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COLUMBIA - Aircraft and pilots met at Columbia Regional Airport Friday to prepare for the 30th annual "Salute to Veterans" air show. 

The Memorial Day weekend event began with a Media Day; a day for press and citizens to come out and watch as pilots and crews practiced their routines. 

This year, the air show will be hosting the US Air Force Wings of Blue Skydiving Team for the first time. 

"We're really excited to welcome them to Columbia. They are the US Air Force Academy Team," Media Chair Jessica Houston said. "It's pretty neat. We've actually got a couple honored guests that have history with that team."

Some of the other main attractions for the weekend include the returning A-10 Thunderbolt Demonstration, after 8 years, as well as the Black Daggers Parachute team. 

Black Daggers team member Zach Krietenstein said they plan to perform CRW (Canopy Relative Work), as well as a bomb burst. 

"We'll get all the people in a circle, with smokes going so you can see us from the sky, and then we'll separate," he said. "At first, it'll like just one stream of smoke and then we'll separate and it'll go different ways."

Houston said teams are chosen at the mercy of the military. She said there are a lot of factors that go into allowing the teams to attend. 

"It's based on a lot of different things: what other air shows are they performing at, that maybe are in that area?" she said. "What's the recruiting potential? That kind of stuff."

Houston said because there is so much work that goes into it, she is already planning for next year's show.

"There's a lot of moving pieces that go into actually getting an aircraft or a team out here."

For more information about the demonstrations and events planned for this weekend, you can visit www.salute.org.

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