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Maxwell Beyond the Horizon Air and Space Show’ ends with record number of spectators

  • Published
  • By Philip Berube
  • Air University Public Affairs

The 2024 Maxwell Beyond the Horizon Air and Space Show is in the books, and by all accounts, it was more successful than any previous air show held at the central Alabama base.

That’s not surprising since it had been seven years since Maxwell’s last air show and judging by the estimated 200,000 spectators who either came through the gates or watched it live online, it was sorely missed by those yearning to hear “the sound of freedom.”

The 2017 air show drew an estimated in-person crowd of 135,000.

Headlining this year’s show, held April 6-7, 2024, were the U.S. Navy Blue Angels aerial demonstration team. This was the first time the Navy jets performed at a Maxwell show, and their performance added an exclamation point to the service’s Navy Week in Montgomery.

The Blue Angels started off air show week by giving teacher Catherine Kenny a hometown hero flight. Kenny, a 26-year educator within the community, helped develop a Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Connections in Education curriculum, which has impacted thousands of students since 2007. They also flew a local television news reporter on a separate flight.

Additionally, the Blue Angels, among other military performers, made special visits throughout the River Region community to inspire the next generation of aviators.

These visits ramped up the excitement leading into the weekend show.

The weekend started early on April 5 with a massive STEM Expo on base, taking up real estate in two hangars and a fitness center annex. The Expo exposed nearly 4,000 regional middle school through high school students to the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Expo continued through the weekend, adding that extra “something” that had never been done at this scale before at a Maxwell air show.

Along with the Blue Angels, other military performers drawing “oh’s” and “awe’s” from the crowd were the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team and U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, who treated the reigning Miss Alabama with a tandem jump on April 6.

Static displays across the airfield included several aircraft from World War II to present day. Visitors got up close and personal with fighters such as the P-51 Mustang, named “Tuskegee Airmen,” with its signature red tail, to the current red tail, a fifth generation F-35 Lightning II flown by the Alabama National Guard 187th Fighter Wing stationed in Montgomery, Ala. It also included the first of the Air Force Reserve 908th Airlift Wing’s MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters, a Maxwell mission partner.

The success of the air show would not have been possible without an “all-hands” effort by the men and women serving and working at Maxwell-Gunter and the support of surrounding communities, said Maxwell leadership.

While no final decision has been made, base officials hope to host another air show in two or three years.