SMOKY MOUNTAIN AIR SHOW ATTRACTS THOUSANDS
By SrA Melissa Dearstone, 134 ARW Public Affairs
/ Published May 05, 2016
17 Apr 2016 -- MCGHEE-TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, TN.--More than 200,000 spectators gathered at McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base to witness the Smoky Mountain Airshow, which was the first show in 16 years, here Apr. 16-17.
The show included approximately seven aerial acts and over 30 local vendors, static displays, three musical performers and other activities for kids and families.
"My kids really loved playing tic- tac- toe with the Navy diver, and looking at all the airplanes and helicopters that are set up throughout the area," said Diana Smith, air show spectator.
Aerial acts included:
· United States Navy Blue Angels F-18 Hornets & Fat Albert (C-130)
· F-16 Viper Demo Team
· Commemorative Air Force: Dixie Wing
· Greg Koontz and the Alabama Boys
· Matt Younkin
· Jacquie B.
· Aeroshell Acrobatic Team
Technical Sgt. Brandon Klask, crew chief for the F-16 Viper Demo Team, said that his favorite part about airshows is showcasing what the F-16 can do and interacting with the crowd, especially with those that have never been in an Air Force environment, because it gives him the opportunity to show and teach them about what the aircraft is capable of.
Aircraft was not the only thing flying in the sky during the show, the U.S. Navy Parachute Team "The Leap Frogs," parachuted out of aircraft maneuvering through the sky to land exactly on their target.
According to http://leapfrogs.navy, the mission of the team is to demonstrate professional Navy excellence by performing precision aerial maneuvers throughout the United States in support of Navy public outreach.
Although there were a lot of twists, turns, loops and top speeds going on in the sky, there were also plenty of activities for families on the ground.
There were over 30 local vendors ranging from food, airshow merchandise, and local businesses. Performing throughout the show were the Ladies for Liberty, the 572nd Air Force Band of the South and the Navy Band Great Lakes, and singing the National Anthem was Capt. Stephanie McKeen, Executive Officer for the 134th Air Refueling Wing.
Even though air shows are primarily set up to give back to the local community, the performers get just as much back in return.
"Back in the 80's, there were 300,000 registered pilots in the United States and now we are down to under 100,000," said Master Sgt. Aaron Smith, crew chief for the F-16 Viper Demo Team. "Having the ability to spark that interest in aviation and all things mechanical in those young kids and seeing the wonderment in their eyes as we talk about the aircraft is just awesome. That is the best part about air shows."
To check out more highlights from the Smoky Mountain Airshow, visit the 134th Air Refueling Wing Facebook site at www.facebook.com/134ARW.