As pilot Kevin Coleman flew his plane across the field at the Scott Air Force Base airshow, “Turn Down for What” echoed across the base.
The lively party song accompanied Coleman as he gave an aerial performance, sweeping and spinning above the crowd at Scott. The crowd craned their necks to get a better view, wide-eyed, pointing as Coleman spun through the sky, sometimes just yards from the ground.
“Whoa, look at him go,” said 3-year-old Benjamin Burns as he watched. As the plane neared the ground, Benjamin’s mom picked him up so he could see better. His finger followed the plane as it flew across the field.
Benjamin is a big airplane fan, and Coleman’s aerial show was one of his favorite parts of the day, he said.
Using his hands, Benjamin wildly demonstrated the path Coleman’s plane took, his eyes occasionally darting back to the sky to check if any more jets were flying.
Benjamin and his family were just four of the thousands of people gathered at Scott to see the airshow Sunday. The crowds braved 90-degree temperatures, not letting the heat dampen their enthusiasm. They sought refuge in the shade under the fighter jets’ wings.
Retired Air Force pilot Gene Miller, 71, was one of the many veterans on the base for the show. As a former pilot, Miller said he still gets excited seeing all of the planes, especially the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
“The magic of flight is still there, even now,” Miller said. “It’s an exciting time for everyone ... The Thunderbirds bring most people here; they’re loud and impressive.”
A 20-year Air Force veteran, Miller said he loves being able to look at the old planes and learn about their history.
And for Russell Sanderson, 39, and Paul Weingartner, 12, being able to learn about the old planes and meet members of the Air Force was the best part of the show.
“I think it’s amazing just to get to meet members of our armed forces,” Sanderson said. “It’s humbling and amazing to see the technology that’s out there to protect the U.S.”
Talking to one of the Air Force airmen, Russell and Paul eyed the decorative paint and weaponry on one of the planes. Paul said the coolest part was knowing that these planes were real — not just elaborate replicas.
“It would be amazing if they could replicate this in a museum, but it’s really amazing that this is real deal stuff,” Paul said. “We even got to see a fighter drone.”
In addition to the show in the sky at the airshow, attendees could also walk around the base and see almost 30 fighter planes, some of which people were allowed to walk through.
This was Scott’s first air show in five years, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the base.