Ten years have passed since the S.C. National Guard last invited the public to visit.
This weekend, the Guard promises to put on a spectacular show to make up for lost time, said Maj. Brent Allen, an F-16 pilot in the S.C. Air Guard and the event coordinator.
"It'll be a blast," he said.
The South Carolina National Guard Air and Ground Expo will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at McEntire Joint National Guard Base. The base is about 18 miles east of downtown Columbia on U.S. 378.
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Air demonstrations begin at 11 a.m. both days.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the military clamped down on public events at its bases as a security precaution, Allen said.
Those attacks also created a busy schedule with various Guard units deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.
And the Air Guard has spent two straight years undergoing inspections from headquarters, Allen said. Preparation for those inspections is time consuming.
"The bottom line is we decided it's been way too long since we had a show," Allen said. "We've got a lot to celebrate."
The event includes demonstrations by the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, a Cobra helicopter precision aerobatics unit and F-16 demonstrations by a Shaw Air Force Base unit.
Visitors also will be able to view all kinds of military equipment, such as Bradley fighting vehicles and helicopters, on the ground. Vendors will be selling food and there will be an aviation-themed kids zone.
"We've got a lot of stuff on the ground for kids of all ages," Allen said.
The grand finale each day will feature an S.C. Air and Army Guard arms demonstration with airplanes, helicopters and armored vehicles.
Allen promises there will be loud, bright pyrotechnics.
"You've never seen anything like this," he said. "Trust me."