Air show puts Airmen in public's eye

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Shawn J. Jones
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The Wings Over Wayne Air Show provides community members a close-up look at air power and the Airmen who make it happen. That same close-up look provides Airmen an opportunity to positively influence public opinion by presenting themselves as professional warriors. 

While the majority of spectators that will flood the base May 12 come to see the aerial performances, the impression they leave with will be shaped by the individual Airmen they encounter - for better or for worse. 

The public's impression of Airmen can directly shape the support Team Seymour receives from its community. The 4th Fighter Wing is fortunate to have supportive civilian neighbors. The Goldsboro community has been critical to the success of the wing's mission since the base opened in 1942. 

There are other military installations that do not receive the enthusiastic community support that Team Seymour does. Servicemembers from those installations do not receive the warm welcome in downtown establishments like Airmen do here. That relationship should not be taken for granted. 

Public opinion's impact on Airmen is not just felt at restaurants or grocery stores - it can affect the mission of the entire wing. Our F-15E Strike Eagles are powerful birds of prey, but they are not silent warriors. The sound of freedom can truly disturb our neighbor's peaceful summer evening on the front porch, sipping sweet tea - but rarely does the wing receive noise complaints. There are fighter wings who must tip-toe around their flying schedules just to keep their local communities mollified. 

To maintain and enhance the wing's relationship with the local community, every Airman at the show, whether they are on or off duty, needs to act as a host and a facilitator to our guests. Airmen should engage community members, some of whom will have had very little contact with Airmen prior to the show, with explanations on how our wing's Airmen contribute to the Global War on Terror. Spectators should be educated that Airmen are masters of air superiority - the last time an American Soldier, Sailor or Marine was killed by enemy aircraft was during the Korean War, over half a century ago. 

Airmen should go out of their way to relay their Air Force experiences to our air show guests. They should feel free to describe the aircraft, their duty position, the training they receive and the lifestyle of the Air Force. 

The display of air power will undoubtedly impress our neighbors in the community. Our Airmen should do the same. A courteous, professional Airman can influence public opinion about the 4th Fighter Wing - and the Air Force in general - as much as an aircraft's barrel roll.