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Laughlin maintainer recalls airshow memories

Steve Hogan, 47th Maintenance T-1A Jayhawk phase supervisor, looks forward to March 14, 2020, a special Saturday here at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, the day of the bases’ first airshow of the decade. Hogan, a military brat, shares there’s something about planes he’s always loved. “My father was an aircraft mechanic for the U.S. Air Force, and I followed his footsteps,” Hogan said. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Steve Hogan, 47th Maintenance T-1A Jayhawk phase supervisor, looks forward to March 14, 2020, a special Saturday here at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, the day of the bases’ first airshow of the decade. Hogan, a military brat, shares there’s something about planes he’s always loved. “My father was an aircraft mechanic for the U.S. Air Force, and I followed his footsteps,” Hogan said. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas—It’s almost airshow time again, and while it may be a first for some, it will bring back memories of past airshows for others.

Steve Hogan, 47th Maintenance Directorate T-1A Jayhawk phase supervisor, looks forward to March 14, 2020, the day of Laughlin’s first airshow of the decade.

Hogan, a self-proclaimed military brat, shares there’s something about planes he’s always loved.

“My father was an aircraft mechanic for the U.S. Air Force, and I followed his footsteps,” Hogan said. “I’ve been working here since ’89, and I've been here since day one of the Jayhawks.”

He remembers the first airshow he saw at Laughlin in the early 1990’s, and the practice day in particular stood out to him. He believes practice day is always a good day because performers go out to scout the area, fly the aircraft and run through their show.

“The airfield is closed that Friday. All the performers are arriving, and it’s like your own private airshow,” he said.

When he thinks airshow, this scene replays vividly for Hogan.

“I remember an F-16 Fighting Falcon shooting down the runway and pulling up then turning off to the side, then here comes a B-1 Lancer behind him, rattling windows and pulls going straight up behind him,” he said. “So the F-16 came back around and does it again, and I didn’t think the B-1 would do it, but the B-1 followed right behind him and did it too.”

More than a decade later, Hogan would bring his wife and young son to another Laughlin airshow. What stands out in this memory is how the U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Thunderbirds, would use his hangar to work on their aircraft.

“The day of the show, one of the Thunderbirds was waiting in our hangar,” Hogan said. “I brought my son who was eight or nine years-old, and I asked if he could get a picture next to it—I think it was Thunderbird Six. He got his picture with one of the maintenance crew in the plane. My son was thrilled to see and touch the plane up close.”

During the upcoming Fiesta of Flight, he’ll be working in the hangar in case the Thunderbirds or any other visiting performers need to work on an aircraft.

“It’s a pride thing for us to be working during the airshow,” Hogan said. “That’s our hangar they’re in and working from. We get the perks of being closer to the visiting flyers and we’ll see how the Thunderbird aircrew and maintenance team go about their day-to-day work.”

Hogan looks forward to seeing who in the 2020 Fiesta of Flight will get to share his team’s hangar, and hopes to make a few more memories to look back at.