Mission complete: Frontiers in Flight
By Airman 1st Class Alan Ricker, Senior Airman Jenna Caldwell, Staff Sgt. Trevor Rhynes, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 12, 2018
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, at 11 a.m., four Airmen stood center stage holding high both the flag of the United States and the Air Force flag. The wind waved the flags as the U.S. national anthem was sung and silence remained among the crowd. Cheers rose as soon as the last note of the anthem rang, which ignited the start of McConnell’s 2018 Frontiers in Flight Open House and Air Show.
“Airmen from all three wings at McConnell and our community partners came together to put on the first show since 2012,” said Maj. Pete Merrill, Open House and Air Show director. “Frontiers in Flight is just one of our ways that we could give back to the community that gives us so much.”
McConnell welcomed nearly 110,000 guests on Sept. 8 and 9 and provided them with a plethora of activities at the show, which included Science, Technology, Engineering and Math workshops, recruiter services, concessions, souvenirs, kids’ zone, aircraft displays and aerial demonstrations.
“It was exciting to watch from show center the expressions of our neighbors taking in the sights and sounds of the show,” said Maj. Ryan Frost, OHAS air operations director. “We owe a significant debt of gratitude to our incredible lineup of civilian and military acts.”
The Patriot Parachute Team stepped up in the final hour to open the show following the Golden Knights’ cancellation following the death of one of their members, Staff Sgt. Aliaksandr Bahrytsevich.
The flybys from the A-10 Thunderbolt II, B-2 Spirit, C-17 Globemaster III and KC-135 Stratotanker demonstrations, and the headlining thunderbirds were just a few of the 15 aerial acts highlighting the entire event. Guests were able to interact with multiple aircraft displays from all over the nation as well.
Senior Master Sgt. Eric Kent, OHAS ramp coordinator, explained that he designed the ramp layout of aircraft for visitors. Representatives were available at each aircraft display to give guests insight on how and why the Air Force uses the aircraft and explained their functions as well.
Aircraft weren’t the only thing that lined the ramp; visitors were also able to learn about STEM as well.
“The great thing about an open house is that it provides so much more than just an air show!” said Capt. Justin Lukso, OHAS ground coordinator. “Our community partners made it possible to add another domain to the air show experience.”
STEM gives an opportunity for children, and even adults, to learn by using hands-on activities. Toy planes, weather demonstrations and engineering projects were presented to families as they walked from the kids’ zone into Hangar 1107. Each STEM station, bus and aircraft had a volunteer to educate guests about McConnell and the Air Force.
Nearly 1,000 Airmen, military and civilian, volunteered behind the scenes throughout show weekend, from set up and tear down to parking lots and tent staff.
“I was gifted with the world’s best air show team!” Merrill said. “Their motivation and selfless dedication made it a fantastic event!”
“On behalf of Team McConnell and all of those that helped with the air show this weekend, Thank You!” said Col. Josh Olson, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “This base is your base, and we’ll never forget that. We are able to accomplish our mission only because of the exceptional communities that surround us. Your Midwest hospitality was ever apparent this past weekend as together we delivered a world-class air show in the “Air Capital of the World.”