July 05, 2023

Thanks to Col G Hall Sebren Jr

Colonel G Hall Sebren Jr is the commander of the 72nd Air Base Wing and of Tinker AFB as an installation. He and those responsible for the recent airshow there have given me an opportunity I didn't think I would ever live to see. At last year's Miramar Airshow, it took about an hour and a half to get off base, and I had assumed that I would never encounter a worse line at an airshow (or possibly anywhere). This time, it took about 2 hours to get into the show, thanks to a very slow security line. Col Selbren should be proud of himself for achieving this.

I cannot emphasize how much of a mess this was. The gate opened at 8, and I arrived just before 9. It was 11 before I got through. So in the first hour the gate was open, at least 3 hours worth of people accrued. And when I finally got there, I found three lines through screening, each of which had about a dozen airmen to do bag screening, but laid out so that only 3 or so of them were actually doing anything. They could easily have moved I had initially suspected that they might have just had much higher attendance than they'd planned for (I saw more marketing this year than 4 years ago, and they skipped two years ago because of COVID) but once we got inside, it seemed barely more busy than the 2019 show. I later found out that they hit capacity at 12:30, presumably based on the number of people already in line, which explains both the state inside and the state outside. That said, it's possible that Col Sebren or someone else high in the ranks of the airshow simply likes making people stand in line. That would also explain the poor handling of the lines for the planes on static display, too. Although they did have two E-3s open this year, the rate of flow through any open aircraft was far too slow. How about instead of having crew conversations inside the plane, have them outside, with someone inside just to move people along?

The line from halfway or so through

At this point, I feel like I need to apologize for all (alright, most) of the unkind things I have said about the US Marine Corps. At least they know how to run an airshow. I remember being slightly annoyed about the security line at Miramar, but it was 20-30 minutes, not 2 hours, and it generally felt that they had seriously grappled with the logistical challenges they faced, instead of setting up a completely inadequate screening program and producing the mess I saw there. If the US Military's foremost bureaucracy can't match the best efforts of the Marines, I'm not sure exactly what the point of even having the Air Force is.


  1. July 05, 2023Emilio said...

    Well, for the airshow for the 100th anniversary of the Italian Air Force they tried...

    I woke up at 0500 and got to the parkin at about 0700, waiting for the first shuttle bus.

    And I was able to board the very first one, but they told me that the line got longer and longer and longer.

    When it was time to get back at about 1900 I got to the boarding point for the returning shuttle, but...

    The nearby town had not properly closed the access roads to the Pratica di Mare AFB, so people had seeped in, and parked ad mentula canis, blocking the shuttle buses.

    After a couple of hours the IAF was able to find alternate routes, so the shuttles were able to arrive, at about 2 minute interval.

    The funny fact is that the airport was brimming with Carabinieri brassards, and if they had a few towing truck the Carabinieri had the authority to have all the mis-parked cars inside the AB (IT'S HUGE!), and then let the owners walk home...

  2. July 09, 2023EdH said...

    I worked at Edwards AFB for a couple of decades as a contract engineer, security was always loose and abusive, getting worse as the years went on.

    I knew an AF engineer in flight test and asked him about it. He said that the head of security post was filled by a colonel, and the occupant rotated out every two years. The new guy had to differentiate himself somehow for his personnel folder and the easiest target was changing the rules regulating the civilian work force, since effing with the ranks annoyed the other officers.

    It got to the point where they were doing car searches of every vehicle every month. The 5,000 or so commuting civilian workers sat for hours in their cars in the 100F+ sun waiting.

    Hot, because this delay impacted base operations if they did it in the morning, so they made a point of doing it in the late afternoon as people were leaving…

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