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PACAF Demo Team fuels Alaskan community during Arctic Thunder 2018

The Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team plants native vegetation by a riverbank with the Youth Employment in Parks program members in Anchorage, Alaska, June 29, 2018. The YEP program provides a 10-week summer program, hiring Anchorage teens to complete park improvement projects. Participants learn natural resource management job skills by building trails and restoring stream banks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

The Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team plants native vegetation by a riverbank with the Youth Employment in Parks program members in Anchorage, Alaska, June 29, 2018. The YEP program provides a 10-week summer program, hiring Anchorage teens to complete park improvement projects. Participants learn natural resource management job skills by building trails and restoring stream banks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

A Youth Employment in Parks program member covers a tree sapling with soil in Anchorage, Alaska, June 29, 2018. Helping the YEP team plant native vegetation was one of many community engagement activities the Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team participated in the days leading up to the air show. During their community, day the team participated in a meet-and-greet at a concert and handed out hundreds of free demo team memorabilia to locals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

A Youth Employment in Parks program member covers a tree sapling with soil in Anchorage, Alaska, June 29, 2018. Helping the YEP team plant native vegetation was one of many community engagement activities the Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team participated in the days leading up to the air show. During their community, day the team participated in a meet-and-greet at a concert and handed out hundreds of free demo team memorabilia to locals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

The Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team and Alaskan locals, take a selfie with Eddie P., the Anchorage Morning Show host, in Anchorage, Alaska, June 29, 2018. The team engaged with the community by participating in park beautification, conducting a meet-and-greet and attending a formlal dinner with the Anchorage, Alaska, city leaders. This afforded the team an opportunity to meet with their supporters and build trust and patriotism within the Alaskan community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

The Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team and Alaskan locals, take a selfie with Eddie P., the Anchorage Morning Show host, in Anchorage, Alaska, June 29, 2018. The team engaged with the community by participating in park beautification, conducting a meet-and-greet and attending a formlal dinner with the Anchorage, Alaska, city leaders. This afforded the team an opportunity to meet with their supporters and build trust and patriotism within the Alaskan community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mario Perez, a Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team avionics specialist, digs holes for tree saplings with the Youth Employment in Parks program members in Anchorage, Alaska, June 29, 2018. The demo team worked together to plant more than 30 saplings, which aids in strengthening riverbanks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mario Perez, a Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team avionics specialist, digs holes for tree saplings with the Youth Employment in Parks program members in Anchorage, Alaska, June 29, 2018. The demo team worked together to plant more than 30 saplings, which aids in strengthening riverbanks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

Alaskan natives, Bonnie Luther, left, and her grandson, Maddox Luther, center, receive a Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team sticker from U.S. Air Force Capt. Jake Impellizzeri, the PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team pilot, during a meet-and-greet session in Anchorage, Alaska, June 29, 2018. The team performed at the Arctic Thunder 2018 air show and showcased the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s capabilities. During their trip, the team engaged with the community to strengthen bonds between the Air Force and the local area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

Alaskan natives, Bonnie Luther, left, and her grandson, Maddox Luther, center, receive a Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team sticker from U.S. Air Force Capt. Jake Impellizzeri, the PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team pilot, during a meet-and-greet session in Anchorage, Alaska, June 29, 2018. The team performed at the Arctic Thunder 2018 air show and showcased the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s capabilities. During their trip, the team engaged with the community to strengthen bonds between the Air Force and the local area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska --

While an F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration engages communities across the world through its gravity-defying tricks, the team behind the machine also  engages with the community across the Indo-Pacific region but in a more... green way.

Arctic Thunder, a biennial air show, allowed the Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team to hone their community relation skills by not only participating in the beautification of local Alaskan parks, but also in a meet-and-greet session with the Anchorage, Alaska, locals, June 29.

“By seeing professional Airmen in action, we hope to bolster our nation’s confidence in our ability to execute the mission,” said Col. Chris Niemi, the 3rd Wing commander. “Community engagement events reassure them of that confidence in their service members.”

The team partnered with the Youth Employment in Parks program, which is a nonprofit organization that tends to Alaskan local and national parks. They perform duties such as restoring river bank restorations, planting native vegetation and revitalizing outdoor trails.

“The demo team members were not only open to playing a role in one of Alaska’s most treasured programs but also showed genuine interest in learning how the YEP program deeply impacts our community,” said Brenna Kruger, a YEP team leader.

During their time with the YEP members, the demo team took their hands off the F-16 Fighting Falcon and put their green thumb to the test by planting various tree saplings, such as black and white spruces and willows along the native trail.

“This opportunity allowed me to understand what’s important to the Alaskan people and to help them accomplish their goals,” said Senior Airman Christopher Welch, a PACAF F-16 demo team crew chief. “I also had the opportunity to share my dreams and how the Air Force enables me to achieve them.”

The team ended their day with a meet-and-greet session at a downtown concert, allowing locals to interact with the Airmen who make the F-16 demonstration possible.

“I enjoy inspiring people,” Welch said. “When we can get out and show the community that we are just normal people like them, it can motivate others to join the Air Force and be a part of something greater themselves.”