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Spirits soar during 49th Yuma Air Show

By Pfc. Sean Dennison | | March 31, 2011

The aroma of sweets and barbecue mingled with the smell of jet engine fuel and exhaust on the station’s flight line Saturday. Laughter and excited chatter could still be heard even over the roar of aircraft passing by. Civilians in shorts and T-shirts chatted easily with service members in full uniform. It was indeed the annual Yuma Air Show.

The air show, in its 49th consecutive year, exceeded last year’s attendance by drawing more than 40,000 spectators who flocked to see more than 30 aircraft and other displays provided by both military units and private owners and more than 20 demonstrations by various aircraft and civilian performers.

The event is the fruit of combined efforts from station personnel, civilians, visiting units from other services, veterans and the participation of the audience.

“It’s the local community that really puts on the air show,” said David Koopman, the station’s Marine Corps Community Services director. “It’s a good way to see military aircraft and see what they do. It’s an excellent example of a community working together.”

Highlights included Marine Corps Installations-West commander Maj. Gen. Anthony Jackson presiding over the promotion ceremony of Cpl. Andres Amaya, a Yuma native, the Red Bull Air Force Skydiving Team and a simulated World War II dogfight.

“I’m proud,” said Amaya, station administration clerk. “For me it was something special when I got pinned on.”

For those who preferred to keep their eyes on the ground, the flight line was populated with displays of different aircraft and ample entertainment. Food stands, games and booths dealing in various hobbies, such as vintage cars and belly dancing, were available to air show patrons as well.

The day culminated in the air show’s first Marine Air-Ground Task Force demonstration. The event allowed spectators a glimpse of how the aviation combat element of a MAGTF works. Pilots and participants treated the audience to simulations of rotary- and fixed-wing aerial refueling, close-air support, Humvee transportation and troop insertion/extraction.

“I enjoyed watching the different planes in the air,” said Trinelle Townson, air show spectator. “I think it’s a good thing to see what the military has to offer so we can come out and enjoy ourselves.”

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