The crowds came for many reasons Saturday to McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover.
A group of 35 Junior Air Force ROTC students from Berea High School in Greenville - all wearing gray Air Force T-shirts - came to consider their possible future careers.
Amanda and Patrick McCullough of Irmo brought their 16-month-old son, Zachary, to see the planes - something he loves to watch flying over his home.
And Cheryl Harris of Hopkins wanted her family to learn about the work and sacrifices the military makes for this country.
They were among the thousands who turned out to see the first air show at the base in more than 10 years.
And there was plenty to see.
From the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachuting in with the American flag to Army National Guard Black Hawk and Apache helicopter demonstrations and F-16 flyovers, the skies were filled with the sounds of aircraft. And the ground was filled with sounds of ooohs and ahhs.
"You want your children to learn about what these guys do to keep our country safe. Hearing about it is one thing, but seeing it is something else," said Cheryl Harris, who was at the show with her husband, Robert, and their children Megan, 16, Chandel, 10, Robert Jordan, 8, and 6-year-old Evani.
They were standing on the asphalt surrounded by planes large and small. Chandel started clapping as the helicopter toting a Hummer jeep flew by.
Over the loudspeaker, an announcer was telling the crowd to get cameras ready as a vintage Thunderbird T-33 came by flying sideways - always a great photo, she said. At 370 mph, the plane that was built in 1958 whizzed by, doing a triple roll in front of the crowd.
Children were climbing into the cockpit of a VIP support helicopter that flew to McEntire from Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.
"Some of them are scared; some of them are excited," the pilot, Capt. Jared Hann, said of the children who scampered for a chance to sit behind the wheel, as parents pulled out their cameras. "I know I get excited every time I see a helicopter."
Members of the F-16 Viper East Demo Team from Shaw Air Force Base were grabbing a little shade before their afternoon show. From March through November, the aerial demonstration team performs in air shows three weekends a month.
"It's a very cool job to be able to show the public what the Air Force does on a daily basis," said Master Sgt. Bryan Spangler, the team chief.
"We get to show 50 years of the Air Force. It's pretty neat," said Tech Sgt. John Coleman.
And how does the public react to the group's maneuvers in the single-seat jets? "It's jaw-dropping," Spangler said.
There will be more of it today, as the gates open at McEntire at 9 a.m. for the free show, which runs until 4 p.m.