VIENNA, Ohio (WKBN) – Thunder Over the Valley will be great entertainment for thousands of people who come out to the show this weekend, but some of the visitors will take away something much deeper.
The air show is actually a big recruiting event for the Air Reserve.
Families bring their children to see the airplanes, but sometimes what they see at the show will spark what could be a life-long passion and a military career.
This weekend’s air show could be the first step down that path.
“It is easy to Google aircraft. It is easy to Google what people do, but this is your first chance to see hands-on. Touch metal, smell the inside of the aircraft and get a feel for what we do,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Shaffer, air show director.
The results of that experience are tangible. The Air Reserve expects to get 30 new recruits from this weekend’s events. Recruiters will be on site.
Along with planes that will be stationed on the tarmac, guests will be allowed to tour the air reserve station during their open house.
Areas that are usually closed off to the public will open for the air show.
The Vienna Air Reserve Station is the fourth largest employer in the valley with 2,000 people on staff.
“Rather than drive by and see our gate and our C-103s in the air, this is an opportunity to open the gates, bring them out and treat them to one heck of a show,” said Master Sergeant Bob Barko.
While the air reserve station is a big employer, many people are not sure of the work they do at the station. Lt. Col. Jeff Shaffer said he hopes the air show offers and education to those who want to know more.
“People don’t realize what we do. They see us flying. This is our chance to showcase to the community what we do and give a little history of what our mission is,” Shaffer said. “We just spend four months in the Middle East, and our crews were flying in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq. We do this all the time.”
Shaffer said planes from the air reserve station pick up army personnel and bring them to the edge of battle areas. Units are deployed from Vienna every 24 months.
Another service provided by the 910th Airlift Wind is aerial spraying, something that is unique to the Vienna station.
Thunder Over the Valley runs June 17-18. Admission and shuttle transportation is free.
The primary parking lot is at the old Delphi facility, 1265 North River Rd., Warren. If that lot fills up, drivers will be directed to the nearby Phantoms Fireworks, 3566 Larchmont Ave. NE. If those lots fill up, additional parking is planned at Kent State Trumbull and TCTC.
The first shuttle to the show runs at 8:30 a.m. and the last one will be at 2:30 p.m. Anyone not parked and on a bus by 2:30 p.m. will not be shuttled to the show.
The following roads will be closed between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday, June 15 – Sunday, June 18:
- Ridge Road between Aeropark Drive and King Graves Road
- King Graves Road between Ridge Road North and the State Route 11 overpass
Security will be tight at the show and security checks will be conducted in the parking lots before boarding the buses.