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DM Airshow—A Visitor's Guide

Advice for a smooth visit
Posted at 7:25 PM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-21 22:25:01-04

DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. -Some special guests made a flashy entrance into Tucson Thursday. The US Air Force Thunderbirds arrived to prep for this weekend’s big air show at Davis Monthan.

The D-M Airshow qualifies as the biggest event in Southern Arizona with 200 thousand visitors expected for its Saturday and Sunday performances. You may want to be one of them so here is a visitors guide.

Craycroft and Swan gates will open to the public at 9 am Saturday and Sunday. It’s a rare opportunity for civilians to visit the base but there are things to remember to have a safe, enjoyable visit.

When the Air Force Thunderbirds arrive the impressive display is not to show off. They are getting used to the base and the airspace, preparing to perform a smooth but still spectacular show.

Major Whit Collins flies Thunderbird 4. His assignment puts him right behind the flight leader flying frighteningly close—-just not frightening to him.

“It can be anywhere from three feet down to 18 inches. We don’t start out that way. Early in the training season we start out very high in altitude, very far apart and then we work it in as training and trust allows, to where we are right now.”

The Thunderbirds may be the most conspicuous guests but you and your neighbors can be the guests at Davis-Monthan too. The Air Force expects about 200 thousand visitors for Saturday and Sunday combined to see a wide variety of aircraft in the air, and on the ground.

Keeping everyone’s visit smooth and safe is up to air show coordinator Major Leeroy Schultz.

He says be prepared to go through security.

“There’s going to be metal detectors there once you get to entrance after you’ve parked. You’ll have some signs pointing you towards the entrance. Bring some comfortable shoes. It’s a beautiful open space as you can see here with a lot of sun so bring some sunscreen and yeah, just come out and be ready to enjoy a day.”

Here’s a partial list of items you must not bring in:

No backpacks, or large bags. (See-through bags are OK)

No coolers or camelbacks.

No bikes, scooters, skateboards or those shoes with skate wheels.

No drones.

You can find the full list in this companion story on, at the website for Thunder and Lightning over Arizona, or on Davis Monthan phone apps for IPhone or android.

Again, gates open at 9am. Thunderbirds will close the show in mid afternoon.

There’s a big variety of acts including the A-10 and the F-22 but they don’t set precise times because maintenance issues or weather can alter the schedule.