Antique Planes and Tractors Huge Success at Sioux City Air & Ag Expo

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Wendy Ohl
  • 185th ARW/PA
The day dawned clear and cool Saturday, August 1, 2009, dispelling any concerns the night storms pounding the area may have raised. It was a going to be a beautiful opening day for the first ever Air / Ag Expo at the 185th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) in Sioux City, Iowa.

With over 40 pieces of agriculture equipment on display and 20 vintage and modern aircraft gracing the flight line at the 185th, there was a little something for everyone. People of all ages enjoyed climbing through some of the larger aircraft on display.

Flying demonstrations included a B-24 and B-25A bomber. The B-24 is special to the 185th history. During World War II, before the 185th existed, the airbase was used for B-24 bomber training. Actor Jimmy Stewart completed his pilot training here before going on to fly 20 combat missions toward the end of the war. This particular B-24A is the older of only two still flying, and is privately owned and operated by former B-24 pilots and crew.

Another performer was an A-10 "Thunderbolt" (commonly known as the "Warthog" due to its looks and low-to-the-ground build) demonstration team based out of Moody AFB, GA. The demo team puts on about 30 performances a year all across the country. The A-10s have a shark mouth painted on the nose to make it look more fearsome in battle. Combine the shark's teeth with the Gatlin gun protruding from the mouth, and the speed and agility of the "Warthog" and you have an efficient and effective fighting machine.

"This isn't the largest air show we've been to, but it isn't the smallest, either," Capt. Johnnie "Dusty" Green, pilot of the A-10 Thunderbolt. "The people here are really nice here. They've taken real good care of us."

Saturday's performance line-up also included a B-1 "Lancer." The B-1 is unique in several ways including its supersonic, long-range capabilities and in an emergency a portion of the entire cockpit would eject in a "pod" instead of individual ejection seats due to the concern with high-speed, high-altitude depressurization issues that may arise.

Static displays included a C-17 "Globemaster", a C-130J "Hercules", an AH-64 "Apache" helicopter, an E-3 AWACS "Sentry", a UH-60 "Black Hawk" helicopter and much more, including agriculture equipment from the early 1900's to current.

"The 185th is surrounded by agriculture here. Not too many places can say they have a bean field between the runways," stated Col. Brian Miller, commander of the 185th Air Refueling Wing and part-time farmer. "It just made sense to combine the air show with an ag expo since agriculture is such a large part of our lives here in the tri-state area."

Over 8,000 people, not including 185th ARW members, poured through the gates each day to enjoy a breezy day with lots of sunshine and moderate temperatures, and free entertainment beginning with a 185th ARW KC-135R fly by to start the performing portion of the show at noon.

Ross Gengler, 9, and his sister Beca, 8, were both in agreement that the A-10 "Warthog" was their favorite.

"I liked it when the plane flew by like they did during the war," stated Ross with a smile. "And when it did loops, too!" added sister, Beca.

"I think the vintage World War II aircraft are the best. It would be nice if they would manufacture a few more so they'd always be around," said Garrett Hanson, who brought his son Aidan to his first air show. "It was a great time, and the price of admission and food was right - just can't beat it!"

One agricultural display was provided by David Kilburg, father of Capt. Eric Kilburg, a pilot at the 185th ARW. David's father, Frank, bought the 1946 John Deere tractor when it was new. When the family farm went up on auction, he was notified the tractor was also included in the sale. Quick action on his part saved the family tractor from a trip to Texas. After a year and a half of restoration work, it was finally ready for shows.

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