Wings Over McConnell Air Show Helping to Inspire Next Generation

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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The roar of the planes over McConnell Air Force Base is familiar to Wichita's Mack Curry.

"I retired here in 1995. I was in the Air Force 24 years," Curry said.

The sound is also familiar to his daughter who has moved wherever her father's career took them.

"It's nice to come back and say, 'Oh, I remember that plane, and I remember that plane,'" Sherol Curry said.

Now, Mack is hoping to pass the appreciation of these technologically advanced aircraft on to his grandchildren, Alexander and Tylin.

"It inspires me because maybe I would want to be in the Air Force," Tylin Curry said.

That's part of the reason McConnell Air Force Base hosts an open house, featuring a show by the Thunderbirds, the Air Force's premier aerial demonstration team.

"The jets, the static displays hopefully get people to think, 'Wow, that's really neat, I'd like to be a part of that team,'" said Joseph Kays, Commander of the 349th Recruiting Squadron based at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Okla.

The audience for that message: 57,000 people in 2010, McConnell representatives said. More people are expected to attend this year. Many of those attending represent the next generation thanks to the family-friendly atmosphere and free admission.

"Hopefully, we are showing them in a very constructive way that the Air Force is out there doing the mission the American public has charged us to do," Kays said.

He says the Air Force is also hopefully showing youngsters the exciting opportunities that await them. The show is another way for parents with a military background to inspire their children to follow in their footsteps.

"I think it's important for him to know what's going on in the military and maybe he'll be in the military someday," Derby's George West said of his grandson Zachary.

"It gives them something to dream about and goals if they decide to be in the military," said Rick Courchanie of the Cheney area about his daughter, Celine Courchanie, and stepson, Caleb Blasi.

Judging from the reactions of Mack Curry's grandchildren, it was mission accomplished Saturday.

"It was cool, I like how the planes did their turns," Tylin Curry said. "It was fun, very fun."

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