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Laughlin hosts the ‘Fiesta of Flight’

A performer at Laughlin’s Open House and Air Show, “Fiesta of Flight,” gives a thumbs-up the crowd as he taxis down the runway May 12, 2018. The airshow was visited by flyovers, performers and static displays from numerous bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Marco A. Gomez)

A performer at Laughlin’s Open House and Air Show, “Fiesta of Flight,” gives a thumbs-up the crowd as he taxis down the runway May 12, 2018. The airshow was visited by flyovers, performers and static displays from numerous bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Marco A. Gomez)

People attending the 2018 Fiesta of Flight open house and airshow, Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, take shelter from the sun under the tail of a C-17 Globemaster III, May 12, 2018. The official ceremonies kicked off the airshow at 12 p.m. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

The B-2 Spirit soared silently over Laughlin Air Force Bases’ flightline at the 2018 Fiesta of Flight open house and airshow, Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, May 12, 2018. The airshow was visited by flyovers, performers and static displays from numerous bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

People from Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Del Rio, Texas, Ciudad Acuna, Mexico and surrounding community gathered together for the 2018 Fiesta of Flight open house and airshow, Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, May 12, 2018. The official ceremonies kicked off the airshow at 12 p.m. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

Alexya Tamez, a student from Del Rio, works through a puzzle in the U.S. Air Force recruiters’ trailer at the 2018 Fiesta of Flight open house and airshow, Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, May 12, 2018. The trailer also featured an airplane simulator along with other puzzles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

Sara Reyes, a Del Rio, Texas resident, climbs the side of an A-10 Thunderbolt II at the 2018 Fiesta of Flight open house and airshow, Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, May 12, 2018. Reyes was one of approximately 22,400 people who attended the airshow and open house. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anne McCready)

The “Shockwave” jet truck emerges from a cloud of smoke just before a 360-mile-an-hour pass down the runway at Laughlin’s Open House and Airshow, “Fiesta of Flight,” on Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, May 12, 2018. Shockwave, along with 15 other performers put on a spectacle for more than 22,000 attendees at the airshow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mike Meares)

The “Shockwave” jet truck emerges from a cloud of smoke just before a 360-mile-an-hour pass down the runway at Laughlin’s Open House and Airshow, “Fiesta of Flight,” on Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, May 12, 2018. Shockwave, along with 15 other performers put on a spectacle for more than 22,000 attendees at the airshow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mike Meares)

Attendees of Laughlin Air Force Base’s open house and airshow, “Fiesta of Flight,” watch as a performer navigates the Texas skies, May 12, 2018. With more than 20,000 people in attendance, aircraft from various generations displayed their aerial capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin N. Valmoja)

Attendees of Laughlin Air Force Base’s open house and airshow, “Fiesta of Flight,” watch as a performer navigates the Texas skies, May 12, 2018. With more than 20,000 people in attendance, aircraft from various generations displayed their aerial capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin N. Valmoja)

Attendees of Laughlin Air Force Base’s open house and airshow, “Fiesta of Flight,” watch as performers navigate the Texas skies, May 12, 2018. With more than 20,000 people in attendance, aircraft from various generations displayed their aerial capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin N. Valmoja)

Attendees of Laughlin Air Force Base’s open house and airshow, “Fiesta of Flight,” watch as performers navigate the Texas skies, May 12, 2018. With more than 20,000 people in attendance, aircraft from various generations displayed their aerial capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin N. Valmoja)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

The normally quiet Texas skies were filled with the low rumbles and sub-sonic booms of aircraft across many generations providing a spectacle for more than 22,000 local community members flocking to Laughlin’s open gates for the first time in nearly a decade.

The 2018 Fiesta of Flight open house and air show’s numerous high-stakes aerial performances were also accompanied with static displays and Laughlin’s base agencies and other federal services on the ground, ready to demonstrate their capabilities to the show’s attendees on Saturday, May 12.

“It was an amazing, fun, and, most importantly, safe event,” said Maj. David Brant, 47th Flying Training Wing open house director. “All the performers were extremely impressed with the hospitality and professionalism of Team XL.”

One of those headlining performers, Joe “Rifle” Shetterly with his Van’s Aircraft RV-8, says he’s grateful for the opportunity to fly in the show, and hopes his high-speed performances and the airshow environment gives young attendees that spark of inspiration to either fly or be a part of modern airpower in their own way.

“The coolest thing about flying in an airshow is that it’s a license to do all the things that you want to do in an airplane that normally aren’t allowed by regulation,” Shetterly said. “Personally, I want to say thank you to everyone for coming out and being a part of the show,”

Greg “Wired” Colyer, a T-33 Shooting Star pilot and one of Shetterly’s counterparts in the airshow, shares Shetterly’s perspective of pushing aircraft to their limits by showing off an airframe which called Laughlin home nearly 50 years ago.

“It’s great to be able to come out and support the community, the base, and the men and women who serve in the armed forces, all while seeing a great air show and having a great day,” he said.

“The airshow went really well, and I think it was really well attended,” said Blanca Larson, Del Rio Chamber of Commerce member. “The kid’s zone was great, and the food was great for the kids as well as the adults. We look forward to having everyone back in two years.”

The U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Team, also known as the Thunderbirds, were originally slated to participate in the airshow. However, due to an incident, were forced to cancel several shows, to include Laughlin’s airshow.

“The loss of Thunderbird number four was truly an unfortunate event,” said 1st Lt. Mahalia Frost, 47th Flying Training Wing chief of public affairs. “Despite not having the Thunderbirds present at our air show and open house, however, the event was still a great success.”

Victoria Barlow, 47th Force Support Squadron community programs specialist, also views the airshow as a resounding success, thanks to the support the community, the sponsors, and the volunteers from Laughlin itself.

“The range of acts held the attention of everyone in the audience from our youngest members, to our veteran flyers,” she said. “It was truly a memorable event for the community.”

Brandt, when concluding his take on the Fiesta of Flight, immediately had one thing to say about his hopes for Laughlin’s potential 2020 airshow:

“Hopefully next time we’ll see some cooler weather!”