97 AMW takes on one of world’s largest air shows

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kari Degraffenreed
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, traveled to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for the 2023 Experimental Aviation Association AirVenture Air Show from July 24-30, 2023.

While the AirVenture show was celebrating 70 years, this year marked the first time the Air Education and Training Command was highlighted as the feature command.

Altus AFB sent the KC-135 Stratotanker and C-17 Globemaster III demo team to the show. They were able to showcase the training they employ out of Mobility’s Hometown as the only C-17 formal training unit in the U.S. Air Force.

The 58th Airlift Squadron supported the event with a C-17 static display for the estimated 650,000 attendees to walk through and talk to the pilots and loadmasters about the aircraft’s capabilities.

“Kids get to come in here and see the airplane and how it works,” said Capt. Justin Zahn, 58th Airlift Squadron demo team pilot. “Then, at the end of the week, they get to see what the C-17 can do when it's actually flying. I know a couple of kids walked away with stars in their eyes who looked like they wanted to fly this aircraft one day.”

The aircrews were joined by Lt. Col. Patrick Mclaughlin, 97th Air Mobility Wing director of staff, who spoke about his experience flying the C-17 to Haiti during disaster relief efforts, supporting Operation Tomodachi, and his time as a squadron commander during Operation Allies Refuge.

McLaughlin was one of several speakers during the AirVenture show, as well as Chief Master Sgt. Andrea Inmon, 54th Air Refueling Squadron senior enlisted leader. Inmon spoke on her Air Force journey and how to lead boldly from a higher purpose.

The 97th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services Flight also sent a team of three firefighters to support the air show by providing rapid response capabilities for all attendees.

On July 29, two of the Altus AFB firefighters, along with two firefighters from additional AETC installations, were the initial first responders to a fatal aircraft crash during the show. They were able to save two lives with the help of local firefighters who transported the injured to the hospital. Unfortunately, two lives were lost in the crash.

“Our training just kicked in,” said Tech Sgt. Jose Cancel, 97th CES fire station assistant chief. “We’re grateful we performed the way we did and saved at least two people’s lives.”

This event allowed Mighty 97th Airmen from all five groups to demonstrate their role in forging the next generation of mobility Airmen.