Flyovers, loops, rolls … and a surprise

DOVER — On a day full of high flying twists and turns, perhaps the best maneuver came on the runway.

Saturday’s Thunder Over Dover Air Show commenced with a parachute drop by the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command Black Daggers, one holding a package for delivery.

Upon receipt, air show director Lt. Col. John Trombetta handed the package to his unsuspecting girlfriend.

She opened it and discovered an engagement ring.
“I don’t know exactly what my words were,” Lt. Col. Trombetta said. “I know I told her I loved her and hoped she would marry me.”
Jennifer Regel answered “Yes” without hesitation.
“He turned around toward me with the bag and I just knew by the look in his eye what was coming,” said Ms. Regel, a structural engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And thus began an exciting day at Dover Air Force Base for thousands of spectators. A wide array of aircraft performances entertained with flyovers, loops and rolls, steep drops and climbs for a scheduled 4 1/2 hours.

At the same time, visitors roamed from static displays including gargantuan C-5 and C-17 transport aircraft, F-15 fighter, DHC-1 Chipmunk training plane, UH-1 helicopter and more.

Charlie Wallace typically watches the free show from his nearby home outside the gates, but decided to venture onto base this year.
“It’s nice to get a look at our military might and this event builds great community relations for the base,” he said. “There’s just a nice feeling when you’re here in the middle of it.”

The show begins.

The free event continues today from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
An air show veteran at other venues, Ocean View’s Fred Pohlman made his Thunder over Dover debut without any regrets.

“I’ve watched them at Ocean City with my feet in the sand but I love walking through here and seeing what the large planes are like up close and inside,” he said. “Usually you only see them flying by from high above, but here you get to see exactly how big they are.”

Choking up briefly, Vietnam War Army veteran George Gordy described his visit to watch the show at DAFB.
“It’s amazing, it’s heartwarming, it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen,” he said of being inside the military installation.

“I feel very safe at night knowing these guys are doing what they do. We need our Air Force, I know they saved our butts many times (in Vietnam.)”
Dover’s Jeff Beebe took it all in with a patriotic sense of pride.
“It shows us all how great this country’s military is and makes you proud to be an American,” he said.

Standing next to him was nephew Avery Stoken, who described it as “Unique. Dover is such a small place overall but then you see such a large area like the base here with so many planes and people. It’s kinda cool.”

With dreams of being a pilot some day, Dylan Cole, 14, said, “It’s really cool to be watching so many planes flying around.”

Maria Causey arrived with her two sons and said “I love it. I don’t get to see this on a daily basis so I love it.

“My oldest (age 15) really gets into the technical stuff (about how a plane flies and is built) and my youngest (age 3), he just likes to run around.”

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