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  • By TSgt Brandon Boos
  • 179AW Public Affairs
A C-130 Hercules transport plane from Mansfield's 179th Airlift Wing joined dozens of other aircraft from around the country at the Thunder over the Valley airshow; an interactive showcase of aviation and aircraft, past and present.

The Mansfield plane was configured for aero-medical operations, allowing visitors to see how wounded warriors or the victims of natural disasters might be evacuated to safety while receiving essential medical care.
The plane's crew engaged visitors at the rear ramp and onboard. Visitors of all ages took turns looking out the windows, climbing on the seats, and exploring the cockpit. "This is really incredible," one man said aloud as he walked through the plane, "I can't believe that they just let us see and touch everything."

First Lieutenant Karl Walker, a pilot with the 179th Airlift Wing, said that despite frequent rain showers, he had probably seen more than a thousand people climb up into the plane's cockpit by the end of the airshow's first day. "It's been non-stop," he said with a smile. "People like to sit at the controls and ask about the gauges. Every kid that comes up here leaves, wanting to be a pilot."

Thunder over the Valley 2014 also featured static displays, (touch-a-plane), of the C-5 Globemaster, F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Warthog, C-17 Globemaster, KC-10 Extender, T-1A Jayhawk, T-6 Texan, and T-38 Talon. The planes came from a mixture of Active, Reserve, and Air National Guard units, but according to Lieutenant Colonel *NAME*, they were all there for the same reason. "We're here to make a good show and support the community," he said while greeting families as they climbed into the 179th Air Wing's C-130.

Air shows like Thunder over the Valley are one of the ways that the Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve are able to share what they do with civilians who are interested in aviation and military culture.
The airshow's host unit, the 910th Airlift Wing, also set-up events and displays to help visitors gain insight into the Air Force's non-flying activities. Senior Airman Danielle Massengill of the 910th Security Forces Squadron was at the event helping guests to try-on protective equipment and letting them see some of the weaponry used to defend Air Force assets and installations. "The planes are the big draw, but people are also interested in us. We're here so that they see all of this, too," she said.
The United States Air Force Honor Guard from Bowling Air Force Base, Washington DC was also present during the air show. The team is an elite ceremonial unit that features a professionally choreographed sequence of show-stopping weapon maneuvers, precise tosses, and complex weapon exchanges. Onlookers stopped what they were doing to get a glimpse of the four members as they centered on a stationary drill commander and hurled their 11 pound weapons over the commander.
The Air Force Thunderbirds out of Nellis AFB, Nevada is the air demonstration squadron for the United Sates Air Force and was the highlight of the event. The squadron performed aerobatic formations and solo flying in the specially marked aircraft, the F-16 fighting falcon. From diamond formations, low altitude aileron rolls, loops, and the calypso pass; the Thunderbirds put on a show that captivated and inspired the audience of all ages.