017 Expo broke an eight-year hiatus of airshows at McEntire in a big way. They featured a rock-solid lineup of highly sought-after airshow performers, both military and civilian.

Fast jet performances consisted of the US Air Force’s F-22 Raptor demo team, US Navy F/A-18C Hornets, and Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets. Also flying were notable civilian performers.  Jim Tobul in the F4U-4 Corsair, Matt Younkin in the Twin Beech, and the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team and their T-6s. And there were many more.

“We are going to blow stuff up, so you’ll want to be here.” MG Livingston briefs the media in advance of the SC Guard Expo.

The headlining act was the most intense act of the South Carolina Guard Air & Ground Expo. The unique and heart-pounding homegrown Combined Arms Demonstration, with both Army and Air National Guard assets simulating an assault on a hostile location. Six F-16s, two AH-64 Apaches, and a UH-60 Blackhawk took to the air while M1A1 Abrams and M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and their troops helped eliminate the ground threats.

While the F-16s were letting loose flares during simulated strafing and bombing runs, the Apaches provided even closer air support for the troops on the ground. The Apaches followed the troops as they advanced toward the crowd line, providing an up close and personal look at both men and machine.

Once the advance was complete and the hostile location neutralized, a massive wall of fire served as the grand finale, a fitting end to the action-packed show.

Many thanks to the South Carolina Army National Guard and the 169th Fighter Wing for putting on a fantastic event.

We’re happy to share our favorite images from the SC Guard Air & Ground Expo, and sincerely hope that there won’t be another eight-year wait for the next show at McEntire!

The 2017 SC Guard Air & Ground Expo Photo Gallery

Between the F-22, F-35B, and T-50, Lockheed Martin was well represented at the SC Guard Expo. The T-50A is the manufacturer’s entrant in the USAF’s T-X competition.

(Photos by Curt Jans and Jonathan Derden)

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About Author

Jonathan is a graduate of the Jacksonville University aviation program and holds an Airline Transport Pilot rating, with almost 7000 hours and 10 years of experience as flight crew for an FAA Part 121 air carrier, currently flying as a captain for an east-coast based airline. His work has been featured in numerous publications and while his photographic pursuits have taken him around the world, he calls Virginia home along with his wife, son, and two dogs.

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