News | Sept. 11, 2021

A soaring start to a great weekend

By Spc. Devin Bard U.S. Army 114th Public Affairs Detachment

Aircraft thundered over head while hundreds of Soldiers and Airmen from the New Hampshire National Guard, along with their families, retirees, and other members of the military community gathered at Pease Air National Guard for a sneak peek of the 2021 Thunder Over New Hampshire Airshow and Open House.

Following the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic response, the NH National Guard Family Day, held on Sept. 10, allowed members of the local military community to enjoy the event and build new memories together.

For generations now, Air Shows have allowed families to build unique memories. In light of this, an older generation can now share with a younger one. Paul Fitzgibbons, of Brentwood, served 22-years with the Navy and retired as a Commander. He was delighted to share this event with his family.  

“It's a great idea they have the show,” said Fitzgibbons. “I'm always excited to watch the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels when I can.”

In attendance with him were his two grandsons, Ian and Kiernan Fitzgibbons, 12 and 10 respectively. This was their first air show, and they said they could not be happier to watch.

“It's pretty exciting seeing all the planes go by really fast and all of the tricks they do ,” said Kiernan.

Carol Lothrop, mother of Maj. Shannon Van-Splunder, air show director and an intelligence officer with the 157th Air Refueling Wing, has watched airshows since she was a child.

“It’s my first airshow as an adult,” said Lothrop. “When I was a child, I grew up on Naval Air Base in Rhode Island, and they used to have an airshow every year.

Family members the NH National Guardsmen, such as Lothrop and the Fitzgibbons children, said they are extremely proud to be a part of this event. Lothrop said the event's quality, and family members being an integral part of making it happen, made the event extra special to them. She added it was a great experience, one she soon won’t forget. 

“I'm prouder than you could possibly imagine,” said Lothrop, when asked about her daughter’s efforts with directing the show. “She's worked extremely hard on this production and I’m very proud no words that can express how proud I get because I break into tears every time I do."