Iceman Team "Soars into Solstice"

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Bryon McGarry
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Engines roared, voices soared and pyrotechnics blazed as the Iceman Team played host to the 2007 Soaring into Solstice Open House June 23 here.

Around 20,000 visitors witnessed F-16 and A-10 aerobatic displays, simulated U.S. Army helicopter airfield attacks and the end of an era in Alaskan aviation - all of which combined to broadcast the message of U.S. air and ground power loud and clear.

"We were thrilled to have such a great turnout," said Brig. Gen. Save Scott, 354th Fighter Wing commander. "This event provided a wonderful opportunity to showcase our U.S. military to the community that supports us."

Highlighting the Air Force's 60th anniversary theme of "Heritage to Horizons," a 3rd Wing F-15 Eagle from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage treated the audience to an opening ceremony flyby, followed closely behind by an Elmendorf F-22A Raptor. The dual flybys symbolized the changing of the guard, as the 3rd Wing's F-15 mission makes way for the F-22A and a new age of U.S. air dominance.

A local chapter in Air Force history also had its final pages penned, as the 355th Fighter Squadron and 18th Fighter Squadron held its formal flag-folding ceremonies. Lt. Col. Quentin Rideout, 355th FS Commander, and Lt. Col. Dieter Bareihs, 18th FS Commander, ended their final sorties by taxiing to the main stage and thanking the Iceman Team for making their stay in Alaska memorable.

Between aerobatic displays, event-goers were also treated to rocking summer sounds courtesy of Armed Forces Entertainment's own Maren and the Niki Barr Band. On a day that started out overcast and gloomily foreboding, the bands' infectious energy, high-speed delivery and sheer volume helped brighten spirits, and arguably, the weather. As the jams continued, the clouds broke and the party continued on in high fashion.

"We were ecstatic to have the bands play for us," said Loran Farrow, 354th Force Support Squadron. "They just brought a level of energy that made the day that much more enjoyable for all."

A huge array of static display aircraft ranging from local Air National Guard KC-135 refuelers to visiting C-17 cargo aircraft and even civilian privately owned fly-ins lined the Eielson tarmac, and event-goers young and old snacked, walked and stared into the sky as the day's events unfolded.

As the Alaskan summer sun loomed high above the horizon and visitors made their way to the exits, General Scott took the opportunity to thank the Iceman Team for making the 2007 Open House a soaring success.

"A lot of hard work went into making this happen and I'm extremely proud of the dedicated and energetic Icemen who gave their all to make it a memorable day," General Scott said. "To every member of the 354th Fighter Wing: Thank you for a great open house!"