Air Force Week fuels up, takes flight in Philadelphia
By Capt. Renee T. Lillis, 111th Fighter Wing
/ Published May 23, 2008
WILLOW GROVE AIR RESERVE STATION, Pa., May 23 -- On a typical Friday afternoon Gary Feldman can be found moving from meeting to meeting, visiting schools or maybe talking with parents. But the Philadelphia School District regional support case manager was some place entirely different when a call came in around 2 p.m. today.
"Yeah, I can't talk right now. I'm in the belly of a KC-135. I'm doing a mission over Maryland," he said in a serious tone. "No, I really mean it," he added as he started to smile. "We're refueling some A-10's."
Feldman and 18 other civic leaders and media representatives got a birds-eye-view of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard mission, in an orientation flight hosted by the 111th Fighter Wing here and the 171st Air Refueling Wing out of Pittsburgh.
The flight was just one of many events that will take place over the next several days as Air Force Week kicks off in Philadelphia.
Air Force Weeks are a series of events across the country designed to expose citizens to the incredible people and power of the U.S. Air Force. It's also an opportunity to influence understanding and strengthen support for our Airmen serving worldwide. This year the locations are Philadelphia, Omaha, Neb. and Los Angeles.
Feldman says the first-hand experience was important to him because he sometimes gets questions from students who are interested in military and their parents. Plus, "It's an adventure. It's not something you get to do every day."
Most of the passengers described the military flight as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
But Stephen Manna, also of the Philadelphia School District, said it was the people that impressed him the most. "I mean, the refueling was great. But the people are amazing and there is just so much hospitality."
Air Force Week events in Philadelphia include parades, expos at various Philadelphia landmarks including Independence Hall, the Philadelphia Zoo, the Franklin Institute and AF Day at a Philadelphia Phillies game. It will culminate with the 2008 Air Expo featuring the Thunderbird demonstration team at McGuire AFB, N.J.