2012 US Aviation Events

MAY 25 2012
Aviation Events >> USA: 128th ARW Open House, Milwaukee, WI

General Mitchell International Airport is the main airport serving the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin. It is also home to the 128 Aerial Refueling Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Dating back to 1947, the unit has been based there since its inception and has been a tanker unit since 1961 when it commenced operations with the KC-97 aircraft. It converted to jet tanker operations with the KC-135 aircraft from 1977 and currently it operates the KC-135R variant.

While a full air show is not held at the airport, the unit does have an Open House event to share with the local community the work that they do. This takes place on its ramp and in its hangars on the east side of the field while the normal operations of the airport continue as normal. It is a chance to not only show what the unit does but also to bring in other aircraft to allow the visitors to see a variety of aircraft types, both modern and historic.

The event took place over two days and attracted a steady stream of visitors. The home unit had a number of displays in the hangars as well as one of the based aircraft that was open for visitors to tour. Since operations continued as normal, it was possible to see the occasional aircraft launching from the main runway, although the operations took place from a separate part of the airfield.

The Air Force managed to have a variety of aircraft available from various units to support the event. A KC-10 Extender from Maguire AFB provided another tanker to support the home unit's theme. From the transport side a C-130 and a C-17 were on the ramp, again providing an opportunity for the visitors to see inside the aircraft. A more unusual visitor was a TC-135. Sharing the external lines with the RC-135, I was surprised to see this opened up to the public until I realized that it was a trainer and was lacking quite the normal number of antennae! A T-38 from the B-2 unit at Whiteman and an F-16 from the sister Wisconsin ANG unit at Madison rounded out the Air Force contingent. The Army had brought along a UH-60M which, as the only rotary aircraft on display, got a lot of attention.

Many vintage aircraft were present including a number from the Commemorative Air Force's local wing at Waukesha WI. T-6/SNJs were on display along with a CT-133 (Canadian name for the T-33) in Canadian markings and a Nanchang CJ6. An N3N trainer was also present - a far more unusual aircraft to find on display. A T-34 Mentor and a Bearcat in Blue Angels colors added to the variety.

The ground demonstrations provided much interest to the visitors. Whether it was controlling the turret on an armored vehicle or watching a recovery team demonstrating how to deal with the aircraft that had suffered a gear collapse, there was much to entertain and inform.

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