If planes need fuel to fly, air shows need Airmen to soar

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.—Capt. Mercedes Derby has always enjoyed air shows. Whether she was working or attending one, she has forever found them fun. She believes it’s interesting to find out how much goes on behind the scenes of one.

 

Being a Thunderbirds project officer, an operations officer and a squadron representative whilst doing her normal job as a pilot with the 9th Special Operations Squadron builds stress. But it doesn’t faze her fascination for the event, the second air show she’s ever worked.

 

“I have a new level of appreciation for not only the performers I’ve seen at air shows before, but also the people who have worked behind the scenes to make [them] happen,” Derby said.

 

Her unit will have a static aircraft set up for people to walk through, with air crew members stationed nearby to answer questions. They’re also flying in the 27th Special Operations Wing’s capability exercise, demonstrating the limits of both the crews and planes.

 

In order to ensure everything works as planned, units began preparations as early as 2017. For Airmen such as Capt. Paige Young, 27th SOS combat systems officer, that process has been stuck in the middle between other real world demands.

 

“I had a deployment in the middle of the six months of planning, so the demand got pretty high when I got back,” Young said. “I had to catch up to all of the timelines… as we near actual show time, it’s awesome to watch everyone step up and all the pieces fall into place.”

 

Having been a part of Cannon AFB’s last air show in 2016, Young has used her experience to further help in the planning for this year’s event. She’s worked with the high-flying Thunderbirds, local high schools and helped to put together a recognition ceremony for Cannon Airmen on Sunday; that isn’t even including her work within her unit.

 

“I think that air shows are a great way for us to open our gates and show the community what we work at every day to ensure this country’s safety and freedom,” Young said. “Even though I do this every day, it gives me a lot of pride to watch us perform for our neighbors, friends and families.”

 

The experience she carries with her into this air show helps Young teach others that, though the task seems monumental, the emotions and sense of accomplishment afterward will override that stress.

 

“I think, sometimes, the military just keeps on doing what it does and the outside world carries on with life until something happens—then we’re in the news again,” Young said. “It’s time for us to get in touch again, have a fun time and be proud of what we do every day.”

 

The 2018 Air Show, Space and Tech Fest kicks off this Saturday, May 26 and ends the 27th. For questions, contact the Cannon Air Force Base Facebook page or contact the office at 575-784-4131.