Friday, January 22, 2016

Attending MacDill’s AirFest in March? Here’s what you can’t bring on base

Planning to head to the Tampa Bay AirFest in March at MacDill Air Force Base?

Leave your guns and drones at home.

With MacDill set to open its gates March 19 and 20 for the air show, officials are reminding visitors of things not to bring on base, which is home to the commands running the wars in the Middle East.

The base posted the information on its Facebook page.

Nor are firearms are permitted, and concealed weapons permits are not honored on the base.

Visitors are also advised not to bring replica or toy weapons, stun guns (Tasers) or any other electrical discharge devices, knives, box cutters or any cutting device (including Swiss army knives), laser pointers, sharp objects, batons, pepper spray, mace or any chemical dispensing devices.

The base also prohibits fireworks, drones and any other radio-controlled device.

Because so many people received drones as gifts over the holiday season, base officials want to get the word out that just because it is an airshow, your Christmas or Hanukkah drone is not welcome.

And, of course, alcohol, drugs, controlled substances and drug paraphernalia are not allowed to pass through the gates.

No coolers are allowed, except for small hand-held coolers with baby food or medications, which will be subject to inspection. In fact, no food or glass containers can be brought in.

Bottled water is OK, which may come in handy because it is usually very warm.

Don’t even think about barbecuing — leave grills and other cooking devices at home.

No skateboards, roller blades, bicycles, scooters or hoverboards, either.

Banners, signs on any poles, and clothing with objectional language or images (profanity, racist, anti-military, anti-government and obscene) are strictly verboten.

No pets, please. Only service dogs are allowed.

For anyone thinking about leaving a pet in a car, base officials have a strong warning.


“We will break your window and save the animal,” said Terry Montrose, a spokesman for the 6th Air Mobility Wing, the base host unit.

Montrose also said that the base has not yet instituted a ban on licenses from from Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Washington as proof of identity. The ban was required as part of the REAL ID Act program, which calls for improved identification cards from states. However, while other military branches have instituted the change, the Air Force is still reviewing it and has yet to order installations like MacDill to take part.

This year’s AirFest, which coincides with the base’s 75th anniversary, will feature the Air Force Thunderbirds aerial performing team.

There will also be aerial performances by both military and civilian aviators and static aircraft will be displayed, including many of the Defense Department’s cargo, fighter and special purpose aircraft.

While the prohibitions may seem like common sense, a Tampa Tribune review of folks arrested at MacDill’s gates shows just how many people lack that.

Each day, about 15,000 people pass through MacDill’s four gates into the home of U.S. Central Command, which runs military operations in the Middle East, and U.S. Special Operations Command, synchronizing the global war on terror, as well as dozens of other mission partners.

But not everybody who shows up at the gates belongs there.

Some have been so drunk that they crashed into barriers, including one motorist who caused $60,000 in damage. Some have mental issues, including one man detained under the state’s Baker Act for threatening to kill President Barack Obama and the base guards unless he was allowed to get to his private plane so he could visit Al Capone.

And a number of people, despite all the signs, pull up with money in hand in the mistaken belief they have approached a toll booth.

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