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Viper West Airmen begin airshow season

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Air Combat Command’s West Coast F-16 Demonstration Team, Viper West, is scheduled to begin its 2006 airshow season today in Yuma, Ariz.

The team will travel across the country and abroad to perform at nearly 30 airshows this year. To prepare for the season, the team undergoes extensive training during the winter months.

At least twice each week, the Viper West pilot and officer in charge, Capt. Dax Cornelius, practices high- and lowaltitude maneuvers in the F-16, while nine maintainers work to keep the aircraft safe and in peak performance.

“Members of Team Hill as well as people in the local community see Capt. Cornelius flying demo practices over base, but few understand what we are training for,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel May, a Viper West dedicated crew chief.

For this reason, Sergeant May is looking forward to the Viper West performance at the Hill Air Force Base airshow June 10-11. The team’s superintendent, Master Sgt. Jonathan Veal, is also looking forward to the Hill Air Show.

“It will be awesome to perform for the home crowd. We hope demonstrating the capabilities of the F-16 to the community and the 388th Fighter Wing will make them proud,” said Sergeant Veal.

In addition to performing, Viper West aims to contribute to the local community. Over the winter, the team has visited three local elementary schools and one children’s hospital to serve as ambassadors for the Air Force and brighten a child’s day. “When we hire members of Viper West, we look for Airmen with a quality of serving others about them,” said Sergeant Veal. Serving others can also come in the form of bringing the Air Force’s values and mission to communities who are hundreds of miles from a military base.

According to Sergeant Veal, his favorite airshows are, “not the big, but the small airshows.”

“Visiting small towns across America where people don’t know anything about the Air Force is very rewarding. Our demo might spark an interest in them.” For a complete Viper West show schedule, visit the team’s website: www.hill.af.mil/388fw/ViperWestLink.