EOD’s ‘Wall of Fire’ Impresses Crowd at NAF El Centro Air Show

Last Updated : 6/15/2011 11:45:19 AM

EL CENTRO, Calif. - Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 (EODMU 11) detachments from Fallon, Nev., and San Diego joined together March 12 to construct a pyrotechnics display for the crowd during the 2011 Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro Air Show in El Centro, Calif.

The two EOD units created three separate explosive acts including the "Wall of Fire," one of the main highlights of the air show.  This was the second year Sailors from EODMU 11 participated in the event.

"This is a culmination of months of planning, logistics, explosives and testing," said Senior Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD) Shawn Meyer.

According to Meyer, the first act was a simulated strafing run featuring a WWII-era Grumman F6F Hellcat, which resembled 22 mm rounds striking the ground.  The effect was constructed with two lines of detonation cord and 150 1-lb TNT [Trinitrotoluene)] blasting caps placed 10 feet apart for a total length of 1,500 feet.

Explosions were separated by a 42 millisecond delay.  At the end of the run, five bags filled with five gallons of a 50-50 diesel/gasoline fuel mixture were detonated for a larger explosion.

The second act was a bombing run that consisted of 40 bags of the 50-50 fuel mixture detonated in groups of five.  Bags were linked together with detonation cord and placed on top of 1-lb TNT blasting caps for maximum effect.  A Grumman F8F Bearcat flew over the explosions simulating the bomb drop.

A 1,500 foot "Wall of Fire" served as the final act of the EODMU 11 pyrotechnics display.  The wall was composed of 96 bags of the 50/50 fuel mixture with a cluster of five bags at the end.  All bags were wired together using detonation cord and a 1-lb blasting cap was placed under each of the 101 bags.  An F/A-18 Hornet from Strike Fighter Squadron 122 (VFA-122) flew over the explosion to complete the effect.

"Wall of fire is symbolic of a bombing run by a historic aircraft and we're just adding a little something extra for the crowd," said Meyer.  "We get a good throwing effect of the gas and diesel when it goes into the air."

Meyer said that safety is always of primary concern and all explosives were detonated from a distance of 1,250 feet from the blast site to ensure the safety of the crew as well as spectators.  All acts were detonated using hard wire and radio, with the final act using an old-fashioned TNT mine plunger.

"These guys really know what they are doing," said Rowdy Nixon, a fire inspector at NAF El Centro who was on site for the event.

The noise from the crowd after each explosion let the Sailors from EODMU 11 know that their display was a crowd pleaser.

"We always have a great reaction from the crowd," said Lt. Mark K. Anderson from EODMU 11. "Everyone loves it; they can feel the heat and hear the explosion."

Tagged : , ,