Jets soar during Shaw Air Expo
Captain Blaine Jones, Thunderbird 6, Opposing Solo, demonstrates the tight turning capability of the F-16 Fighting Falcon with the Maximum 360 Turn during the Shaw Air Expo at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 6, 2012.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)
by Staff Sgt. Mylinda DuRousseau
Third Army/ARCENT Public Affairs
5/9/2012 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Thousands of people spent the weekend looking to the skies as jets soared and parachutists jumped over Shaw Air Force Base, S.C, May 5 and 6.
The 2012 Shaw Air Expo showcased some of the military's most capable and well-known performers giving Airmen, Soldiers and the community an opportunity to experience precision-based performances of the highest caliber.
When guests weren't looking towards the skies, they also had the opportunity to view a variety of static displayed aircraft and ground vehicles of the Army and Air Force as well as associated weaponry.
Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Perry, a flight engineer in the South Carolina National Guard, spent the day on a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, answered questions from guests and described how Soldiers use a Chinook to provide necessary supplies for mission readiness.
"The kids had a lot of questions based on video games they play," said Perry.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Conklin, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron armament shop weapons crew chief, manned an F-16 M61A1 20 mm Gatling gun display during the expo.
"We wanted to show people how this weapon works in the F-16s," said Conklin. "I believe everyone enjoyed the display because it's very interactive."
Third Army/ARCENT coordinated to provide equipment currently used by Soldiers in combat to help guests see different facets of the military such as a M1A1 Abrams tank.
"They're great, real kid-friendly and very knowledgeable about the aircrafts too," said Natalie Harrelson of Columbia, S.C.
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performed for audiences during the expo, demonstrating aerial precision and tactical maneuvers.
"This was the first time I've seen the Thunderbirds in more than 20 years," said Harold Billings, a retired Air Force senior master sergeant and now native of Greenville, S.C. "They were by far my favorite part of the show."
During the expo, the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team showcased the pin-point accuracy of their air-to-ground landing capabilities during the expo.
"(My son) really liked the skydiving, he waited a long time for that," said Andrea Clutts. Her son Sam's grandfather served in the Air Force and was stationed at Shaw AFB.
Clothing, food and drink vendors were made available during the expo.
"I volunteered to man this display and had a great time," said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Brunson, 169th Fighter Wing, from Joint National Guard Base McEntire, S.C., who manned a chicken fingers and fries booth at the expo. "I felt it was important because it provides a needed service for those who attend the show, and also provides fund raising opportunities."
Diane Cooney, co-owner of Flight Line America, a private-label entity that designs exclusive gear for the Thunderbirds, said she's proud to serve and participate in the Shaw Air Expo.
"We're here to showcase the team and what they stand for," said Cooney. "Their mission is to inspire the youth of America to join the Armed Forces whether that be the Air Force, Army, Navy or Marines."
With 18 different performers, numerous ground displays, vendors and a kid's zone with inflatable slides and other attractions, there was plenty to keep everyone busy throughout the expo.
"The weather was great," exclaimed Rich Darlington of Columbia, S.C. "We enjoyed the vendors, everything was clean and the show was great. I really enjoyed it."