JBER gathers at aviation event

  • Published
  • By Maj. Carla Gleason
  • 477th Fighter Group public affairs
Planes, planes and, well, more planes.

An F-22 Raptor and a C-17 Globemaster from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson join more than 200 other aircraft as part of this year's Great Alaska Aviation Gathering May 2-3 at the Ted Stevens International Airport.

"It's a great opportunity for us to kind of show off what we do the public," said Maj. David "Chappy" Balmer, an Air Force Reserve pilot from the 302nd Fighter Squadron who flew the Raptor in from JBER following a short training sortie. "I think [people will] get a great perspective of how these planes compare to the other aircraft out here," said Balmer.

"This tradeshow is the Alaska Airmen's Association's largest community outreach program, and it provides us an opportunity to educate the public about the crucial role aviation plays in Alaska and its importance to the state's economy," said Dee Hanson, executive director of the Alaska Airmen's Association in a recent interview.

As is the case with many community events here, JBER total force Airmen came together to showcase our varied missions at this annual event. Security forces members, maintainers and pilots from the 176th Alaskan Air National Guard, active duty members from the 3rd Wing, pilots, maintainers and security forces members from the 477th Fighter Group and recruiters from each component participated in the show to talk about the Air Force and its contribution to the community.

"I think it's important to Alaska that we're here because it gives members of the community, especially the youth here, job prospects and a way to give back," said Technical Sgt. Justin Klein, 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flightline expeditor. "We all live here in the community and we work together to make it a better place."

JBER hopes to showcase some of that operational prowess during the gathering.

"A lot of work goes on behind these planes," said Klein. "Hundreds of maintainers and support staff work around the clock to ensure the aircraft are operational and ready to go."

"People who come out will get to talk to some of the people that get to put hands on these planes every day, working on them, maintaining them, deploying with them, day to day operations," said Klein.

This is the eighteenth annual aviation gathering in Anchorage and, though budget constraints kept the military from participating over the past couple years, this marks the eighth year JBER has participated.  The show, sponsored by the Alaska Airman Association, attracts more than 23,000 pilots and aviation enthusiasts from around the world.