March AirFest 2016 brings the thunder

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen/Released)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (NNS) – On April 16-17 in Riverside, Calif., the smoke bellowed from the engines and aircraft roared over the March Air Reserve Base (ARB), marking the start of March Field Airfest 2016 “Thunder over the Empire”.

March ARB hosted the event to showcase the base capabilities, the Air Force Reserve, all the branches of the U.S. Military and several aviation-related groups located in the Inland Empire and Southern California area, with the overall theme “Thunder Over the Empire.” In addition to the Patriots Jet Team, Robosaurus, the Camarillo Ward Birds demo and several other demonstration teams, AirFest was headlined by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

“The purpose of the air show is to demonstrate the precision, the professionalism and pride of the airmen of the U.S. Air Force, said Maj. Alexander Turner, number 6 plane pilot of the Thunderbirds. “In my heart, the reason that the air show exists is one for the people that love aviation would come together and share that love and pride. Another reason is to inspire others to maybe pursue aviation as a career.”

The Airfest not only amazed spectators with military and civilian aerial shows, but also showcased the many different types of modern military aircraft, such as the C-17 Globemaster III and the B-1 Lancer. Complementing the diverse quantity of current war-fighting machines were several other aircrafts from the World War 2 era, available for the public to view as static displays.

“My family had such an awesome time,” said Jody Judkins, a local citizen who attended the demonstration. “Our favorite jets were the Thunderbirds. Thank you to everyone who put on the event for a wonderful day! From three generations, the Judkins will see you again next year!”

Nearly half a million civilians, active and reserve service members, as well as retirees, participated in the air show. They not only came from the Inland Empire area and other parts of Southern California, but some European counties were represented in the crowd.

“It was a great show and very interesting to see,” said Christian Schafer, a spectator from Germany. “All the planes in the static show were touchable. There is no chance in Europe we would ever be able to get that close!”

Rerre Italiana, an Italian citizen, was also impressed with her Airfest experience.

“It was an awesome show,” said Italiana. “The Air Force men and women stationed at March were fabulous hosts, very helpful, polite and gracious. Thanks March for hosting an excellent show!”

Airfest proved to be a great event for the community and for March ARB and would only benefit in the recruitments efforts of the Air Force, as well as any other branches of armed forces.

“It is very important to the Air Force for us to be able to come out and connect with the public,” said Tuner. “It is one of the major things that we thrive to do because it opens up the channel for us to speak about what our country’s airmen are doing. We are doing aerial demonstrations with smoke and loops with non-tactical aircraft. But the amount of hard work, precision and pride that we take in this demonstration represents what they are doing out there in the combat and training Air Force.”