The Sky is the Limit - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Large crowds enjoy Waterloo air show


Above the roar of the jet engines, one word was heard over and over at the Waterloo Regional Airport Saturday -- "Awesome!" It's about the only way to best describe Thunder in the Valley.

"As humans, we defy the laws of gravity and we fly, and these guys come out here with super powers and do crazy stunts, it's just neat." said Sean Harn, who traveled from Fairbank.

"When they get low on the ground, they look like they're going to crash!" noted nine-year-old Grace Richter.

The opening display -- the U.S. Army Black Daggers, paying tribute to the military with a pair of parachutists carrying the American Flag.

"The first thing was the best thing," said Dave Peters from Hudson. "We paid for the ticket with the first show -- the parachute, the planes coming around."

Many folks came prepared for a lot of noise. But some kids said it's not as loud as they expected.

When we asked five-year-old James Curtis Nagle if it was getting loud he said, "just a little. Just one is really loud."

Between the stunt pilots, a fly-by from a B2 stealth bomber, and a very loud jet-powered school bus, there was a lot going on at the show. But everyone was really there to see the Thunderbirds. What some didn't realize, is the Thunderbirds spend more time on the ground than in the air.

They spent hours signing autographs and talking to kids, and kids at heart, in front of the F-16 Fighter Jet on display. You could tell just by looking at the youngsters crowded around -- to them, the Thunderbirds are heroes.

"I think they go way fast!" said eight-year-old Gavin Richter from Hudson.

Major John Gallemore, in his second year as the Thunderbirds Right Wing Pilot, recalled standing in their shoes, looking up in the sky, and dreaming.

"My dad was a fighter pilot, and for me, just the opportunity to follow in his footsteps and serve my country was really my motivation to join the Air Force and become a pilot," he said.

There are a lot of kids at the show hoping to follow in Gallemore's footsteps.  Curtis Nagle, for one, is hoping to do it in a "yellow plane."

"We are here to inspire that next generation. No just to join the military, but to do something big. Dream big, do something big with their life. And that's really our job," Gallemore said.

As you watch the kids with model planes in hand, and eyes in the air, it's clear they are learning the sky is the limit.

Thunder in the Valley continues Sunday, August 28th.  For more information on tickets, parking, and air displays, click here.

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