Pilots have Great Falls ties; Malmstrom open house revised schedule today
Thunderstorms washed out the end of Saturday’s planned flying acts at the Mission Over Malmstrom Open House, but the event is back on today.
The U.S. Army’s Golden Knights and the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team weren’t able to fly Saturday night as a thunderstorm rolled in.
Today, the intercontinental ballistic missile base opens again to the public at 9 a.m. with a modified flying schedule today. [The updated schedule is at the bottom]
In the skies again today will be the Shetterly Squadron, a father and two sons trio of pilots with Great Falls ties.
Jeff and Joe Shetterly have been in planes since they were toddlers with their dad, Greg, who served in Vietnam.
“We grew up flying,” Jeff Shetterly said.
From 1980-83, the Shetterly family lived in Great Falls while Greg worked in commercial aviation on Gore Hill in a hangar next door to the one the brothers were standing in Saturday.
Jeff Shetterly attended Sacajawea Elementary and guessed there might be some people watching the show this weekend who were his schoolmates.
The brothers both got their pilots licenses as teenagers and when Joe, the younger brother, learned to fly, their mother did too. She’s a flight instructor and the narrator for their show.
Jeff Shutterly served in the Army from 1996-2001 and spent most of his time in Europe and the Balkans with the M1A1 Abrams tanks. For a while after the military, he was a medical device salesperson, but is now a commercial pilot.
Joe Shetterly is an Air Force reservist and still flies the A-10 Thunderbolt, otherwise known as the Warthog.
He flies under the call sign Rifle and is a commercial pilot for Delta.
The brothers both did their first solo flight at 16, the earliest legal age and are now seasoned professionals both on commercial planes and in aerobatic routines for airshows.
“Neither of us thought that’s where this was heading,” Joe Shetterly said of their early aviation days. “It’s a real amazing deal to love what you do for a living.”
During the show, they fly a 3-ship formation acrobatic routine in three very different aircraft, including a T-6, a trainer used by the U.S. during World War II.
It’s a newer routine for the trio and “ambitious,” Jeff Shetterly said.
In two weeks, the Shetterly Squadron will be at Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, Wis., the largest airshow of its kind in the world.
They support the EAA’s Young Eagles program, which gives free flights to youth to expose them to aviation early.
During that show, Joe Shetterly will fly in a super hero costume and then get out of the cockpit to talk to kids. He’ll be flying as Aviore, a superhero created by Stan Lee in 2017 to promote the spirit of aviation and the EAA’s Young Eagles program.
“We love people. Airplanes are a way to interact,” Jeff Shetterly said.
Also returning to the skies Sunday is the 40th Helicopter Squadron with a UH-1N Huey helicopters.
Staff Sgt. Marcus Washington and Capt. Christopher Boise were among the airmen performing the demonstration on Saturday.
Boise is a pilot and Washington is a flight engineer.
Boise said it was good to demonstrate their capabilities to the Malmstrom community and the general public. It was also an opportunity to show how they integrate with the ground forces, Washington said.
“They usually just see us overhead,” Boise said.
On Saturday, they flew low in front of the crowd and conducted a demonstration with the Tactical Response Force.
They used a scenario of an unauthorized vehicle on the runway.
Airmen on the Hueys disabled the vehicle’s engine block from the air, causing it to come to a stop.
One helicopter lands behind it, dropping off the TRF airmen while the other Huey provides top cover, then they switch places and then circle back to pick up the airmen and a simulated injured person from the vehicle.
Washington and Boise have both been at Malmstrom for about two years.
They love the Vietnam-era Huey, but are looking forward to the new helicopter coming their way in the near future.
Last fall, the Air Force awarded the first portion of a $2.38 billion firm-fixed-price contract to Boeing for the replacement helicopter, the MH-139.
Boise said the new helicopter will give them more capability and Washington said they’ll be getting about a 50 year technology upgrade.
The 40th also had a Huey static display where the public could climb in and out and talk to airmen about their mission. Kids were trying on helmets while their parents took photos in front of the Huey, they said.
“Little kids see us flying all the time, it’s cool for them to be able to interact with us,” Washington said.
They encouraged the public to attend the second day of Malmstrom’s open house.
“Come out and watch,” Boise said. “We’re happy to do it for you.”
The updated schedule for Sunday:
11:05 – Security Forces K-9 Demonstration
11:30 – US Army Golden Knights Streamer Drop
11:35 – USAF F-22 Pre Show Intro
11:40 – National Anthem
11:45 – USAF F-22 Raptor Demonstration
12:05 – US Army Golden Knights Mass Exit Show
12:15 – MiG Fury Fighters with Pyro
12:45 – Man vs Impossible
1:05 – Montana ANG C-130 Demonstration
1:15 – USAF UH1N Demonstration
1:25 – T-1 Jayhawk Demonstration
1:30 – Shetterly Squadron Demonstration
1:50 – ACEMAKER T-33 Demonstration
2:05 – Lightning Airshows 8-ship RV Flight
2:20 – US Army Golden Knights Streamer Drop
2:25 – Brian Correll Pitts S2C Aerobatics
2:40 – Man vs Impossible
2:50 – US Army Golden Knights Full Show
3:30 – USAF F-22 Raptor Demonstration with Pyro Wall of Fire