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171st on display at air show

June 2008 -- There were some exciting attractions at this year's local Air Show. The performers included the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, electrifying the crowd as they flew their jets in close formation. The Army's Golden Knights parachute team wowed audiences with their aerial demonstrations. But, any member of the 171st Air Refueling Wing who attended the show likely would have been most impressed with the performances being given by their own unit members!
The "Wings over Pittsburgh" Air Show was held at the 911th Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve Base, Pittsburgh International Airport on May 10 and 11. The 171st was represented by airmen who served as volunteers for the event. Most of these individuals agreed that it was a fun way to take a break from AEF preparations.
The 171st had a KC-135 tanker on hand for all to enjoy. A few members of our operations squadron were on hand to answer questions and invite air show guests to climb aboard and see the inside of the airplane.
"Nobody can believe we're letting them in the tanker and up in the boom pod," said 2nd Lt. Brian Radford, 171st operations group.
Once inside the plane, individuals were greeted by Maj. Jack Barnes, 171st KC-135 instructor. He shared his knowledge of the jet and answered questions as people waited their turn to check out the cockpit.
Barnes volunteered to take part in the air show on Saturday after flying a mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom until 2 a.m. that morning.
Right next to the tanker, the 171st Aircrew Flight Equipment section had a display of all the equipment the aircrew uses. Here, everyone had a chance to inspect all the different items that the aircrew needs for flying. Of course, children and adults alike really enjoyed trying on the helmet.
"We've been a liaison for the 171st since the air show started," said Staff Sgt. Tim Tyler, 171st aircrew flight equipment. "Our display is pretty well known, we've been to huge air shows like Tattoo (England) and small air shows like Greenville."
"We've gotten letters and been requested to set up our display at different air shows," Tyler added.
This year our recruiters were excited about working with Maj. John Klatt, a member of the Minnesota Air National Guard. Klatt put on an aerobatic performance for the crowd.
Klatt and his team travel with a mobile recruiting unit that includes a flight simulator that everyone can check out. His team is a great recruiting tool that was used at the air show.
Maj. Klatt also performed a ceremonial enlistment of five of the 171 ARW's newest members at the air show.
Those new airmen will soon live the lives of traditional guardsmen. MSgt. Joe Morris, 171 ARW operations, was an example of a true traditional member at the air show. He pulled double duty at the event. Saturday, he was there working his civilian job, Allegheny County firefighter. Then, Sunday, he represented the 171st as a boom operator, showing off the boom pod, and answering questions the public had about the refueling mission.
Many hours of planning, preparation and hard work made the 2008 "Wings over Pittsburgh