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Kentucky Air Guard to participate in USAF 70th Anniversary air show

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Phil Speck
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard will perform three demonstrations during the Thunder Over Louisville air show Saturday, April 22, giving hundreds of thousands of spectators the opportunity to witness a cargo airdrop, a high-altitude, low-opening parachute demonstration, and a helocast deployment of special operators.

This year’s show will commemorate the U.S. Air Force and Kentucky Air National Guard’s 70th anniversaries, according to Maj. Josh Ketterer, air show coordinator for the Kentucky Air Guard.

“Commemorating the 70th anniversary of our Air Force and the Kentucky Air Guard creates more energy for what is usually a very robust air show,” Ketterer said.

In the first event, Airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing will airdrop two bundles of cargo into the Ohio River from the back of a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft while flying at a height of approximately 500 feet.

"The C-130’s versatility allows the United States to project power in most any environment,” Ketterer said. “From landing on unimproved dirt strips and airlifting 42,000 pounds of cargo or about 100 troops into some of the world's most challenging environments, to providing precision airdrop in adverse conditions for troops in contact with the enemy, the C-130 is an incredible aircraft," he said. "Thunder allows us to demonstrate why the C-130 remains a premier airdrop platform."

In the second demonstration, four Airmen from the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron will perform a HALO parachute demonstration, jumping from the one of the unit’s C-130.

Finally, during the third demonstration, six Airmen from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron will perform a helocast mission from aboard two Kentucky Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.

Those six Airmen, a combination of combat controllers and pararescuemen, will jump into the Ohio River as the helicopters fly at a speed of 10 knots and an altitude of 10 feet, according to Lt. Col. Sean McLane, commander of the 123rd STS.

"This insertion demonstrates the manner in which our Airmen might enter a body of water to conduct a rescue mission or recover downed personnel," McLane said. "The same technique can be also used to conduct a clandestine infiltration into enemy territory during combat operations."

After the insertion is complete, the Airmen will be picked up by a boat operated by members of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron.

Aircraft performing in this year’s show include U.S. Air Force planes from every decade of airpower dating back to World War II. Among them are the P-51 Mustang, the F-86 Sabre, the B-52 Stratofortress, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the KC-135 Stratotanker and the C-17 Globemaster III.

“An Air Force Heritage Flight will include the newest fighter aircraft in the Air Force inventory, the F-35 Lighting II,” Ketterer added. “It will be accompanied by the P-51 and A-10.”

Other acts in the show will include the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights, the Army’s premier parachute team; the U.S. Navy’s F-18 Super Hornet Demo Team; B-25s from Doolittle’s Raid; a Marine Corps assault demo; and Canadian Air Force aircraft.

Once again, the Kentucky Air National Guard will serve as the base of operations for military aircraft participating in this year’s show, providing logistical and maintenance support.

“Thunder Over Louisville is the largest single-day air show in the nation,” Ketterer noted. “Hosting military aircraft gives our wing an incredible opportunity to showcase our professionalism and hospitality to our sister services and NATO partners.”