‘Top Gun’ Comes to NJ — Power in the Pines Open House returns
🔴 The Power in the Pines Air & Space Open House is Saturday and Sunday
🔴 Admission and parking are free at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
🔴 It's the first public event at the Joint Base in five years
After five years, the Power in the Pines Air & Space Open House returns to the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Saturday and Sunday.
The McGuire, Route 68 and Langlois gates open at 9 a.m. each day for the free show which features daily demonstrations by the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team in the morning, the U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper demo team in the afternoon and the Warbird Thunder Airshow at lunchtime. The New Jersey Air National Guard and aerobatics will also take to the sky.
Friday is a rehearsal day for the air show so you could also look up and see some of the aircraft the day before.
Col. Wes Adams, the commander of the 87th Air Base wing at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, is among the most excited for the return of the roar of the jets and the chance to see close up the planes and personnel at the base which is New Jersey's second-largest employer with 55,000 people on the job daily.
Adams said a combination of the Afghan mission, which the base was heavily involved with, and COVID-19 pandemic conditions made it hard to open the base to the public. This year's show will make up for lost time, according to the commander.
"We're excited for this the first time in five years and I think there's going to be a big draw so power in the Pines '23! Let them roar," Adams told New Jersey 101.5.
Events and displays on the ground and in the sky
One of the highlights of the air shows will a flight spanning generations.
"There's going to be a heritage flight between the F-16 and one of the World War II aircraft, one of the Warbirds, where they kind of fly wing to wing. It's a great little moment," Adams said.
Adams said that besides the demonstrations in the sky there will be STEM activities for kids and the chance to see some of the aircraft that's housed at the Joint Base. For some the open house lifts the veil of mystery about what goes on at the base.
"I think the big thing is they think everything lives in a hangar-like Area 51. And it's super top secret. And that's just not the case," Adams said. "It's just a great chance for us to open the gates and say, 'Hey, come to our house. Let's show you what we do. What it means to be in the military today. And just share."
Among the aircraft on display based at the Joint Base are the Army's C-12 Huron, the Air Force's C-17 Globemaster III, which helped evacuate over 124,000 people from Afghanistan in 2021, and the New Jersey Air National Guard's KC-135 Stratotanker refueling plane.
Three gates into the Joint Base
Entrance to the base for the public is from two gates: the McGuire main gate via the Defense Access Highway the Wrightstown gate on Route 68 and the Langlois gate. Shuttle buses will take visitors from the free parking lots to the open house area. Adams suggested arriving as close to 9 a.m. when the gates open.
"We're expecting a lot of vehicle traffic. While it's going to be organized well on base for parking, I think the lines are going to be pretty long. So folks need to plan ahead and try to get there when gates open at nine even though the show won't start until 11," Adams said.
Being a highly secure military base there are some "do's and don'ts" while on the Joint Base. Weapons, pocket knives heavy chain link jewelry or belts,laser poiners, glass containers, coolers, pets, lawn chairs and alcohol cannot be brought in. Free water will be available and alcohol will be for sale.
One item is absolutely prohibited by federal law: marijuana.
"While the Garden State does have a particular stance on marijuana and its THC derivatives That is not the case for the federal property of the military base. We are the Joint Base, but we are not a joint base," Adams said.
Vapes and vape pens are also prohibited and will be confiscated.
Rain or Shine event
The weather for the Open House won’t be perfect but it will be far from a washout with temperatures in the 70s all weekend, according to New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.
“I think Sunday will be the better day. I do expect some damp weather on Saturday but the shower potential looks pretty limited overall. Sunday will be brighter, drier, and warmer,” Zarrow said.
The open house is rain or shine and any precipitation could mean the cancellation of an event.
"Weather restrictions apply to aircraft. So if they can't fly in those conditions, or we think that they can't perform the part of the show we've asked them to there are parts that may not take place," Adams said.
Even with cloud cover, Zarrow said it’s still important to bring the sunscreen and protect yourself while outside like you were at the beach as the UV index will still be at a medium level.