An estimated 240,000 people saw the show. An
estimated crowd of nearly 240,000 people gazed skyward last
weekend — in awe of the many aerobatic stunts and fast-moving
aircraft racing overhead during the Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Air Expo 2010.
aviation extravaganza brought droves of civilian and military
families to McChord Field to see demonstrations of jet fighters,
helicopters, vintage and modern aerobatic aircraft as well as
static displays of NASA, Army, Marine, Navy, Air Force and
foreign military aircraft and vehicles. Canadian Air Force
CH-124 “Sea King” helicopter crew chief Sergeant Jon Volf said
being part of the Air Expo was a memorable experience.
“We’ve had a
good time,” Volf said. “Everyone has treated us really well.”
The chance to be around so many different types of aircraft and
U.S. forces is unbeatable, he said. The anti-submarine
helicopter was open for visitors to walk through, and Volf was
on hand to answer questions.“It’s nice to come here and show off
our equipment,” Volf said.
Prior to the
kickoff of aerial demonstrations, nearly 200 Air Force
Delayed-Entry-Program recruits gathered near the control tower
to be sworn into the service by 62nd Airlift Wing Commander Col.
Kevin Kilb.“It’s wonderful to see them all out here,” Kilb said.
“They are the future of our Air Force — our country.” It is
admirable for young people to volunteer to serve and make a
conscious effort to better themselves, he said.
Kilb said he
looked forward to the Air Expo performances and was glad to see
the large crowd at McChord Field.“It’s looking great,” Kilb
said. “They’ve got a good show in store.”One recruit, Melanie
Porterfield, 17, who attends Onalaska High School, south of
Olympia, said being a part of the mass swearing-in was a good
experience.“It’s pretty cool,” Porterfield said.
“There are a lot
more people than I thought there would be.”Major Chris Kirk of
the 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment,
said crew members had a good time while having one of the elite
unit’s MH-47 Chinooks on display.“It feels good to bring the
aircraft out and to tell people about what we do,” Kirk said.
Though many of the unit’s missions are too sensitive to
publicize, visitors were mainly curious about the aircraft and
its armament, he said.
pushed back the start time until 12:30 but the wait was
worthwhile when the opening act, a simulated airfield assault,
started the dramatic show.
fireball exploded hundreds of feet into the air as two A-10s
made a “strafing” pass over the simulated enemy. A UH-1N Huey
helicopter flew a team of forward air controllers into the
airfield as an AH-1G Cobra gunship provided cover. A flight of
three C-17 Globemaster aircraft flew over the airfield, dropping
cargo and 16 paratroopers in the simulated assault.
I Corps Command
Sgt. Maj. Frank Grippe was the first one out the door, hitting
the ground safely, flanked by Rangers from 2nd Battalion, 75th
Ranger Regiment. As the sun burned off the cloud cover,
spectators watched demonstrations by pilots of biplanes, vintage
jet fighters and World War II aircraft.
applause, Smoke-n-Thunder Jet Car racer Tim Weber obviously
thrilled the crowd in his GEICO Extra stunt plane. A special
treat for July 17 visitors was the flyover of a B-2 Spirit
stealth bomber. Miss Mill Creek, Lele Tian, said she had never
before seen anything like the aerial demonstrations. “I can’t
believe they can fly like that,” Tian said. The Patriot Jets
aerobatic team closed the show on both days with its
death-defying maneuvers and high-speed passes. All four of the
jets formed up for a low-level pass through a wall of flame that
elicited gasps from the crowd.