CHEYENNE – Following the cancellation of this year’s Cheyenne Frontier Days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cheyenne simply won’t be the same this July.

But at least one annual tradition – the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds air show – is scheduled to carry on.

The current plan is to hold the air show at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, which last year hosted the event for the first time since 1993.

As in previous years, the F-16s that make up the Thunderbirds fleet are tentatively slated to arrive in Cheyenne on a Monday – July 20 this year – then perform their full show Wednesday, July 22, though those dates could still change.

Cheyenne Regional Airport Director Tim Barth told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle that “we know (the show) is going to happen,” adding more details on the show will be available in coming weeks.

“We want to do this to make people feel good and be able to get out and enjoy a sense of community,” Barth said Friday.

Air Force Col. Brian Rico, military liaison to the CFD General Committee, said the organizers are exploring every option to ensure they can hold the air show this summer.

“This year might be a little different if we have to social-distance people,” Rico said. “It might end up being a sort of drive-in movie theatre type of show.”

While he didn’t want to spoil the surprise, Rico also hinted at the possibility of bringing in a few additional aircraft for the show, though plans have yet to be finalized.

The Thunderbirds, which have been coming to Cheyenne for shows since the 1950s, would offer a great chance for the community to come together, Barth said, especially after such a turbulent year so far.

“After everything this community has been through with COVID-19, and after what the nation has been through with George Floyd, Wyomingites have a very proud identity of their own, and they’ve always wanted to celebrate during the summer months,” Barth said.

“Our goal really as a community is to try to keep as much of that Cheyenne spirit alive as we can through the summer, while recognizing the hardships that we all went through.”

Wild West Air Show planned for September

While people in the region will likely still get a chance to see the Thunderbirds this summer, they’ll also have an opportunity to enjoy another air show later this year.

After hosting it in conjunction with CFD last year, Cheyenne Regional Airport and Wyoming Air National Guard are planning to host their second annual Wild West Air Show in September, allowing residents to enjoy the Guard aircraft on a stand-alone weekend.

This year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 11-13, with full air shows being held Saturday and Sunday. Barth said event organizers want to reach a younger crowd this year.

“On Friday, we are trying to make this a STEM-focused event for aviation, so we’re inviting all the high schools, the universities that have STEM programs, and people that are interested in engineering, mathematics and aviation, so we’re gonna have a bunch of educational opportunities for those folks,” Barth said.

Barth said the September air show will also try to incorporate other things to make the event “a community-wide celebration.”

Tom Coulter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at tcoulter@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @tomcoulter_.

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