Gunfighter Skies Air & Space Show
Gunfighter Skies Air & Space ShowLt. Col. Norman M. Rockwell, CAP
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Demonstration Team, Wings of Blue-U.S. Air Force Parachute Team, ACC F-22 Raptor Demo Team, Tora Tora Tora Airshow. Who wouldn’t want to see them?
In March of this year Col. David Guzman, representing the Idaho Wing, Civil Air Patrol (CAP), extended an invitation to Col. Carol Lynn, commander of the Nevada Wing, CAP, to assist Idaho squadrons in providing volunteer efforts at the Mountain Home Air Force Base 75th Anniversary air and space celebration, Mountain Home, Idaho. The celebration was scheduled for the first weekend in June. As the Elko Composite Squadron (NV-029, the Silver Eagles) and the Humboldt County Composite Squadron (NV-068) were the closest and could probably be the most able to assist, Col. Lynn referred the Idaho request to Maj. Diana Jones, the Elko commander and interim Humboldt commander.
Maj. Jones and Col. Guzman coordinated the event regarding, but not limited to, such items as: base entry, including ID requirements; logistics, including quarters and messing; uniforms; and, CAP duties during the event. Due to their frequent and timely communications, including Col. Guzman’s coordination with appropriate base personnel, all items were satisfactorily arranged. Travel trailers were allowed on a parking lot adjacent to the baseball field and tenting was allowed on the field itself. Participating cadets and several seniors took advantage of this camping experience. Messing was available at the Wagon Wheel, the base Dining Facility (DFAC), and was enjoyed by all.
The primary duties of the Civil Air Patrol were assistance in radio communications and manning stations at the main entrance for preparation of voluntary wrist bands for children. The bands had the cell phone number of the parent(s) so they could be immediately contacted if their child/children became separated from them during the event. I would note that several parents were very appreciative of this service after retrieving their tots.
As it happened the Humboldt Squadron was unable to assist but the Elko Squadron had five senior members and three cadets that made the trip. Members arrived at the base at 1300 MDT on Friday, June 1, and were quartered within the hour. They were then able to enjoy the afternoon watching the practice sessions of the aerial performances.
Saturday dawned bright and clear, with gates opening at 0830. Performances that began at 1030 included: the Wings of Blue with their parachuting flag opening; a P-51 Mustang demonstration; the P-51 and an F-22 Raptor heritage flight; F-15 Eagles and F-22 flights; a Yak 110 (2 radial engine Yak 55s that were connected by a short wing with an under wing mounted jet engine); Nathan Hammond skywriting (everybody loved his smiley faces); and, Brad Wursten aerobatics. During a series of impressive flare ejecting maneuvers by an F-15 and an F-22 a rather large acreage grass fire was started that had to be contained – an unanticipated smokey
thrill for all. A spectacular highlight was the Tora Tora Tora Airshow where seven T-5 Texans are configured and painted to look like the Japanese planes that attacked Pearl Harbor (“Zero” fighters, “Val” dive bombers, and “Kate” torpedo bombers). There was finely coordinated flying accompanied by awesome pyrotechnics.
At approximately 1330 an unfortunate incident occurred during the Dan Buchanan performance. Dan, a hang glider pilot who, despite being confined to a wheelchair due to a spinal injury in 1981, was a longtime air show performer who frequently flew at Minden, NV, when not on the air show circuit. He crashed on the base runway and was taken by helicopter to a Boise hospital, and it was announced about 30 minutes later that he died from his injuries. All remaining performances were cancelled for the day. In Dan’s memory, the air show resumed on Sunday.
There were approximately 75 cadets and several senior members from the Nampa, Pocatello, Twin Falls, and Boise Composite Squadrons. All squadron members, including Elko, enjoyed the camaraderie of working together.
Col. Guzman later reported to Maj. Jones that the Mountain Home Air Force Base commander was highly appreciative of the assistance provided by the Civil Air Patrol.