104FW hosts 2023 Westfield International Airshow

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Camille Lienau
  • 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 104th Fighter Wing opened its doors to the public for the first time since 2017, hosting acts such as the F-35 Lightning II demonstration team and an F-15C Eagle demonstration, during the Westfield International Air Show, May 13-14, 2023, at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts.

Nearly 70,000 people attended the event which featured 18 aerial demonstrations and 26 static-displays.

The goal of the event was to strengthen bonds between the local community and joint-service members while showcasing the capabilities of a variety of civilian and military aircraft and operations. 

U.S. Air Force Maj. Stephen ‘Steagle’ Mindek, WIAS 2023 project officer, 104FW,  worked to coordinate the various demonstrations and aircraft for the show.

"Many months of planning went into preparing for the air show," said Mindek. "We're happy to invite the community onto the base to see the capabilities of a variety of aircraft and the dedication of our personnel."

The community’s response was incredible, according to David 'Moon' Halasi-Kun, 104FW commander. "Lots of smiles, lots of happy families, and lots of people impressed by all of the flying acts including the F-15s, A-10s, and especially the F-35s.”

Maj. Kristin ‘Beo’ Wolfe, commander of the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team, piloted the F-35A as the headlining act for the 2023 air show. Her 15-minute demonstration highlighted the aircraft’s stealth capabilities and what the future will look like with the fifth-generation air-to-air and air-to-ground aircraft.

“It’s like flying a roller coaster, except you’re the only one in there and you can do what you want,” said Wolfe.

The air show also featured a demonstration from two of the 104FW’s very own F-15C Eagles.

"It has been about 15 years since any pilot has performed an F-15 demo at an air show," said Mindek. "We are really excited about it. It is a great opportunity for some of our pilots to showcase the F-15."

Massachusetts law enforcement, emergency management, and civilian volunteers worked alongside military personnel to make the air show a success.

Cadet 3rd Class Lorelai Hetzler, member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 370, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, was one of more than 250 volunteers who worked at the air show.

“We are supporting the event manning concessions, and we have about half of our detachment and one of our cadre members helping out," said Hetzler. “I met some cool people, learned something new, and also assisted in serving all the civilians and everyone else here.

Wing leadership expressed their gratefulness for the local community in both supporting the air show and the wing's continuing operations.

“The airshow was a resounding success, and we are so proud to be a part of this community. Westfield and the surrounding communities are so important to us,” said Halasi-Kun. “This air show would have not been possible without the support from the public, the joint efforts of service members, and civilian supporting agencies. We want to say thank everyone for their participation and highlight all of the work that went into both put the air show on and that of securing the future of our wing with the F-35 conversion decision."