WyANG airshow draws thousands

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Rusty Ridley
  • 153rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
An estimated 10,000 spectators attended the 2011 Air Power Airshow at the Wyo. Air National Guard Base, Cheyenne Regional Airport July 27.

People from around the country, and around the world, came to see the Thunderbirds, a variety of aerial demonstrations and static displays showcasing historical and current aircraft.

Phil and Kathy Joubert came from Whitman, Mass., just outside of Boston. "This is great," said Phil. "It's ideal, it's easy, it's nice and brings me back to my youth." Phil was stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base from 1959 to 1960 and last year came back to Cheyenne for the first time since being stationed in Wyoming. "We just love it out here," he said.

Keith Hampton and Mike Zherdev, of Ft. Collins, Colo., work together. It was Keith's first time at the airshow. "Seeing the variety is great," Hampton said. "It's such a nice day." Zherdev, originally from Russia, is no stranger to aviation. He is a professional pilot and flight instructor and aviation enthusiast. "Your airshow is always a nice experience. A must see. This is something unique," he said. "You've done a great job. Just give me the keys to the planes."

Jim Peloquin, originally from Chicago, Ill., and now living outside of Ft. Collins, Colo., is a Vietnam veteran. The atmosphere reminds him of his service and being around F-4s. "I always come and see this," he said. "I gotta see the Thunderbirds. The noise and the afterburners. Amazing."

Others make the show come alive. They are the performers. Retired Col. Jack Wilhite has been flying most of his life. With 227 combat missions in Vietnam and service in World War II, Korea, and a retired United Airlines captain, it's hard to keep him out of a cockpit. He has more than 42,000 flying hours in a variety of aircraft and has been flying at airshows for nearly 20 years. "I've been really fortunate to fly," said Wilhite. "A high in my career would be flying combat missions in Vietnam."

Wilhite flys a Russian MiG-17, at the age of 82. "People come to airshows looking for thrills and to watch war birds fly," he said. "It's a fun day to bring your family."

Maj. Ryan Hendrickson, a pilot for the 30th Airlift Squadron, and airshow director, along with assistance from other base agencies, made the airshow a success. "I truly appreciate the team effort and support from dedicated individuals and squadrons who supported the event. We couldn't have done it without them," Hendrickson said. "The number of people at the airshow and community involvement was amazing. Many of the performers said they want to come back next year--that's a good thing."