Awestruck at the F-15E

FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom -- Two members from the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, UK, have spent the last seven days highlighting the strength of the U.S. commitment to the security of Europe and overseas contingency operations by showing off their aircraft at the 2010 Farnborough International Air Show.

Capt. Ben Dean, F-15E fighter pilot with the 494th Fighter Squadron, said his mission here is to promote interoperability.

"We're here to try to get the word out to the public and tell them exactly what we do," the captain said. "I like to tell them how it is like to fly in today's environment. Today it's a close air support mission- we're the most required air frame in Afghanistan and we support the ground troops," he continued.

While Captain Dean's job at the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath is the squadron scheduler where he is responsible for scheduling each pilot's flight schedule, his temporary job here at Farnborough has proven to be a rewarding experience and one that puts things into perspective for the crew.

"Just to see people jaw-dropped is inspiring," he said. "We really don't think about that a lot and almost take it for granted of what we do sometimes because we're kind of a select few. It's kind of cool to get to show off what you do every once in awhile."

The U.S. corral was an item of interest for several of the spectators with the lines extending to two-hour waits, some of which who were specifically waiting just to see the Fighter Eagle.

According to Capt. Naomi Evangelista, Farnborough International Air Show U.S. Joint Information Bureau, there was a little boy waiting in line voicing his interest in seeing his favorite plane, the F-15E Strike Eagle, and his mother was afraid they would not have time to tour the aircraft before having to catch the bus.

"After the young boy got his tour of the fighter jet, he had the biggest smile on his face," said Captain Evangelista. "The mother came up to me and thanked me saying, 'I know I will not be able to get that smile off his face for a long time. This is why we are here,'" the captain pointed out.

According to many involved, it was an opportunity of a lifetime. Experiencing the show and feeling first-hand the public admiration for the U.S. military's aviation capabilities will not be soon forgotten.

The Farnborough International Air Show provided an invaluable forum to demonstrate U.S. resolve to continue producing the types of weapons and technology that promote the goals of enhancing the security of our Allies, and the F-15E's mere presence here made an immense contribution in accomplishing just that.