By Bill Stansbeary
The men and women of Luke Air Force Base, in Glendale, Ariz., welcomed more than 250,000 people to “A Show of Force ‘070—From Heritage to Horizons,” March 24-25.
Luke Days 2007 was one of the first events to celebrate the Air Force’s 60th anniversary. Brig. Gen. Tom Jones, 56th Fighter Wing commander, invited guests to “see something amazing” with the sights and sounds of advanced weapon systems. Visitors also had the opportunity to see and meet members of the military.
The Thunderbirds headlined Luke Days 2007. The Air Force Academy Wings of Blue parachute demonstration team opened the ceremonies with the U.S. flag jump from altitude, to the national anthem. The crowd also witnessed a jump by the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute demonstration team.
Maj. Ed Hamill, an Air Force Reserve F-16 instructor, also flies an Air Force Reserve-sponsored Pitts Special aerobatic biplane to perform for air show crowds.
“My show honors three eras of the last century of aerobatics, from the barnstormers of the ’20s and ’30s and the competitors of the ’50s and ’60s to the sky dancers of today,” he said. “The message throughout the show is to set goals, work hard and never give up.”
Courtesy of the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 Super Hornet demonstration team displayed the capabilities of this all-weather fighter and attack aircraft.
The Commemorative Air Force recreated the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, with a living history flight called “Tora, Tora, Tora!” The Air Combat Command F-15E Strike Eagle demonstration team flew to display capabilities of the dual-role fighter, designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.
Steve Cowell of Denver flew his North American T-6 Texan Double Vee. It’s the only authentic, fully restored, flyable aircraft in existence used by the Tuskegee Airmen. Double Vee is named in honor of the historic campaign waged during World War II by African-Americans: a victory abroad against the Axis powers and a victory at home against prejudice.
Tim Weber flew the Extra 300 and Greg Poe flew the Edge 540 aerobatic aircraft in high-energy performances.
Bill Reesman showed off the capabilities of his MiG-17. The aircraft type was so effective against American fighter pilots in Vietnam that the Navy created Top Gun and the Air Force created Red Flag, to better train U.S. pilots in air-to-air combat.
Two Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptors were on static display, along with many other aircraft, such as the C-5 Galaxy, CV-22 Osprey, T-38 Talon and C-17 Globemaster III. A Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit Bomber made a flyover.
America’s aircraft and her aviators have a proud heritage. A Heritage Flight included a P-51 Mustang, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15 Eagle and A-10 Thunderbolt, to unite the past with the present.