Gulf Coast Salute 2004

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Thousands of eyes will be scanning local skies this weekend. The annual Gulf Coast Salute at Tyndall Air Force Base was set to get off the ground Saturday.

Thousands of eyes were scanning local skies this weekend. This year's salute pays tribute to all of the military's branches. All five will be represented with the Navy's Blue Angels headlining the event.

"We've invited the Navy's Blue Angels, and we also have the U.S. Coast Guard rescue team. We have F-15s of course from the Air Force, with a couple of others like the F/A 22 Raptor fly-by, and the Army represented by the Black Daggers," Major Joel Carey says.

The next two days may be your only chance to catch an up-close glimpse of all of the military's branches in action together. The Gulf Coast Salute kicked off Saturday at 8 a.m., but planes were already on display Friday for the families of military men and women.

As the Army, Navy, Marines, and U.S. Coast Guard descended upon the Air Force base the typical rivalry among the branches seemed to dissolve.

"When we're at war we're all one team, so when we come back here it's fun to give each other a hard time and joke, but when it comes down to actually doing our job we're all really on the same team despite what we talk about when we're on the ground," Captain Brian Laidlaw says.

And on the ground is where you will find most of the action. You can explore old and new fighter planes, and even take a simulated ride in an F-16. Organizers say it’s the military's way of saying thank you for all your support.

"Day in and day out everybody out here is incredibly proud for what they do, but we don't do that alone. It's part of the support we get from the local community. We wanted to open our doors, and show a little bit about what we do," Major Carey says.

The Gulf Coast Salute is free and open to the public. Gates open at 8 a.m. in the morning and close at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.