SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Parker Stewart, son of Master Sgt. Christopher Stewart, 114th Public Affairs photographer, cools off with a snow cone during Sioux Falls Airshow 2012. The 114th Fighter Wing hosted the airshow in conjuction with the city and also used the day as Family Day for it's units members and families.(National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Stewart)(Released)
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The F-22 Raptor flies along side the P-38 Lightning in a heritage flight during the Sioux Falls Airshow 2012. Together, in the air, the demonstration reminds onlookers of the progress made since 1942. Each aircraft is the state-of-the-art in combat fighter design for its time.(National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Quinton Young)(Released)
by Staff Sgt. Trisha Smeenk
114th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
7/27/2012 - SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The 114th Fighter Wing hosted over 100,000 people at Joe Foss Field during Sioux Falls Airshow 2012 July 21 and 22. Military members, their families and friends, and community members endured skyrocketing temperatures of over 100 degrees during the "Power on the Prairie" airshow.
Every three years visitors travel from across the state and nation to witness some of the world's most advanced aircraft on display and in the sky at Sioux Falls Airshow. Hot weather did not detour fans from driving from as far as ten hours away to attend the event.
Not only were 114th Fighter Wing members' eyes in the sky, but their morale was sky high as well. This is because during the airshow, unit members also participated in their annual Family Day activities. This is a rare day every year when unit members are allowed to bring their family members to work with them.
Staff Sgt. Stahl, 114th Logistics Readiness Squadron, brought his sons, Prestyn and Peirce, as well as his parents, Jean and Tyrone Stahl, to enjoy the event.
"It was a blast. I think it gives our families an appreciation for what we do. I got to give a tour to my two boys and my mom and dad. My dad said he liked the Harrier the best," said Stahl.
Under the watchful eye of their grandfather, Stahl's two boys played on the ground with small toy airplanes depicting F-16s while the real ones buzzed past overhead.
Master Sgt. Christopher Stewart says this is what Family Day at the airshow is all about.
"When family day is combined with an airshow it gives us a chance to really show off for our families and they see the Air Force at its best. Family day is special because it gives my family a chance to see where I work and who I work with," said Stewart.
For the past nine years Sgt. Stewart has traveled across the state from Rapid City to attend unit training assemblies. Because of the great distance, he said his family doesn't often get the chance to visit the base. He was grateful for the opportunity to bring his family along this time.
"Family day gives them an excuse to come down with me for the weekend to see where I work and what I do" explained Stewart. "This creates understanding and support from my family, which is extremely important for me. Without their support and understanding, leaving for my guard job would be much more stressful."
Nikki Wager, 114th Fighter Wing Airman and Family Program Manager, focuses on getting troops as well as their families prepared for the challenges of today's military. She says family day is a way to boost morale among not only military members, but their families as well.
"Families play a vital part in making our base a success. Without them our military members would not be able to focus on their mission. Our family day is another way that we can get our families out to the base so that they can understand what their military member does on a day to day basis," explains Wager.
While Wager spends her days worrying about Airmen's wellbeing, most Airmen are only worried about their family's wellbeing. Master Sgt. Christopher Stewart was grateful his son had the time of his life during family day at the airshow.
"I do know that we don't have to put on an airshow for the families to have fun. According to my four year old son Parker, his favorite activities were riding on the school bus onto the base, jumping in the bouncy castle, and eating a snow cone. He could have cared less about the incredible flight demonstrations occurring just over head." joked Stewart.
The incredible flight demonstrations may have been over the head of a four year old, but that's exactly what fans were able to see. Onlookers watched over 12 demonstrations of airpower while spending time with the ones they love.
As the F-22 Raptor displayed its state-of-the-art combat fighter design, the P-38 Lightning took to the sky and flew alongside it in a heritage flight to remind us of our nation's strength in 1942, as well as today. Patriotic music played in the background as the announcers reminded us of why we were free to enjoy the day.
When the airplane noise got quieter in the distance the announcers and patriotic music were able to be heard again. This demonstration embodied the power of the United States military and was what people had come to see. Despite the melting heat people got goose bumps watching the power in the sky.