Most Viewed Stories
Special needs students get sneak peek at Yuma Airshow
About 60 special needs students got an early sneak peek on Friday at some of the exhibits and performers who will be at Saturday’s 50th annual Yuma Airshow, which also marks the 100th anniversary of Marine aviation and air-ground force capabilities.
“This is something we try to do every year. We are lucky to be able to do this,” said Col. Robert Kuckuk, commanding officer at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. “(The students) get to come out here and have sort of a one-on-one. For those young people who may have difficulties in crowds or some other special needs, we want to help accomodate them if we can.”
The students, who were from three elementary schools and one middle school, got to spend time with the air station’s fire and rescue crews, who showed them some of their vehicles and equipment. A practice day for the performers, the students saw many of the same flying acts, military vehicles and displays that show-goers were going to see on Saturday.
“We have a lot of great performers. We have good weather forecast. It’s not going to be great weather, but it’s going to be good weather,” Kuckuk said. “We have the Thunderbirds here, which are a headlining act anywhere in the country, along with some vintage aircraft and some civilian aircraft, so it is really going to be an exciting show.”
While some of the students tried on different parts of the firefighters’ protective gear and learned about their equipment, others got to climb inside the fire trucks. Then there was the paratroopers from the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground Free Fall School who landed on the flight line a few feet away from them, which brought many students scurrying over to the railing to catch a better look.
“Our children go to these schools also,” Kuckuk said. “We want to be part of the community in every way we can be.”
Jyetta McCoy, a first-grade and kindergarten teacher at Gwyneth Ham Elementary School, said all six of her students were having a great time at what was a pre-airshow performance.
“It’s excellent. The kids are having a lot of fun,” McCoy said. “We have been running from one thing to the next, and doing some of them twice. They really loved the books and stickers. It’s really neat because they can take them back and look at them this afternoon when we are back in school. It will be a good memory for them later.”
Gates will open at 8 a.m. today, with the USMC 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar performing the national anthem at about 10:30 a.m. Shortly afterward will be a demonstration from the USA Military Free Fall Team.
According to organizers, the event is expected to attract 60,000 people this year. From World War II-era vintage warbirds in flight to the amazing power of the modern Marine Air Ground Task Force — which includes helicopters, simulated explosions, fighter aircraft and fighting Marines — this airshow will be one to remember.
The famed U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, flying their distinctively painted F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multirole fighter jet, will highlight this year’s impressive lineup of performers.