C-17 West Coast Demo Team concludes ‘best season yet’

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  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The C-17 West Coast Demonstration Team concluded its 2021 season with its 14th show at the Wings Over North Georgia Airshow in Rome, Georgia, Oct. 31.

Since the beginning of the season in April, the C-17 Globemaster III Demo team, which consists of seven pilots and five loadmasters, has flown in 14 cities, conducted 26 aerial demonstrations and 42 rehearsal profiles.

“The West Coast Demo Team did a phenomenal job this season,” said Col. Sergio Anaya, 62nd Operations Group commander. “They completed 14 shows demonstrating our capabilities to over 790,000 spectators.”

Maj. Nick Coblio and Maj. Patrick Warfel, who both led this season’s demo team, said that the season allowed the team to personally engage with the community again, following the cancellations of shows in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“It has been an amazing opportunity this year in the post-COVID restriction environment to showcase our capabilities to numerous public metropolitan centers not just in the western U.S. but across the nation—reaching millions of viewers especially with live streaming at many events,” Warfel said.  

Based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, the demo team represents the 62nd Airlift Wing, Air Mobility Command and the Air Force to airshow audiences while facilitating community engagements and supporting recruitment and retention efforts. Unlike other military aerial demonstration teams, the C-17 team members serve in an additional duty capacity. They simultaneously execute their primary aircrew duties, serve in non-flying staff positions, and must remain worldwide mission capable.

“The importance of the C-17 West Coast Demo Team is its ability to represent the Air Force through public outreach and showcase the capabilities of the mighty C-17 Globemaster III,” said Maj. Courtney Vidt, C-17 demo team pilot. “This is an opportunity for the public to learn about the mission set of the C-17 and meet the people who actually fly and operate the aircraft. It is also an opportunity to help recruitment efforts and act as an ambassador for the Air Force, specifically when it comes to the pilot or loadmaster professions.” 

During the season the demo team participated in several airshows including Wings Over Houston Airshow, Dayton Airshow, Moses Lake Airshow and Hyundai Air and Sea Show. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the demo team were successful in engaging the communities.

“This is the best season yet,” Vidt said. “We flew a total of 14 airshows this season, two of which were hometown shows over Tacoma and Gig Harbor on 4th of July. We had the honor of participating in Sun ‘n Fun in Florida this year, the second largest airshow in the United States, with over 2.5 million viewers from 67 countries.”

In addition, the demo team conducted outreach with prospective C-17 aircrew members from undergraduate pilot training bases, ROTC, JROTC, Civil Air Patrol, Commemorative Air Force and other pilot organizations.

“This year, in what turned out to be a blockbuster year for the C-17 community, members of our demo team also answered our nation’s call during the largest evacuation operation in history consisting of more than 125,000 refugees from Afghanistan,” Anaya said. “The demo team represented the entire 62nd Airlift Wing team in showcasing the capabilities of the C-17A to communities throughout the United States in the hopes of sparking excitement in a young boy or girl who will become our next generation of Air Force leaders.”  

Vidt said one of the most exciting part of being a demo team member is meeting the public and hearing their stories.

“We meet people in the crowd that have amazing stories about the C-17 and how it’s impacted their lives, it’s an honor to represent the community and help them relive those amazing memories,” she said. “We also meet children who are amazed with how big the C-17 is and really excited about meeting the pilot or the loadmaster that just flew the demo profile that they watched.”

With the closing of the 2021 season, the C-17 demo team is already gearing up for the 2022 season. The demo team is also seeking new members this winter to join the team. Other plans include advancing the ambassador roles of the C-17 team by including other career fields to represent Team McChord and showcase 62nd AW’s best of the best.

“We are not just aircrew, we are not just demonstration certified members, we are ambassadors; and we take that very seriously,” Warfel said.