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NEWS | April 11, 2011

Air Expo Demo Teams visit local community

By Tech. Sgt. Vernon Cunningham 628 Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Members from two Air Combat Command demonstration teams visited a local school and hospital shortly after arriving at Joint Base Charleston April 7 for Air Expo 2011.

The Air Force's F-15E and A-10 demonstration teams used their free time to visit students and patients in order to talk about current air power and the expo.

Hours after landing on JB CHS - Air Base, representatives from both teams traveled to Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center where they spent a few hours talking to, and taking pictures with, the patients at the facility.

A-10 demo pilot Maj. Dylan Thorpe said he feels good when he and his team are able to put a smile on someone's face.

"Being an A-10 demonstration pilot is a unique opportunity to represent the A-10 and the Air Force community," the major said. "This is what we do for a living and I love it."

Meanwhile, members of the F-15E demonstration team visited Berkeley High School and spoke to more than 500 juniors, seniors and Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps students.

Kimberley McLaren, Berkeley High School principal, chose the audience based on who could benefit the most from the team's visit.

"Our juniors and seniors are really focused on where they are going after high school and many are really interested in hearing about the Air Force," the principal said.

Representatives from the demonstration team spoke to the students about the equipment they use and the training they receive as Air Force pilots.

Rebecca Barnhart, a sophomore at Berkeley High School, said she enjoyed the presentation and video.

"I think it is amazing how they maneuver the planes," she said. "It's very interesting to hear how much they can carry and how far they can go. It's mind boggling."

"We can come here and fly the plane in the show, but there is not a whole lot of return in investment," said Maj. Mike Maeder, ACC F-15E demonstration pilot. "We try to get out in the community as much as we can. We try to get to the hospitals and schools in order to tell people about the Air Force. That is really why we are here."

The teams were in town for the 2011 Joint Base Charleston Air Expo which included the Wounded Warrior Flight Team, the GEICO Skytypers, an Air Mobility Command Heritage Flight, Tora! Tora! Tora!, a re-enactment of the Battle of Midway and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.