Beaufort Air Show to take flight Saturday morning

The bad weather that delayed the arrival of most of 2011 Beaufort Air Show's aerial acts and static displays Thursday made Merritt Field at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort an unexpectedly busy place Friday morning.

Beginning about 9:15 a.m., planes of all sizes began touching down at the air station, which will host its biennial air show this weekend.

"Planes were just landing one after another," said Master Sgt. Chad McMeen, air station spokesman. "Prop planes, civilian aircraft, fighter jets -- everyone was trying to get in here before the Blue Angels started practicing at 10 a.m. It was interesting to see the leading technology in military aircraft landing right after a vintage WWII plane."

The air station played host Friday to about 1,200 area students, veterans and VIPs invited by the base to watch the Blue Angels and the air show's other aerial acts practice their routines.

Months of planning spared air show organizers last-minute headaches as the base readied for the onslaught of spectators expected to pour through Fightertown's gates starting today, McMeen said.

Event organizers leaned heavily on air station Marines and sailors this week to prepare the base for the event.

From Monday through Friday, Navy Lt. j.g. Brian Mack and about 35 Marines and sailors pounded posts into the grass along the flightline and strung miles of bright-orange snow fencing to cordon off VIP chalets and other areas off-limits to spectators.

"All the work has been done by hand," said Mack, the air station's deputy public works officer. "The only equipment we've had out here have been a couple forklifts to move things around. We've probably put up about 2 1/2 miles of snow fencing. We're in charge of tearing down, too. That will start Sunday as soon as the show is over and continue into next week until we get it finished."