Ellsworth Air and Space Show underway, performers delighting attendees
BOX ELDER, S.D.– No shortage of people excited for day one of the 2022 Ellsworth Air and Space Show.
Thousands turned out for the first air show in seven years, and while the Navy’s Blue Angels Precision Flight Team was the main draw, there was a lot to keep everyone entertained. Among the performers, South Dakota’s own Vanguard Squadron.
“It’s a hobby that gets us to share our love of aviation with a large community of people,” said Left Wing Pilot Mark Ketcham.
“We also want to promote aviation with the youth here. Just inspire others to be either general aviation pilots or they can move on and do for a living,” said Lead Pilot David Myers.
Vanguard Squadron is out of tea. The three current pilots have flown together for about four years. The group itself has been together since the 1990’s and remains tied to its roots.
“We’re like the third generation of pilots flying for the Vanguard Squadron,” Ketcham said. “So it’s always been a South Dakota home state team.”
Next up on the schedule was demonstration flight featuring an F-22. A newer aircraft, the fighter stands unmatched in its speed, stealth, and offensive capabilities.
Its pilot, Major Joshua Gunderson, is no stranger to the impact air shows like this one can have on children in attendance.
Having grown up on them in his hometown of Tampa, Florida, he recalled the story of what led him to this role.
“I met the F-15 CDL pilot who was basically doing the job that I am doing right now when I was 11 years old,” Major Gunderson explained. “We took a picture, I didn’t think anything of it. And then 12 years later, I had gone to the Air Force Academy. There was an F-15 school and he was one of my instructor pilots teaching me to fly the F-15.”
And as he takes his talents to air shows across the country, he does it with gratitude for everyone and everything that brought him to the position.
“Doing this job is incredibly rewarding, and I’ve been very, very thankful and blessed to be able to do this.”