By - Cadet Carter Walker, AFROTC
A group of about 30 AFROTC cadets from Detachment 003, located at the University of Houston, recently had the opportunity to volunteer at the Wings Over Houston airshow in October.
Wings Over Houston is an annual airshow hosted at Ellington Field just outside of Houston, which attracts thousands of visitors. Throughout the weekend the airshow puts on a dazzling display of aerobatics, pyrotechnics, and an amazingly wide array of aircraft.
The cadets of Detachment 003 were able to watch all of this while volunteering at one of the many vendor stands spread across the tarmac. Their primary task was to sell hot dogs, sausages, and a variety of other refreshments which raised over $500. However, in between serving customers the cadets could be found looking up at the skies, taking in the spectacle above them.
The day started off with stunt performers pushing their small planes to the absolute limit. After each act it seemed as if there was nothing that could possibly top it, yet the next performer continuously managed to one-up it with something even more impressive.
However, the day only escalated from there as spectators were soon treated to bone-rattling fly-bys from planes such as the F-18 Super Hornet and the F-16 Flying Falcon. Each pushed their respective aircraft to the limit in a series of both high and low speed passes.
After that came “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” in which A6M Zeros, D3A Vals, and B5M Kates all circled above the audience in an intense reenactment of Pearl Harbor. Fiery explosions accompanied each pass, shaking the ground and eventually casting dark clouds of black smoke across the field before the Japanese planes were finally chased away by the P-40 Warhawks.
The rest of the day was jam-packed with similarly impressive performances, ranging from reenactments of the dogfights over Vietnam featuring MiG-17s and F-4 Phantoms, to a wide assortment of other historical planes from the Commemorative Air Force including B-17 Flying Fortresses and P-51 Mustangs.
Finally, the day was capped off by an awe-inspiring display from the USAF Thunderbirds. They passed over us in a series of wingtip-to-wingtip formations and high-G turns which became increasingly complex. This culminated in a final breathtaking maneuver, in which all six aircraft approached the crowd head-on before fanning out directly overhead.
Overall, Wings Over Houston was an incredible experience, in which cadets were not only able to volunteer for a worthy cause but also witness a spectacular airshow in the process.