Gowen Air Show Draws Big Crowds And Offers Possible Glimpse At Facility's Future

Oct 16, 2017

The U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds soar above Boise Sunday afternoon as they perform stunts and tricks above the Treasure Valley.
Credit Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

Eyes were on the sky this weekend in the Treasure Valley. 

The Air Force's Thunderbirds and Canada's Snowbirds dazzled spectators with formations, tricks and the roar of afterburners as they performed at the Gowen Thunder Airshow. The event drew big crowds and offered a glimpse of what could be in the airfield’s future.

“I think we’re probably close to 60,000 / 65,000 for Sunday, and somewhere right around 50,000 for Saturday,” says Lt. Cassie Morlock, the 124th Fighter Wing Executive Officer.

Her crowd figures are estimates, but it makes sense that the first airshow to be held in the Treasure Valley since 1996 would have a big turnout. According to Morlock, the long absence can be traced back to 9/11 and the ensuing global War On Terror that’s persisted for well over a decade.

The executive officer says planning for the event took more than a year and a half.

“Having that many people getting onto a military installation, there’s definitely going to be a couple snafus, but to be honest, for not having one in more than 20 years, it was very well ran,” she says.

One of the most popular attractions were a pair of planes that didn’t even leave the ground. Two F-35 fighter jets, the military's newest, made an appearance. Gowen Field is one of five finalists to house a wing of the new planes.

A pair of F-35 fighter jets were brought from Salt Lake City to Gowen Field for the public to see up close.
Credit Norm Gunning / Boise State Public Radio

While many in the Treasure Valley want Gowen to be the new home of the F-35, some who live close by worry about pollution and the noise. A decision from the Air Force on whether or not Gowen Field will be a base for the cutting-edge jets could come at a moment’s notice.

“We are on the edge of our seats,” Morlock says. “We’re being told it’s any day, but, I mean, that could be today and that could be two months from now. So we’re waiting just like everybody else.”

There’s no guessing as to when the next airshow will be. Lt. Morlock says Gowen Thunder will return in September of 2020.

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