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!”