After getting passed over last Independence Day, Hilton Head Island beachgoers got their Fourth of July fly-over this year.
The Salute from the Shore III — a low-altitude cruise along the South Carolina coast by five F-16s from Shaw Air Force Base — arrived on time Wednesday, a welcomed sight for revelers.
Jack Wilfore, who lives in Hilton Head Plantation, said he planned to watch the fly-over from the beach but couldn’t find a parking spot. So he went to the Shelter Cove Community Park, which turned out to be a good vantage point. He snapped photos of the planes flying over the veterans memorial.
Last year, the celebration didn’t make it to Hilton Head because of air-traffic concerns. But this year, organizers said they took extra care to contact air-traffic control towers, airports and other agencies along the coast to ensure clear airspace.
“The pilots did an excellent job of being extremely proactive with all the different towers,” said John Michael Otis Jr., president of Salute from the Shore. Robert Brown, who watched the fly-over from his home in Port Royal Plantation, said he was glad it worked out this year.
“I was out on my deck once again (last year) waiting, and they never came,” Brown said.
“This year, it was fantastic.”
The jets were accompanied by World War II-era planes, including a C-47 that dropped paratroopers into Normandy, Otis said. Veterans went along for the ride on those planes.
Wilfore said he plans to add the fly-over as one of his regular Fourth of July activities, along with a neighborhood cookout.
That’s good news for Otis, who said he hopes to expand the fly-over.
“We want to continue to evolve and grow the event,” Otis said. “It could develop into an entire air parade.”
Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.