Luke Air Force Base 2011 Airshow & Open House
For three days in March the sky was filled with Military and Civilian aircraft. Also on the list of performers were the United States Army Golden Knights and the Red Bull Skydiving Team. There were spectators from across Arizona and many from across the country that were here to see the show. The event kicked off on Friday for base personnel and their family members. This allowed the base staff to have the day off and take the family to enjoy the show with out all of the visitors in attendance. This also allowed for their children to be able to climb on the static displays without having to wait in line.
On Friday I was able to get a nice photo opportunity with Tim Weber and his Extra 300s Aerobatic Aircraft (N94BJ). Tim Weber and his staff were very friendly and they had no problems answering all of my questions. While I was out there I was able to talk with other Airshow performers. The teams included Dan Mcclung and his Red Eagle Air Sports and Kirby Chambliss and his Red Bull Air Racing team. Also in attendance was Chuck Arron and his 1985 MBB BO-105S (N154EH).
Saturday Morning and the show must go on. Lines started to form at 7am and you could feel the excitement in the air. I do not know how many times I heard children say ” I am going to be a Fighter Pilot”. Gates open, and the crowds rush with their folding chairs heading towards the location that they are going to set up for the day. I spoke to a couple of retired Vets “Old Timers” and they said they found the perfect location. About 10 feet from the beer tent and 10 feet from the bathroom. “It doesn’t get any better than this”, according to Jack who was a pilot in the Vietnam Era. So me and Joe Kates meet up with SSG Reese Pendleton who is in charge of the media rides for the US Army Golden Knights. We took a nice golf cart ride out to the area were the Golden knight F-27 was staged. We boarded a twin-engine turboprop Fokker. The first 3 rows in the front of the aircraft were normal passenger seats. That is were we got our safety instructions and where we signed a liability wavier just in case of some mishap during the flight. Then we moved to the aft of the aircraft where we were seated on canvas seats with our backs to the fuselage. Then we were strapped down with our camera and video recorders. I remember SSG Pendleton reminding me I was going to get cold.
Then we got clearance to taxi to active. Before we knew it we were off the ground. That is when the Golden Knights started putting on there gear and chutes. I believe it was 4000 ft when two members dropped some black and gold streamers. When asked what the purpose was for those they said it was used to see what the wind direction was. As we approached 14ooo feet it was cold. My legs looked like chicken legs, I could not feel my lips and I believe I was getting a mild case of hypoxia. I was offered some oxygen by a crew member and I declined. I did not want to look like a wimp. At that time all the members lined up and started chanting some words. Before I knew it they had jumped out of the aircraft. My fingers were so cold that I could not push the shutter button to get a picture as they jumped out. We circled Luke for about three minutes and then we descended to make a perfect landing. By the time we had reached our staging area the jumper’s had already made it back. It took them no time to get their parachutes rigged again for the next jump.
I would like to thank the following people for their hard work .
Mrs. Jodi Jordan-Civ USAF 56th FW/PAM
TSGT Susan Stout-USAFR 944th FW/PA
Without them our access could not have happened. They went above and beyond to make sure that we got what we asked for. Thank you so much.
Written By Jason Bong. Used with his permission.