Cleared for landing: Shaw welcomes local aviators

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The 20th Fighter Wing hosted the second annual General Aviation Fly-in, July 28.

Approximately 22 aircraft and 48 visitors landed onto the Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, flightline, to gain insight on the 20th FW mission and how it affects aviators on a daily basis.

“The fly-in not only helps to bolster community ties and foster community outreach, but more importantly it fosters flight safety,” said Capt. Kyle Bruton, 20th FW flight safety chief. “Specifically it (highlights) our midair collision avoidance system.”

Participating visitors had the chance to attend a mid-air collision avoidance briefing, view an F-16CM Fighting Falcon static display and watch an F-16 Viper Demonstration Team aerial practice.

“The main purpose of the (mid-air collision briefing) is to highlight that although we have all these tools available, there are still limitations,” said Bruton. “We need to work together and protect our shared U.S. airspace.”

The briefings and displays also provide civilian pilots with insight on what Shaw’s F-16 pilots do, and how they train to avoid mid-air mishaps, said Bruton.

The wing frequently reaches out to the general aviation community, in an effort to provide local aviators with the information needed to know when and where Shaw’s pilots are going to be flying, said Bruton.

“These are probably the best pilots in the United States,” said James Counts, Cessna 172 pilot and first time GAF attendee. “We learn very well from our local instructors, but these (Air Force pilots) are the highest quality instructors to possibly learn from.”

At the conclusion of the event local aviators departed the flightline with an increased knowledge of Shaw’s flying operations and how to properly react to, and prevent a mid-air mishap.

“I’ve always wanted to see a military base and have never had the opportunity to,” said Counts. “I appreciate the opportunity that the base gave to us (civilian) pilots.”