The Hill AFB open house and air show boasted thrills and chills, not just as a result of viewing agile aerial demonstrations of skill as the weather ended up playing a large role in the Warriors Over the Wasatch: A Legacy of Valor May 26-27. With events scattered throughout three days, including pre-show events on Friday, May 25, bursts of rain, even occasional hail, did stir up the schedule somewhat on Saturday and Sunday but determined crowds came out in force and were rewarded with Thunderbird flights each afternoon.
A Heritage Flight performed by 388th Fighter Wing Capt.Garrett "Mace" Dover in an F-16 Fighting Falcon and civilian pilot Greg Anders in a P-51 Mustang flew in tandem to delight the crowds each day., Other attractions included MiG fighter jets, sky divers and other amazing aerial displays.
Rich Essary, 75th Public Affairs media relations, reports an estimated 100,000 were in the crowd on Saturday; with 150,000 people in attendance on Sunday.
Lt. Col. Juris Jansons, 75th Operational Support Squadron commander, reported the air show a great success. "From an organizational perspective, this was a high water mark in our cooperation with the local communities. Not only was the fiscal support from the community outstanding, but the addition of bus support from the (UTA) Front Runner was a really welcome addition. Most importantly, I think that we accomplished what we set out to do; because our friends and neighbors were willing to come out despite the weather, we were able to show them what we do here at Hill Air Force Base."
As director of the air show, Jansons also complemented his volunteer support staff and all those who contributed in any way from the base during the open house. "I would like to add a special thanks to all those who planned and executed WOW (Warriors Over the Wasatch). I have been lucky to work with a great group of planners for the last year. When it came time to execute, we had great people on the line directing traffic, running security, and making things happen, despite the rain."
Dover, who flew the F-16 in the Heritage Flight also played a part alongside many on the planning committee. "Obviously there were a lot of moving parts putting on the air show. My specific job was as the Thunderbird point of contact and I was in charge of the Heritage Flight portion of the show.
"Obviously we had a lot of weather issues and I was just so impressed with the community and how many folks who either stayed or came back out (to the show). As you know there were a couple of storms, one each day that sent people running for cover, but it was amazing to see how once the skies parted how many came back or were still out there," said Dover. "It was amazing to me."
Dover said he thinks air shows play a role in recruitment. The pilot said it was the result of just such an air show that he became a pilot. His parents took him to an air show in Montana, when he was a child.
"I just fell in love with aviation," he said. "I spent the rest of my time through high school trying to get as close as I could to airplanes but usually that just involved fueling them or washing them down with a rag. Eventually I made the U.S. Air Force Academy my goal ... and after a while I got my hands on an F-16."
Nathan Myers, Hill Aerospace Museum, estimates 3,500 in total dropped by to see the displays there during the weekend, nearly double the attendance during that period of time. When the clouds broke and dropped their contents, a lot of attendees took the opportunity to go check out the base attraction.
"It was great to have the people who might not have come here (before) -- to have them take advantage of the opportunity to see the museum along with their trip to the air show," said Myers. "A lot of people, I think, were not aware that we were here and were pleasantly surprised with the collection we have."
Scott Wirz, museum director, said, "Nathan, the staff and our volunteers represented us very well and we received a lot of complements."