Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A-10 pilot returning to Tullahoma for air show

by Staff Report
The Tullahoma News and Guardian
June 13, 2011

When an A-10 Thunderbolt II takes to the skies over Tullahoma July 1, it will be a familiar sight from the cockpit for Air Force Capt. Joe Shetterly.

When Capt. Shetterly got his first active-duty assignment eight years ago, it was at Arnold Air Force Base. He arrived on the weekend of the Centennial of Flight Celebration air show in 2003.

Shetterly spent about a year at Arnold AFB before going into undergraduate pilot training. During that time, he spent time at the airport dropping skydivers out of a Beech 18 — a plane his father used to fly night freight on, and one he always wanted to fly.

Today, Capt. Shetterly is officer in charge of the Air Combat Command's A-10 Demonstration Team. He's responsible for showcasing the A-10 at air shows around the world.

His demonstration will be one of the many sights to see July 1 at the 2011 Kiwanis Fireworks and Air Show at his old stomping grounds: the Tullahoma Regional Airport.

The A-10 demonstration is part of AEDC's celebration of the Independence Day holiday as well as the center's 60th birthday.

The Kiwanis club has been putting on an Independence Day fireworks show for 42 years, according to Independence Day Celebration committee chairman Mike Rutherford. Two years ago, it was canceled because the location at Tullahoma High School's football field was condemned.

The club approached the airport about hosting the event, but the only way it could be done was if there was an air show component. From there it grew into an event that was attended by an estimated 7,000 people last year, Rutherford said.

"It's a case of where the tail is now wagging the dog," he said. "I think maybe people know us better for the air show now than they do the fireworks, which is fine. It's all to celebrate Independence Day."

Arnold AFB's involvement the last couple of years has been limited to loaning fencing and other equipment for the show, but for the base's 60th anniversary Kiwanis club members asked AEDC commander Col. Michael Panarisi if the base would like to contribute to the show.

"When he gave a stamp of approval, that greased the skids for us to start finding acts to perform in the show," Rutherford said.

Murray King, AEDC's flight systems plant asset manager, is also helping with the air show coordination and has helped the Kiwanis with past shows. He said everything came together to make what will be a memorable base contribution to the air show.

"This year it was just a perfect match that our 60th anniversary came up, and the A-10 had accepted the invitation to come to the show," he said.

Another special outcome is that Shetterly will get to fly in an air show with his father, who will be giving a demonstration of a DR-107, one design experimental aircraft that father and son worked on for more than a decade.

Also, during the show Shetterly's A-10 will fly in formation with a P-51 in a heritage flight that commemorates the history of aviation.

"It's choreographed to music with a narration provided by Air Combat Command," King said. "It's very nice. It'll wet your eyes."

Gates at the airport open at 3 p.m. July 1. The event is free and open to the public, but Kiwanis will take donations after the event. Concessions will be for sale, but attendees may bring their own coolers. People also may bring lawn chairs, tents and umbrellas. No glass bottles or alcohol are allowed, and no pets will be allowed in with the exception of service animals.

There will be live music and several aircraft on display. AEDC will have two tents set up with information about the center and the A-10's history.

Festivities kick off at 6 p.m. with the pledge of allegiance. Fireworks are expected to take place around 9 p.m.

King said while it's not on the same scale as some of the air shows he organized in the last decade, he believes it will be a memorable experience.


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