Home cooking: Airmen are happy to show off cargo planes

DOVER — The “Thunder Over Dover” air show and Open House is a home game to the many airmen at Dover Air Force base who are enjoying the chance to show off their workplace and the huge aircraft that keeps the military’s cargo moving.

While they realize the United States Air Force Thunderbirds are the featured attraction of the weekend, the airmen of the 436th Airlift Wing at Dover are more than happy to show off the C-5M Super Galaxy and the C-17 Globemaster III and answer questions about the massive aircraft.

The Dover-based cargo planes are among the highlights of the static display of airplanes that guests to the Open House can walk through and learn about, as is a Delaware Air National Guard C-130 that’s stationed in New Castle.

Capt. Joey Hinojosa was one of several airmen who were greeting visitors to the C-5, the world’s largest cargo aircraft, on “Military Family Day” at the air show on Friday.

“This was kind of my dream growing up,” Capt. Hinojosa said. “I remember my first time coming out here and seeing a C-5. I never thought I would actually be (flying one) and now I’m the one doing (the things) that I looked up to, so it’s pretty neat for me to be able to do this.

As the Thunderbirds head to the runway heat and burning jet fuel create a mirage during Family Day at Dover Air Force Base on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“I love just kind of looking at the kids who are not really realizing what they’re doing (inside the plane), some even struggle getting onto the airplane, it makes you realize how big it is. Then the kids who are old enough to talk to, well, every single one asks if you’re a Thunderbird pilot (laughs).”

Visitors to the C-5M Galaxy will learn facts such as: It is the Air Force’s largest strategic airlifter; it can carry more cargo farther distances than any other aircraft.

Also, with a payload of six Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs) or up to five helicopters, the C-5 can haul twice as much cargo as any other airlifter.

For 11-year-old Emily Goeke, whose family just recently was transferred to DAFB, the C-5 is her father — Maj. Robert Goeke’s — workplace.

“I think it’s really big and I like how they fly and how they study (in the cockpit on the flight deck),” she said. “I just think it’s really interesting.”

About a half-mile south on the ramp sits the C-17. It’s also a popular stop for people who want to check out a plane that routinely flies over the Dover skies.

“It feels good to have the public come see us,” said Airman Dakota Malthy, greeting people on the C-17. “I know they sometimes see us but they never get to see what we actually do, so this helps really demonstrate what we do every day.

“We don’t get a lot of chances to have everyone come out and see us, even our own families, because we’re just always so busy, so it’s really good. I’m glad we’re getting a chance to do this.”

The Delaware Air National Guard had a recruiting table set up at the tail end of its C-130.

Airman First Class Austin Jer-Don spent the day telling visitors all about the plane and what he does in the Air National Guard.

“It’s awesome. I’m having a great time,” he said. “There’s a lot of kids coming on here and enjoying themselves. It’s my job to make sure everybody stays safe and make sure they have a good time, too.

“It’s definitely awesome. I was talking to a guy earlier and he was talking to me about joining (the Air National Guard).”

Friday served as a reminder that Dover Air Force Base impacts a lot of people in the city.

In fact, its’ workforce consists of 6,400 military personnel: 3,900 active duty, 1,500 reservists and 1,000 civilians. It also supports around 5,100 family members.

Lt. Col. Ryan Orfe, who has been organizing Thunder Over Dover full-time since February, is appreciative of all the work the airmen have put into the Open House.

“We’ve got airmen from across the base volunteering for parking, security detail, the med tents, the concession stands, manning the aircraft and hospitality,” he said. “There’s a whole litany of stuff that guys and girls are volunteering for here on base to help make this happen.”

Capt. Hinojosa said getting the chance to answer questions about the C-5’s that he pilots does give him a sense of pride and recharges his batteries.
“It’s cool talking to people who actually understand what we do and seeing how much we appreciate what we do,” he said. “When we do it on a daily basis you don’t really realize how cool it is, I guess.

“What still kind of gets me is I’ll wake up one day and be over Turkey or Germany or someplace like that and then the same day I’ll be back here, saying ‘Hi’ to my wife.

“Just the capability of this airplane and how far it can go and how much we can move in a single day, that’s my favorite part.”

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