McChord Rodeo corrals thousands to South Sound

Taking a $200 million plane out to drop stacks of cargo on randomly placed targets is all in days work for the incoming flight teams arriving at McChord Airforce Base.

These teams have come from around the world to prepare for the upcoming Air Mobility Command’s biannual Rodeo competition, which starts July 22 and runs through the end of the month. While not open to the public, the event hosts 2,500 competitors who make up 45 domestic and nine international teams.

While McChord’s 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings have joined to represent the local team, the rest of the competitors have been put up in hotels surrounding the area. That flood of pilots and crews into the South Sound means hotel rooms might be hard to come by for a few weeks. The event brings in millions of dollars in hotel room rentals, restaurant bills and rental car leases.

The competition is host to numerous other events, including air refueling, aerial ports, maintenance time trials and aeromedical evacuation drills over the skies of the South Sound.