Air Shows Are Dreams
by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Mark Olsen
September 21, 2018
For some people, air shows are the opportunity to see awesome aerial displays, climb on board an aircraft and talk to its aircrew.
For others, air shows are dreams.
“I met a nine-year old named Dakota and his goal is to be a pilot,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer R. Moses, 514th senior flight examiner and noncommissioned officer in charge of standards and evaluations with the 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing.
On June 16, the 514th Air Mobility Wing sent a KC-10 Extender and a C-17 Globemaster III to the annual Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The Center is the Smithsonian’s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport and the companion facility to the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The aircraft were crewed by Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 78th Air Refueling Squadron and the 732nd Airlift Squadron. In addition, flight nurses and aeromedical evacuation technicians with the 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (AES) were on a training mission on the C-17, so they brought an extra depth in telling the Air Force Reserve’s mission to the show’s attendees.
“Being able to show the public what goes on behind the scenes is a great thing,” said Senior Airman Cristen “MJ” Manjarrez, an aeromedical evacuation technician with the 514th AES. “It opens their eyes to the different types of missions we perform.”
Air shows are a critical component to showing the public both the face and the technology behind today’s Air Force Reserve.
“I take pride in my job, so I am thrilled to talk about my aircraft to people during air shows,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Fisher, C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster with the 732nd Airlift Squadron. “When we perform at air shows, it reminds me of why I joined the Air Force.”
This was the show’s fifteenth year and more than 15,000 spectators from across the region attended the event.
“This was my first time working an air show after two decades of attending them as a kid,” said 1st Lt. Nicholas J. Birbilis, a C-17 Globemaster III pilot with the 732nd Airlift Squadron. “Talking to the little kids about flying and the C-17 brought back memories of when I was on the other side of the event and being inspired by the aircrews.”
“It was a great opportunity to get the children involved and learn how we serve,” said Capt. Allison Riley, a flight nurse with the 514th.
“The show invites the public in to our world where we can share our experiences with them,” said Tech. Sgt. Maricella Pichardo, an aeromedical evacuation technician with the 514th.
More than 50 military, vintage, and modern aircraft were on display outside the Center for the one day show. The static displays included crew members to educate attendees about the various aircraft and their missions.
“I really enjoy talking to people about the AE (Aeromedical Evacuation) mission and all the moving parts that goes into it,” said Capt. John Bergacs, a flight nurse with the 514th AES.
Air shows serve to build an understanding with the public of the vital role Reserve Citizen Airmen provide in our nation’s defense.
“It was exciting showing our AE skills to the visitors,” said Master Sgt. Louis Muzyka, a 514th aeromedical evacuation technician. “They were engaged and left with an understanding of how important the AE role is in bringing home our sick and wounded warriors.”
The attendees also had the opportunity to discover the science behind flight through hands-on, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) based activities.
“It makes me wonder how many of these children will be flying Air Force aircraft in 20 years,” said Birbilis.
Which brings it back to Dakota whose goal is to become a pilot.
“It’s all about bringing a nine-year old’s dream to life,” said Moses.