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Apple Blossom Festival ties air show to community

John Klatt, an aerobatics pilot for the Air National Guard, presents Lt. Col. Byron Newell, the Sound of Speed Airshow coordinator, with a photo May 4, 2012 in St. Joseph, Mo. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crane/Missouri Air National Guard)

John Klatt, an aerobatics pilot for the Air National Guard, presents Lt. Col. Byron Newell, the Sound of Speed Airshow coordinator, with a photo May 4, 2012 in St. Joseph, Mo. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crane/Missouri Air National Guard)

John Klatt, an aerobatics pilot for the Air National Guard, presents Lt. Col. Byron Newell, the Sound of Speed Airshow coordinator, with a photo May 4, 2012 in St. Joseph, Mo. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crane/Missouri Air National Guard)

John Klatt, an aerobatics pilot for the Air National Guard, presents Lt. Col. Byron Newell, the Sound of Speed Airshow coordinator, with a photo May 4, 2012 in St. Joseph, Mo. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crane/Missouri Air National Guard)

John Klatt, an aerobatics pilot for the Air National Guard, presents Lt. Col. Byron Newell, the Sound of Speed Airshow coordinator, with a photo May 4, 2012 in St. Joseph, Mo. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crane/Missouri Air National Guard)

John Klatt, an aerobatics pilot for the Air National Guard, presents Lt. Col. Byron Newell, the Sound of Speed Airshow coordinator, with a photo May 4, 2012 in St. Joseph, Mo. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crane/Missouri Air National Guard)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Among the mixed smells of awarding winning barbeque, service members of different branches and nations came together here May 4 to kick off the 2012 International Edition of the Sound of Speed Air Show at the Apple Blossom Barbecue Festival.

"This gives the community an opportunity to see and connect with our military service members," said Mike Hurst, airport general manager for Rosecrans Memorial Airport. "The community loves it. It grows stronger each time."

They said it's also a time when old relationships are renewed and new relationships are made sharing a meal outdoors at Civic Center Park.

"When you've got professionals working this from the ground-up from the planning committee to the local suppliers to local law enforcement as well as the participants, it makes [this] real easy," said Col. Michael Pankau, 139th Airlift Wing commander.

Service members with the assistance from the newly crowned Apple Blossom Queen, Candace Jimenez, exchanged gifts and words of appreciation with air show performers. Participants also recognized those from Canada, Germany and Italy.

The Canadian Forces Parachute Team, the SkyHawks, from Trenton, Ontario, was among them.

The SkyHawks have performed for 41 years with team members from all three Canadian services.

"The SkyHawks perform parachute demonstrations to showcase the professionalism, dedication and team work it takes to be a part of Canada's military," said Capt. Indira Thackorie, SkyHawks public affairs officer.

Performers signed autographs and posed for group photos.

"We want to connect or interact with the population as well as showcase what the Canadian Forces are all about," said Sgt. Sebastian Tremblay, team member.

Another team performer in attendance was the U.S. Navy Parachute Demonstration Team, the Leap Frogs, who participated in past air shows here.

Air show participation such as this one becomes a real joint service performance that reflects real-world missions, said Leap Frogs' Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (PJ) Michelle Turner.

"We don't have our own aircraft, so it's imperative that we get support from squadrons."

Turner pointed out that meeting others at the barbeque and performing at the air show is like visiting family.

"The 139th has been amazing in support of our mission these past few years," said Turner.