‘Bombs’ away

By Tonya Fennell: Freedom Newspapers

Airmen from nine Air Force bases displayed their skills in two separate competitions Friday morning at Cannon Air Force Base.

Eight of the bases represented, including Cannon, fall under the 12th Air Force, which is headquartered at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. Airmen from Hurlburt Field in Florida also participated. Hurlburt falls under the Air Force Special Operations Command, which will assume ownership of Cannon Air Force Base in October.

The competition was the first of its kind at Cannon, according to Cannon Air Force Public Affairs spokesperson Lt. George Tobias.

Held on the flight line at Cannon, the first competition involved weapons-loading crews displaying their craft. As the Western song “Rawhide” played, three- and four-member crews armed various aircraft as spectators cheered.

Following the bomb-loading competition, invited civilians traveled to the Melrose Bombing Range to watch as Air Force pilots dropped dummy munitions. Various aircraft, including B-1B Lancers, F-117A Nighthawks and Cannon Air Force Base’s F-16s took turns soaring across the range. Their target was a white box truck.

Tobias said the competition is a morale booster where the winners gain bragging rights.

Cannon’s Maj. Jason Bailey said the reason for the competition is twofold.

“It (competition) is a chance for the 27th Fighter Wing to host some of the other members of the 12th Air Force,” Bailey said, “and a chance for the best aviators to compete.”

The pilots also demonstrated strafing, or ground-shooting with guns at a target.
“We get to see who shoots the best bullets,” Bailey said.

Col. Scott West, 27th Fighter Wing commander, said the competition was held at Cannon Air Force Base as part of the Air Force’s 60th anniversary. “This is part of that celebration,” West said.

The colonel said he was pleased with the weather and the turnout for the event.

“This (competition) is a great way to show the community what the airmen do to support the global war on terrorism.”