All-women air show thrills crowd at Hillsboro Airport
Hillsboro resident Beckett Kangas, 9, was dressed for the occasion in his flight suit as he and his mom, Brandi Kangas, attended the Oregon International Air Show on Saturday, May 21. This year's show, held May 20-22, was titled "She Flies With Her Own Wings."
The suit was a little on the short side though.
"It's from his eighth birthday; that's why they look like capris," Brandi said.
Beckett Kangas was excited to see the F-18.
"I just really like flying," he said. "I like to see the cool stunts."
The two were among the thousands enjoying the show, which was held in beautiful sunny weather. The flyers, and most of the ground crew, showed off the prowess of women in the field of aviation, military and civilian.
"We just met a female in her helicopter with her big shoulders," Brandi Kangas said. "She looked like a swimmer, but she played water polo. It's amazing, the empowerment. We were just talking to a guy over here, and he said he was just here for support. It's all female pilots and crew. It's awesome."
There was a crowd touring the EP-3 Aries, which was the largest airplane at the show on static display.
"We typically don't go to air shows," Lt. Cmdr. Colleen Johnson said.
Johnson, a Naval Academy graduate, pilots the large airplane, which had to get special permission to land at the Hillsboro Airport. It's just one of 14 in the country and has 24 crew members. Johnson, who is a senior instructor, has 2,200 hours in the aircraft, which is based on Whidbey Island.
"It's really rewarding (to be here)," Johnson said.
Brittany Vander Meer, engine shop, and Violet Scholze, structural, were part of the ground crew for the Oregon Air National Guard 142nd Fighter Wing F-15 Eagle squadron based in Portland. The Portland residents believe women pilots and military members are pretty common.
"There have actually been women in the military for a while now," Vander Meer said.
Lt. Cmdr. Martina Hill also feels like female pilots are well established in the military. She was giving tours of the MH-60R Navy Seahorse anti-submarine helicopter, which is based in San Diego when not on deployment with the USS Carl Vincent. She's been flying the aircraft for 13 years. She said there are enough female pilots to easily fill all the spots in the air show, even with last-minute deployments.
"When I first started doing this, people would ask me if I was the stewardess," she said. "I haven't heard that question once today."
Not all the flyers were military. Melissa Burns performed acrobatics in her Edge 540 and accompanied the Misty Blues skydivers during their drops.
Vicky Benzing amazed spectators with daredevil stunts in her Extra 300 and then her 1940 Boeing Stearman. Anna Serbinenko also painted the sky with smoke while piloting her SuperD painted in the colors of her native Ukraine.
Military pilots Maj. Kristin "Beo" Wolfe (F-35A Lightning II Demo Team), Capt. Aimee "Rebel" Fiedler (F-16 Viper Demo Team) and Lt. Amanda "Stalin" Lee (F/A-18/F Super Hornet) thrilled spectators while showing off the capabilities of their military jets.
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