To help

To assist with bringing a B-1 bomber event to Redmond, call Randy Povey at 541-548-6778.

Lodged between the more prominent Memorial Day and July 4, Flag Day could soon be aiming higher in Flag City USA.

The city is considering playing host to a flyover by a B1-B Lancer bomber on the holiday. After initially trying to get the event ready for June 14 of this year, it looks like it might have to wait until Flag Day 2020.

“That’ll give us time to do it and do it right, and get the word out,” said Redmond surveyor Randy Povey after a meeting with city officials and others interested in bringing the event to town.

The delay might turn out to be a blessing in disguise because of a March 28 Air Force announcement that the B-1 was being grounded because of concerns over its ejection system. The story came out hours after the City Hall discussion.

Povey helped Redmond gain its Flag City U.S.A. moniker. What started with drilling 180 holes in the sidewalk to welcome soldiers home from Operation Desert Storm in 1991 has grown to volunteers placing more than 2,000 flags along city streets during Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4, Labor Day, Sept. 11 and Veterans Day each year.

Congress awarded Redmond the Flag City USA name in 1999. The designation is now commemorated with a $550,000 monument, dedicated in 2016, near the intersection of Highway 97 and SW Highland and Glacier avenues.

Now, after talking with Karen Kowal of Redmond, the mother of Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Buschur, the Texas-based commander of the 28th Bomb Squadron, Povey is working on bringing the massive jet to Redmond, or at least the skies over it. The Redmond airport runway isn’t long enough for a landing.

Initial discussions looked at having the flyover buzz Sixth Street downtown, but it was determined that the Deschutes County fairgrounds would allow for a more wide-open viewing for more people. Povey looks to draw people from Bend, as well as surrounding counties.

“Thirty thousand (people) don’t seem too far off,” Povey said. He expects the event, which could include other activities, to have free admission, but some of that attendance number could still be watching from other locations.

The B-1, around 60 of which are in service between Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, and Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, South Dakota, has been in service for more than 30 years. The Air Force reported in 2018 that the planes, which are nearly 50 yards long and can fly faster than the speed of sound, had flown more than 12,000 attack missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria since 2001.

The B-1, nicknamed “The Bone,” carries a payload of more than 75,000 pounds of missiles, bombs and mines, according to the Air Force. During the Iraq War, the B1 flew fewer than 1 percent of combat missions, but dropped 43 percent of unguided bombs.

Look for a series of hair-raising flyovers during the Flag Day 2020 event.

Having the event in Redmond would bring the community together, said Kowal, who hopes to see her son take part either as a pilot or controlling the logistics of the flight.

“Knowing my son has worked for the military, what a proud day that would be for the community,” she said.

Seeing the plane is a moving experience, Kowal said.

“I would go out on the flight line and see him go out and come back in,” she said. “It was amazing.”

To make it happen, approval will be needed both from the higher-ups at the Air Force, as well as local officials. Povey said the fairgrounds is already on board.

The event will also need support from the city, though police Chief Dave Tarbet said events at the fairgrounds do not need event permits.

When the flyover does happen, Povey expects the sights and sounds to be something many have never witnessed.

“It sounds like this is gonna be overwhelming,” he said..

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmond