I would like to set the record straight on the events that occurred during the Salute From the Shore event on July Fourth.
First, we share the disappointment of the Salute from the Shore organizers and Hilton Head Island spectators that our F-16s were not able to fly over all of the locations as originally planned. Unfortunately, small civilian aircraft in the airspace near Hilton Head prevented our F-16s from safely executing the flyover of the beach. Although air traffic control was very helpful in its efforts to help us avoid civilian aircraft, not all aircraft in the area were in contact with air traffic control, and many did not vacate the airspace.
When conducting an operation like this, the safety of civilians and the surrounding communities is our foremost concern. Therefore, the flight lead for the F-16 formation correctly decided that continuing the flyby near Hilton Head was too risky and discontinued the flight. Based on the circumstances, it was absolutely the right decision, and one I fully endorse.
You can expect that we will continue to strive to be good neighbors and positive role models by taking advantage of wonderful events like Salute from the Shore in the future. However, we always will do so while keeping our eye on our No. 1 priority, which is protecting our citizens and the freedoms that we all enjoy and celebrate, not only on Independence Day, but every day.
Col. Charlie "Tuna" Moore
20 Fighter Wing commander
Shaw Air Force Base