HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Rain did not keep Greg Yardley from staying until the Thunderbirds performed Saturday afternoon.
The Springville resident was among thousands of people who braved the cold winds and rain to attend the “Warriors Over the Wasatch: A Legacy of Valor” air show at Hill Air Force Base. “We came too far to turn around and go home,” he said.
Yardley said he brought his four daughters to the air show to honor the military.
The rain that began at noon and continued until 2:30 p.m. did cause him to think briefly about going home. The Yardleys had made a mad dash to their car and drove to a local restaurant. They were considering going home when they heard planes overhead.
“We got back in the car and came back,” Yardley said.
His daughters, along with the crowd, cheered as the Thunderbirds zoomed overhead, demonstrating their air skills to choreographed music.
The Thunderbirds show was delayed about 45 minutes by the rain.
Hill officials said today’s weather is expected to be better than it was Saturday, but those coming to the show should be prepared for rain.
The base opens at 8 a.m. for the open house and to give those who want to watch the air show time to find a good spot.
Saturday’s air show began with a flag ceremony honoring Ogden Police Officer Jared Francom and the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force. Francom was assigned to the strike force and was killed in a Jan. 4 shootout in which five officers were wounded while executing a drug-related search warrant.
Many air show attendees were not prepared for rain, and when it came, the booths selling ponchos, coats, sweatshirts and jackets were doing a brisk trade.
As the rain fell, people huddled in the hangars and hoped the skies would clear.
Myrna Draper, of West Valley City, bought a jacket to keep warm.
“We looked at the weather and just hoped for the best,” she said.
Her husband, Terry, said they planned to stick around as long as possible. Because it was their first air show, they did not know they could bring folding chairs.
The Stewart family, of Roy, is experienced at attending air shows and came equipped.
“My dad (Robert Stewart) helped organize the first air show,” said Blake Stewart.
That air show was at the Ogden airport in the 1950s, and the Thunderbirds performed then, too, Stewart said.
Stewart was 6 years old at the time and met Air Force Capt. J.R. Crane, who died in a training accident in 1960 at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.
Stewart’s love for jets and airplanes is shared by his 10 children.
His daughter, SaraJane Nokes, of Clinton, arrived at the base at 7:50 a.m. She brought enough blankets and chairs to save a large enough space for her siblings, their spouses, her parents and several nieces and nephews.
She has made an effort to attend as many air shows as possible over the years.
“This is the military giving something to us so we celebrate with them our freedoms and our rights,” Nokes said.
She said her family comes to see not just the air stunts, but also the jets and planes that are parked and open for people to walk through.
A C-5 cargo plane was open, and many stood in line to touch and see it. It is one of the largest aircraft ever built, and the Air Force is retiring it after decades of heavy use all around the world.
Jeff Walker, of South Weber, brought his five sons, ages 1 to 11, to the air show. As they walked out of the cargo plane, they took a minute to get their photo taken near it.
Tyler Walker, 11, said he was looking forward to seeing the P-51 Mustang, which was used during World War II.
Dave Erickson, with the 309 Software Maintenance Group at the base, recently bought a Zlin plane. The program had him performing in a Super Chipmunk.
“The Zlin is 500 pounds lighter and has 40 more horsepower than the Chipmunk,” said Erickson, who lives in West Point.
He said the Zlin “is so nice to fly. Everything is so smooth, especially when you’re tumbling or going nose over tail. It’s great.”
Erickson will also be performing in today’s show.
“It’s always an honor to fly in shows here, especially where I work.”