Kalispell’s Mountain Madness Airshow affords CTA vet a rare opportunity

By: Travis Estvold
11 September 2014

From Robbie Mathiason, administrative assistant for CTA’s Kalispell office:

The Mountain Madness Airshow took place Saturday, Aug. 30, and Sunday, Aug. 31, at Glacier Park International Airport just northeast of Kalispell, MT. I’ve volunteered as a year-round Kalispell Chamber of Commerce Ambassador since 2006; for this event, I was assigned as a liaison to the airshow’s sponsorship chalets. Both days brought fantastic flight demonstrations by not only the USAF Thunderbirds, but by many other types of aircraft as well. However, watching the aerial acrobats in action wasn’t even the highlight of my weekend.

After my pre-event duties in the VIP hospitality area at Depot Park on Friday evening, I managed to convince the maintenance office and flight surgeon for the Thunderbirds team that I needed to “pet” one of their airplanes. And so, Sunday night, after everything was parked and with the Thunderbirds pilots busy signing autographs, I approached the maintenance officer and reminded him of his promise.

He went to the maintenance crew, and shortly after, the crew chief for the #2 plane came over and escorted me to the jet. We had a great conversation about the airplanes, life after the military, and veterans issues around the world. I still miss my airplanes, and the incredible feeling of accomplishment that followed taxiing and takeoffs after planes’ pre-flight checks.

Though I’ve done many things since (including 10.75 years working for CTA Architects Engineers), sometimes just being in close proximity to a gorgeous aircraft takes me right back to my first days serving as an assistant crew chief [on this exact KC135A Stratotanker].

After graduating from Kalispell’s Flathead High School in June 1984, Robbie Mathiason went to basic training for the U.S. Air Force. She started working on the flight line at (since-closed) Castle AFB, CA, as an airman basic in Dec. 1984 and  remained there until her honorable discharge in Nov. 1986.

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