BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's been a long time coming. For the first time since 2011, the air show and open house returned to Keesler Air Force Base.
The skies were clear on Saturday, but there was plenty of thunder. And not just on the bay. But everywhere. Thousands of enthusiasts lined the air strip at Keesler Air Force Base to take in all that the open house and air show had to offer.
Modern and vintage aircraft, both on the ground and in the air, charmed the crowd as warm ups to the main event. For combat veteran Jason Little, it is important to remember the role the older aircraft played.
"It's just the great history of the airplanes and where they've brought us to today," said the Petal resident. "We wouldn't be here today if it weren't for these older airplanes flying around now."
But the Thunderbirds took center stage. The Thunderbirds last performed at Keesler in 2009, and Saturday's performance had visitors once again cheering on the Air Force's elite aerial demonstration team.
There were no bad seats along the Keesler Air Force base runway as the six F-16 Fighting Falcons, also known as Vipers, performed precise solo and group maneuvers.
For the Leblanc family, this event is an important family tradition.
"I feel that's very important to pass that down to my own children for what these men and women are fighting for, for our freedom and for this country," said Chris Leblanc of Walker, LA. "I want my children to realize how special it truly is. It's not just a bunch of people flying around and having a good time. There's more than that to it."
Jason Little agreed.
"We've all had friends and family get killed overseas to give us the rights that we have today to be here, especially on such a beautiful day."
Russell Byrd of McComb was impressed.
"I've been to them before," he said. "But it's been a while. It's been probably 15 years since I've been to one and, it's just inspirational."