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Military Open House
The MiG 15, MiG 17 and FJ-4 Fury Fighters, perform the world's only 3-jet warbird Dog Fight during Montana's Military Open House. The FJ-4 Fury pictured was built in 1958 and is the last one flying in the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Cortney Paxton)
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Military open house proves successful

Posted 8/10/2011   Updated 8/10/2011 Email story   Print story


by Airman Cortney Paxton
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

8/10/2011 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Montana's "Big Sky" was a little more crowded than usual July 30 and 31. Several pilots took to the skies to demonstrate, to thousands of Great Falls community members, the capabilities of several types of military aircraft.

With the help of clear skies and many selfless volunteers - including many Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen - Montana's Military Open House was a success for everyone involved. People from all over Montana gathered at Gore Hill to witness decades of military airpower.

The "Flight Over the Falls" show included appearances by Gary Rower flying the Stearman with Buck Roetman in the Christen Eagle II; Lee Lauderback in the historic World War II era P-51 Mustang; the A-10 Thunderbolt II; MiG 17, MiG 15 and FJ-4 Fury Fighters; and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornets lead the Marine-powered, jet-assisted C-130, affectionately named "Fat Albert." The audience attending Saturday's performance also had a chance to witness 'The Spirit of Montana,' a B-2 Spirit or Stealth Bomber, as it made a pass on its trip home to Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.

"The general public doesn't get to see the Navy and Marine Corp operate on a daily basis," said 1st Lt. David Tickle, Blue Angels pilot and show narrator. "There's not a large Marine Corp presence or Navy presence here in Montana, so for us to be able to drop into the backyards of America and showcase the pride and professionalism of the Navy and Marine Corp is a great opportunity and great experience for us."

Along with the performers in the sky, the event featured many static displays of military and civilian aircraft and vehicles on the ground. People in attendance were allowed to sit in, and test out the features in most of the displays while their operators were available to answer any questions.

By the end of the weekend, spectators left Gore Hill with a taste of some of the best equipment and personnel the military services have to offer. The experience they took home is something they will remember for years to come.

"I just thought the whole thing was absolutely amazing," said Cade Habel, 12, a spectator. "It's great for us kids to get out and see all of these wonderful things. I don't know how to describe it; it's just truly an amazing experience."

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