There will be a man-made storm in the skies of St. Joseph this weekend that the 139th Airlift Wing is hosting.
The highly anticipated Sound of Speed Airshow will display the Navy’s F-18 Hornets, better known as the famed Blue Angels. But Thursday another team, the Air Force’s F-16 Viper Demo team landed two planes at Rosecran’s Memorial Airport.
“My mom and dad both grew up here in St. Joe — graduated from Benton High School, and I have an aunt and uncle that still live here in St. Joe and I have a cousin who lives here in St. Joe,” Col. Brian Jackson said.
Jackson attended Pershing Elementary School as a child. In 2017, he was appointed the 20th Fighting Wing Commander at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. He will be in attendance catching up with family this weekend.
The Viper Demo pilot tasked with displaying the Air Force’s air superiority is Major John Waters, callsign Rain. He talked about how he plans to do that.
“I’ll do a max performance climb, if the weather allows for it, so I’ll go from 300 feet to 3 miles in a matter of about 9 seconds, so you can just see the raw power,” Waters said. “The F-16 weighs in this configuration 2,800 pounds and I have 30,000 pounds of thrust so actually going to accelerate going straight up. So, I think, no matter who you are, you’re usually impressed with the fact that it’s just raw power, and American ingenuity, at its finest.”
Those moves can’t be handled without rigorous training on the body.
“So, as we stand here with just one G pulling us to the center of the earth, but I’ll command 9 G’s — upwards of 10 times throughout the demonstration. So I weigh 200 pounds — it’s like having 1,800 pounds of force exerted on my body,” Waters said.
The 139th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Ed Black remembers falling in love with aviation as a kid, and he’s excited to host the Blue Angels as it’s been eight years since they were last in St. Joseph.
“You’re going to have some of the best pilots in the world here this weekend, demonstrating the capabilities — some really cool aircraft,” Black said.
He credited himself as a C-130 Hercules pilot that hasn’t done a lot of “loops and barrel rolls” in his career, but regardless Col. Black is proud to host the air show over St. Joseph’s skies.
“The 139th Airlift here at Rosecrans — most of our members are part-time members here after they spend the day at work and then they come out and serve,” Col. Black said. “I just want to say thank you to all the employers in town that employ one of our guardsmen, all the family members that support a guardsman.”