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Tampa, Florida -- We've waited a long time for this.

Last year, budget cuts killed the huge AirFest air show at MacDill Air Force Base. And there was no show in 2012, either.

But it's coming back in just six weeks. Planners met at the base Tuesday to put the finishing touches on the 2014 show.

The chance to climb into one of MacDill's signature jets will be just one of dozens of displays and shows -- including the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds -- that will fill the base in South Tampa the weekend of March 22nd.

With no AirFest since 2011, Tampa Bay has missed out on the Thunderbirds and free family fun for 150,000 people.

"It's an opportunity to open the base up and show what we do out here at MacDill," base commander Col. Scott DeThomas told 10 News.

"For so many folks, they don't really know what's going on at the end of Dale Mabry."

The base's commander says this new AirFest will be just as big as years past -- but done on a budget dropped by 25 percent, under orders from the Department of Defense. How will they make that work?

"For the first time in Tampa Bay's history, we're actually reaching out to the community to help support some of those acts, help support some of those expenses," DeThomas said.

Companies and groups from all over Tampa Bay are stepping up behind the scenes to offer services and products for free, making it possible to put on an air show that costs taxpayers less but still feels full-throttle.

"They basically said, 'What do you need?' And we provided basically a wish list of things," DeThomas said.

"And they said, 'Hey, you know what? We can help pay for some of that. We have vendors that own some of those things that you're looking for.'"

The base's staff says it's so serious about teaming up with the community on this, they've even renamed the event.

MacDill AirFest is now "MacDill presents Tampa Bay AirFest."

The event's held on Saturday, March 22nd and Sunday, March 23rd, with performances by the Thunderbirds on both days.

To find out all of the information that's been released so far about the event, visit the Tampa Bay AirFest Facebook page.

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