Volk Field opens its doors to the public

  • Published
  • By 1st Sgt. Vaughn R. Larson
  • Wisconsin National Guard
Approximately 2,500 people took advantage of the opportunity to see current and vintage military aircraft - parked on the runway as well as demonstrating aerial capabilities - at the biennial open house at the Wisconsin Air National Guard's Volk Field Saturday (June 2).

The open house provided the public a first-hand view of what Volk Field Air National Guard Base is all about, according to Maj. Chris Hansen, open house chairman.

"We're located in a small community area, so it is important that they not only know what takes place here, but understand why it is such a great location for military training of various facets," Hansen said.

Col. Gary Ebben, base commander, said the open house was a way for Volk Field to give something back to the community.

"One of our primary goals is to be good community partners and neighbors, leveraging our mutual interests," Ebben said. "The open house allows the community to see the types of capabilities we offer,  not only for combat operations, but also for all hazards domestic response."

Ebben said the open house was "a home run."

"This past Saturday was a total success," Hansen agreed. "The weather could not have been better. We had the opportunity to educate many members of the general aviation community on different flying practices, as well as offer a great display of aircraft and other military memorabilia to our visitors."

Nearly 40 general aviation aircraft flew in to experience landing at a military base. Seventeen aircraft were on display, to include a B-1 Lancer from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, a KC-135 Stratotanker from the Milwaukee-based 128th Air Refueling Wing, an F-16 Falcon from the Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing, and a UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter from the Madison-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Battalion.

An F-86 Sabre, a Korean War-vintage fighter jet that was to be part of the open house's salute to the Korean War, cancelled its appearance due to maintenance issues. The Wisconsin National Guard Museum on post as well as other static displays focused on the Korean War.

The open house featured 22 exhibits, ranging from a vintage military ambulance to a K-9 police dog. The Wisconsin National Guard's 54th Civil Support Team and the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team's Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle were also on hand to explain their missions to the public. L39 Albatros Czechoslovakian trainer jets, stunt planes and a Commemorative Air Force B-25 Mitchell â€" a World War II-era bomber â€" took part in flying demonstrations. A "5K on the Runway" run/walk event was also held.

"By all indications, everyone attending had a very enjoyable experience," Ebben said. "However, the success did not happen by chance. Credit goes to a great open house committee chaired by Maj. Chris Hansen. The pride of base personnel in this project was obvious."