Thunder Over Dover thrills Delmarva
By Staff Sgt. Aaron J. Jenne, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 27, 2017
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- More than 50,000 people visited Dover AFB for the 2017 Thunder Over Dover Open House and Airshow August 26–27.
The last time Dover AFB hosted an open house was in 2009, and the last time the community was invited onto the installation was 1994.
“Twenty years in the making, our airshow’s return to the main ramp was a overwhelming success thanks to the precision, enthusiasm and hospitality of our Airmen, sponsors and many more!” said Col. Ethan Griffin, 436th Airlift Wing commander. “Team Dover is proud to have shared the inspirational story of American airpower amidst several anniversaries, including the 70th of our Air Force, the 75th of our base and the 300th of our city. We’ll continue to ‘Aim High’ together.”
The event featured more than 20 aerial and ground performances from multiple military and civilian performers, as well as static displays of dozens of the Air Force’s most iconic aircraft for spectators to view up-close.
“It was an absolutely flawless event,” said Lt. Col. Todd Walker, 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 2017 Thunder Over Dover Open House director. “We were able to host 50,000 people and show them the history of Air Power. We got great farmers’ tans too.”
The show was highlighted by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team. The group performed multiple aerobatic maneuvers and precise formations to demonstrate the many capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the precision of Air Force pilots.
A C-5M Super Galaxy and a C-17 Globemaster III also stole the limelight, demonstrating their ability to move massive amounts of cargo to rapidly execute global mobility.
Jive Kirby of Wild Blue RV-8 Aerobatics and Jerry Conley of Vampire Aerobatics provided a different style of entertainment; looping, spiraling and tearing through the air in gravity defying feats.
The day ended with the Thunderbirds Recognition Ceremony, where they recognized Team Dover’s top performers.
There was something for everybody, military members and civilians alike, said Staff Sgt. Sergio Forsythe, Air Force Legal Operations Agency victims’ paralegal.
“I was stationed at Barksdale [Air Force Base, Louisiana] for my first four years. I’m from Arlington, Virginia, so I was away from my family,” Forsythe said. “Today, I was able to have my family come over and show them the planes and teach them a little more about the Air Force, our history and what we’re capable of. They totally enjoyed it. We had a blast, and we’re looking forward to attending another Dover airshow.”
It wasn’t just the performers or static displays that made the event a success, though, said Dover Police Department Cpl. Mark Hoffman. It was the exceptional Airmanship of the service members and volunteers who made the open house what it was.
“For an event to be held of that size – after not holding one for eight to nine years – it was run beautifully,” Hoffman said. “Every service member, volunteer and employee we encountered were extremely polite, personable and professional. We walked away absolutely amazed at how well this event was run, and I have heard the same from many others as well.”
Overall, the entire event was a huge success, Walker said.
“There’s no way the event would have gotten done without the City of Dover, Del DOT, the community and even the entire state of Delaware coming together to make it happen,” Walker said. “Everyone really came together to make sure we had an awesome and safe show. We had such incredible buy-in from the performers to the vendors and spectators. I’m hoping we get to do this again … a lot sooner than nine years.”