To honor and remember: Local Missouri residents celebrate at 30th annual Salute to Veterans airshow

Hundreds of families headed to the Columbia Regional Airport on Sunday, May 27, 2018 to watch military aircraft and parachuting teams take to the skies. Saturday and Sunday’s airshow and parade marked Salute to Veterans Corporation’s thirtieth year of hosting events to praise and thank veterans, living and dead, for their service and sacrifice. “We are so honored and excited to host this event” said Jessica Houston, Media Coordinator for Salute to Veterans.

This years show featured the United States Air Force A-10 II Thunderbolt aerial demonstration team for the first time since 2010. “It’s a full time job for up to two years” said Cody Wilton, a pilot of an A-10. “We do about 20 shows a season, which usually starts in mid-February.” Smiles crossed the faces of both young and old as planes roared down the runway every thirty minutes or so. Additionally, the pilots shared the skies with the United States Army Special Operation Command parachute demonstration team, Black Daggers. This USAOC group has members from several Special Operation Forces including the 528th Sustainment Brigade, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command. “We practice every week, we have to make sure our landings are exact and scaled properly..” said Sargent First Class Nicholas Betty. Betty is a Special Forces Weapons Sargent and is in the last two years of his service. “This is sort of my early-retirement gig. It’s a lot of fun and the guys are great.”

Twelve honored guests were celebrated this year, a group made of both active and retired servicemen. Families applauded and cheered for all members of service and their families, passing by and saying “Thank you for your service” as the sun shone down on military grade aircraft on display and the various information tents for branches of the armed forces. As Memorial Day approaches, members of the local community will hold veterans in high regard and have immense gratitude for all those who have served.

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Russell and Susanne M., right, find some shade under a 290 aircraft while observing the pilots take off on Sunday May 27, 2018. Hundreds of people brought out their lawn chairs and blankets to mark their territory where they joyfully watched the demonstration teams take to the air.
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“My dad served in World War II,” said Mary Potzmann as she served snacks and drinks to the airshow crowd on Sunday May 27, 2018. “We grew up in Iran after the war ended..  he was nearly an English teacher for Iranian Soldiers, even though he didn’t talk much in his private life.” Potzmann and her husband have attended the airshow every Memorial Day weekend for 19 years.
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Pilot Cody Wilton, left, poses in front of his A-10 aircraft on Sunday May 27, 2018. “I used to go to airshows as a kid all the time,” said Wilton. “My parents served in the Navy, so I went in a different direction.” Wilton took to the air at 1:20PM on Sunday.
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Cadet Hope Adamson, right, 16, works the information booth with fellow cadets for Civil Air Patrol. “I joined when I was 14,” said Adamson. “I want to go into the ROTC program at Texas A&M when I go to college.. I am glad my brother recommended this program to me, it’s a great way to see if military life is a good fit for you.” The patrol hosts weekly meetings for members, ages 12 to 19, to develop leadership skills and test-fly potential careers.
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Black Dagger parachute team member Steve Travers kicks off the Salute to Veteran’s airshow on Sunday May 27, 2018. He flew through the sky with the stars and stripes of the American flag billowing in his wake as planes circled the airspace above him.

Self-Critique

I am extremely pleased with my work on this project. I was pleasantly surprised at the responsiveness of Jessica Houston, the media coordinator for the show. She was able to set me up with an interview of Cody Wilton, and everyone else I talked to was happy to converse with me over their experience and connection the the various service branches of the United States.

The lighting was extremely challenging as I was there from about ten to twelve, right in the heat of direct sunlight. However, I think I made the best of the situation by using some shaded areas. I also wish I had gotten some tighter detail shots. I am happy with my wide scene setters and portraits, but I feel as though a detail would have added to my overall story composition.

Additionally, the crowds of people were somewhat challenging. I love my portrait of Wilton but the bright colors of the people observing the plane are distracting to me. I am unsure as to how I could have prevented this, but I tried to make do with the situation.

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