The 514th AMW Showcase C-17 in Dulles Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display

  • Published
  • By SSgt Sean M. Evans
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

There are countless ways for friends and family to spend a beautiful Saturday, but a day that includes up close experiences with military aircraft and their crew is a kind of experience that doesn’t occur on just any weekend. Hundreds of families enjoyed such an opportunity to see several different aircraft at the Innovation in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, June 15, 2019. 


The Smithsonian hosted the annual event that included displays of various helicopters, vintage cars, and military and civilian aircraft. The largest aircraft present was a C-17 Globemaster III crewed by Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 514th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 732nd Airlift Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing. 


The Airmen flew out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, the day before the event so that they could be present to showcase the aircraft and answer any questions about the plane they fly and about the Air Force Reserve. 


For some of the 514th AMW crew members, this was their first air show.


“This is actually the first airshow I’ve ever done”, said Senior Airman John Bresch, a loadmaster with the 732nd AS. “It was really cool, it was very nice to do community outreach, to get people interested in the plane, in the Air Force, and flying.” 


Others had already been in numerous air shows. 


“I do one or two airshows a year”, said Senior Master Sgt. Shawn R. Reynolds, a loadmaster with the 732nd AS. “I’ve always liked interacting with the public, especially the kids, they’re the best.”


The air crew particularly enjoyed interacting with enthusiastic guests who were fascinated to find out how the plane operates.  


“This air show was special because it was a lot of the Smithsonian museum crowd who already love airplanes so you get a lot of intelligent questions”, said Capt. Thomas G. Beltz, a C-17 Globemaster III pilot with the 732nd AS. “Sitting in the cockpit, talking to people all day long is really rewarding because a lot of people don’t get to see the cockpit of an aircraft, or what it actually does, or what we do every day, so it’s cool to bring that to the community.” 


One family the crew had the opportunity to speak with included Audra Senft and her two sons, Jacoby and Matthew. 


“They both love planes and are interested in pilots and the fact that they answered all my sons’ questions is great because it takes patience to answer that many questions”, said Senft. “They like being able to see the inside of planes that they would never get the chance to see otherwise.”


Air shows such as this provide an effective approach towards outreach and public relations between the military and the community. 


“That’s what it’s all about,” said Reynolds. “Getting out there in the public eye, telling them what we do, and showing them where their tax dollars are going.”


“Inspiring people to come fly, that’s what it’s all about”, added Beltz. “It’s the best public relation move you can ever make; to go to an airshow and show people what we do every day, to put a face to the name of the Air Force.”


Inspiring a future generation of pilots was what the Airmen were excited to do. 


“It’s one thing to see a video, but to be able to walk in and see the plane, talk to the pilots, to the loadmasters, and talk to other air crew jobs for other planes so they can actually get a sense of what the Air Force mission is,” said Bresch. “I believe that if more people can experience this at a younger age, the more likely it is that one of those kids out there today will be flying this aircraft many years from now.” 


Perhaps this experience will have that kind of influence on the future of the Air Force and for children like Jacoby and Matthew. 


“Since they have an interest in planes and pilots, this event helps keep them interested”, Senft said. “They always have questions and even have books about being a pilot. I’m glad we found out about it.”