Show wows thousands at air base in Vienna

VIENNA – Few things are more adrenaline-filled than a U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performance – except maybe going into labor at a Thunderbirds show.

With his grandson Jake Cunninghan, 3, perched on his shoulders at the Thunder Over the Valley air show, Jeff Martin of Burton recalled the birth of his own son, Jeffrey, during an air show in Cleveland.

“Her water broke when we got to the air show, but she didn’t tell me until after the Thunderbirds show. She knew I really loved them,” Martin said of his ex-wife, Vicki Martin.

Amanda Cunningham, Martin’s older daughter, was about 6 at the time and still remembers it.

“They finished and she goes ‘OK, we have to leave now,'” she said.

That’s when they headed for the hospital.

Beyond practically being born at an air show, Jeffrey recently finished aviation electronic school with the U.S. Navy in Pensacola, Fla. He will be involved in repairing the U.S. Navy’s planes.

“Monday, he finds out where he’s going,” Martin said.

Also at the show Sunday in Vienna with Martin were his son-in-law, Rob Cunningham, and grandson, Anthony Cunningham, 6, both of Liberty. The family was among thousands who attended the show’s second day, after foul weather on Saturday prevented the Thunderbirds and others from performing.

Buses shuttled guests from overcrowded and sometimes closed satellite parking at the Eastwood Field and Delphi-Packard Electric Systems until 3 p.m. and kept return trips going until after 8 p.m., despite the grounds closing at 7 p.m.

“They’ve been so excited. Even on the bus ride they saw the planes and that was it,” Shelley Betteridge said of her two grandchildren Ava, 6, and Ethan Boothe, 4.

“We almost had to get seat belts to hold them,” said their grandfather, Mike Betteridge.

The four were on the lookout for more than airplanes though. They were also trying to spot Ava and Ethan’s father, Master Sgt. Paul Boothe, who was helping with the show.

“He’ll be harder to spot than the planes,” Shelley said.

In the meantime, the four rested in the shade of an airplane wing. Along with the aerial demonstrations and static displays, there were several informational stations where children were able to get hands on with military equipment.

Gaetana Krok, 12, and Aleri Krok, 10, tried on a large military vest and tested the scope on a machine gun.

“It was heavy,” the two said in unison about the vest.

They were out for the day with their grandmother Julie King and their father U.S. Marines veteran David Krok. David’s brother is in the U.S. Air Force near Las Vegas. The show he said has more to it than entertainment value.

“It’s important for people to get to realize the sacrifices they make to defend the country,” he said.

With the playing of the national anthem, the Thunderbirds concluded the day’s events with patriotic reminder.