NEWS | June 14, 2011

Joint Task Force-Bravo personnel help spread goodwill at Honduran air show

By Capt. David McCain Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

An aircrew from the 1st Battalion 228th Aviation Regiment represented Joint Task Force-Bravo at the San Pedro Sula Air Show that took place at the Colonel Armando Escalon Espinal Air Base June 11-12.

The crew consisted of the pilots, Chief Warrant Officer Andy Musfeldt and Chief Warrant Officer Brian Hayes, and the Crew Chiefs, Sgt. Ernie Martinez and Spc. Ever Benavides who flew a UH-60L Blackhawk to the airfield to sit as a static display.

The crew was supported by 1st Lt. Justin Roberts, Contracting Officer from 12th Air Force, Master Sgt. James Chrivia, aerial events coordinator from 12th Air Force and Tech. Sgt. Thomas Arnett, Fuels Specialist from the 612th Air Base Squadron, here. In addition, the men and women of the Honduran Air Force ensured that every participant in the air show wanted for nothing.

"We have this air show to support a local hospital," said Lt. Col. Jorge Munoz, commander of Armando Escalon Espinal Air Base. "All the money that is raised goes right back to the hospital."

Colonel Munoz estimated more than 10,000 people showed up to view the participating aircraft, including a U.S. Air Force C-12, Honduran Air Force Bell 412, F-5, A-37, and a variety of experimental civilian aircraft.

One of the fan favorites at the air show was the acrobatic skills of international champion stunt pilot Patty Wagstaff. "My favorite part about flying here is meeting new people and being in a new country," said Wagstaff. "The people are great."

Skip Stewart, an equally skilled stunt pilot added to the excitement by flying his highly modified aircraft "Prometheus" and pushing the limits of aircraft abilities. Stewart wowed the crowd by flying inverted less than 10 feet above the ground.

Later in the day Wagstaff and Stewart combined skills and put on a spectacular show of near misses, which garnered cheers from the crowd.

"Watching patty and Skip fly together is something I will never forget," said Chief Warrant Officer Hayes.

Another crowd pleaser was the UH-60L Blackhawk from Soto Cano Air Base. Throughout both days there were lines of people trying to find shade from the scorching heat in the shadow of the rotor blades as they waited for their turn to sit in the pilot's seat, passenger compartment or get their picture taken with the crew.

Sergeant Martinez and Specialist Benavides were rarely seen away from the Blackhawk as they entertained the crowds with their smiles and energy.

"It was great seeing Benny and Marty interact with the crowd," said Chief Warrant Officer Hayes.

"I wanted to give a face to the helicopter that these people see flying over head every day. I wanted them to know what we do here and I wanted to build a relationship with the host country," he added.

In the heat of the sun, Honduran firefighters demonstrated how they would respond to a downed aircraft by rescuing a live pilot from the cockpit of an A-37 aircraft then extinguishing a simulated fire. After the demonstration, the firefighters sprayed hundreds of cheering onlookers with water.

A variety of government and civilian agencies, both from U.S. and Honduras, were involved in making the air show a success, including support from U.S. Embassy officials.

"The air show started years ago when I was the commander here and it has grown bigger every year," said Col. Rommel Jimmy Ayala Cerrato from the Honduras Air Staff.