LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – The KC-135R and F-16 aircrafts from the Arizona Air National Guard were showcased at the Luke Days Air Show here, March 17-18. The event attracted thousands of spectators from across the state excited to witness the air superiority of the United States Air Force and the Arizona Air National Guard.
The air show was free and open to the general public, composed of a variety of aircraft acrobatic performances, jumping-castles for children and multiple food and Air Force apparel vendors, to mention a few.
The 161st Air Refueling Wing operates the KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft. Attendees waited in line for an opportunity to observe the aircraft’s capabilities. “I was in one of these aircrafts back in 1971 while in the service and I have to say, I am impressed with the upkeep of this refueler,” said Julio Mayo, 101st Airborne Division Vietnam veteran. “Being here reassures me of the strength of the air guard and all Arizonans owe it to the well-trained men and women of the United States Air Force and Arizona National Guard,” Mayo said.
The Stratotanker was flown from its home station, Goldwater Air National Guard Base in Phoenix, Arizona, in support of the air show at Luke Air Force Base. The aircrew and other wing members were on standby to answer any questions that interested onlookers had about the aircraft.
Luke Days Air Shows provides volunteer opportunities for other wing members. This year personnel from the maintenance, security forces and force support squadron participated. “I see a lot of energy and excitement from members of the community eager to observe Air Force inventory and its capability,” said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Lowe, 161st Air Refueling Wing recruiting office supervisor and retention manager. Lowe added, “I am a motivated airman for the wing, and it is my pleasure to help our customers, understand what it is that we are all about.”
Hundreds gathered around the Stratotanker, which was positioned between the C-5 Galaxy and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels aircrafts.
Also present at the air show was the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft based at the 162nd Wing in Tucson, Arizona. Bystanders were filled with exhilaration when they saw the aircraft. The vast majority of the observers took pictures of themselves near the aircraft. “It is emotionally inspiring to see and stand next to this fierce-looking fighter plane. I am super grateful to the young men and women who operate this plane to ensure that I keep my freedom,” said Jan Shimoda, one of the many spectators.
Arizona’s KC-135R and F-16 train side-by-side to accomplish the federal and state mission.
Standing next to Shimoda, Larry Frus, another spectator, said the Air Power exhibition at the air show was magnificent. “I have a lot of respect for people who secure our freedoms in this F-16. It truly takes plenty of skill to handle this exotic and expensive piece of aero-technological power,” Frus said. He added that he is grateful to the United States Air Force and the Arizona National Guard for their love of this country. “It’s aero-dynamic appearance and air superiority is awe-inspiring. It’s no wonder that they are always ready, always there,” Frus said.