Eielson Air Force Base hosts Arctic Lightning Air Show 2021

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Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:47 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On July 30 through August 1, Eielson Air Force Base hosted its Arctic Lightning Airshow.

The event featured Demo Teams for F-16s and F-35s, and ended with a performance by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

According to Col. David Berkland, 354th Fighter Wing Commander, “This is absolutely a chance for us to give back a little bit to that community that has so graciously supported Eielson for many years, but in particular, in this last year that has been so challenging.”

After a practice round in front of a military audience on Friday, the Arctic Lightning Air Show held public performances on Saturday and Sunday.

Air Show Announcer Mike McFarland said, “Things are going all the time to defend our freedom and protect us, so it’s important that people get a chance to see that.”

A goal of the show is to get community members in touch with the military. “What’s going on in their local communities that you may not know about, because many people don’t get a chance to spend much time out on an air force base, or maybe not even know someone that’s in the military, so this is a great way for them to come and see what their tax dollars are going for, what they’re supporting, and how important the jobs that the people out here are doing,” McFarland Said.

Maj. Kristin Wolfe, pilot and F-35A Demonstration Team Commander, explained, “It’s really important to get out in front of the public and show them what the newest fighter jet’s doing. We’ve been doing that from Hill [Air Force Base] for quite awhile. We’re based out of Utah, but to be able to come up here to Alaska, where we’re standing at the 2nd Squadron already with the newest F-35s coming off the line, it’s really exciting to show them combat-ready jets, and show them a taste of what the airplane can do in the air.”

For many pilots, this is not their first rodeo. “We go up to airshows all over the world, so about 20 a year. I fly demonstration at each air show,” Wolfe said.

The show also featured drag races and parachuting. “We can’t do this without the community. We cannot do what we do here at Eielson, Berkland said, adding, “As the mission grows, our ties to the community become even more important. We don’t all live here at Eielson. Most of our people, in fact, live in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, so they shop and dine and worship and hunt and fish and have friends in the community.”

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