BLAZE Fest to celebrate Independence Day, UPT 50-year anniversary Published June 13, 2019 By Airman 1st Class Hannah Bean 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Get ready for food, fun and fireworks at the upcoming BLAZE Fest along Lockhart and Shumake Streets July 3 on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.The celebration will kick off at 4 p.m. filled with an assortment of food vendors, bouncy castles and mechanical rides for children, outdoor games and so much more. Food options include barbeque, burgers, kettle corn, homemade ice cream and snow cones to name a few. A kickball game of the Chiefs versus the Eagles will also help kick off the festivities, starting at 4 p.m. at the youth baseball fields on Lockhart and Shumake Streets.Style Entertainment will be providing live music starting at 6 p.m., and various contests will be held throughout the afternoon, including a ‘Most Patriotic Attire’ contest.“It’s important that we, as a military community, celebrate [Independence Day] and the sacrifices and challenges that we face as a military family,” said 1st Lt. Rachel Burmester, 14th Force Support Squadron Community Services Flight officer in charge. “These are the morale building events that foster that sense of family. It’s about providing an opportunity to connect and celebrate our independence.”The festival will also feature a fireworks show which will start at about 9 p.m. Burmester said the best place to enjoy the fireworks will be the fields bordered by Simler Avenue and Shumake Street. Once the event starts, people will be able to lay down blankets or set up chairs and watch fireworks.In addition to celebrating Independence Day, Columbus AFB will also be celebrating 50 years of Undergraduate Pilot Training.The first UPT class, class 71-01, entered training on July 17, 1969, with the class motto of “First of the Finest.” Class 71-01 led the way to modern pilot training on Columbus AFB. To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Columbus AFB has invited the original classmates of Class 71-01. They’ll have the opportunity to see how the base has grown and check out how training has evolved since they were student pilots. “As military members, our heritage makes us who we are,” said Jeremy Dunbar, 37th Flying Training Squadron executive officer. “We can’t forget where we came from. This continues to show that we are the world’s greatest Air Force. Though the aircraft, technology and the people involved continues to modernize and adjust to the training regimen, the idea, location and purpose that began it all hasn’t changed over the years.”Burmester said this will be a great opportunity to meet the pioneers of modern day pilot training, “because they shaped the legacy, culture and direction pilot training has progressed over the years.” Burmester said. “It’s going to be really cool to have them come out and see what Columbus AFB is doing in 2019 and see what all their hard work has gone towards.”As the event grows closer, more information will be provided and showcased.Burmester said she hopes this will be a good way for Airmen and their families to kick off the Fourth of July weekend.For those interested, keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities in the upcoming weeks.