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Air Force 'Inspire' tour brings airpower to Santa Maria

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg members will have an opportunity to get an up-close look at the U.S. Air Force "Inspire" interactive road show during the annual Thunder Over the Valley fly-in at the Santa Maria Airport on Aug 29-30. 

The annual fly-in event marks the Santa Maria Museum of Flight's 25th anniversary and is free for active duty, Reserve, Guard and retired military, as well as their dependents. 

The Inspire Tour, a new tool developed by the Air Force recruiting center, is an all-ages multimedia experience designed to give civilians an inside look at the Air Force. 

The exhibit features a series of flight simulation video games; an F-16 Fighting Falcon jet display; a ride designed to simulate the spatial disorientation that pilots frequently encounter; and a trailer housing a surround-sound movie theater showing a high-energy, audio-visual experience. 

Event planners said the purpose of this exhibit is to educate audiences on the Air Force mission and promote interest in potential future Airmen. 

"We want to inform people about what the Air Force is and what we do," said Staff Sgt. Michael List, a recruiter from the Lompoc Air Force Recruiting office. "In doing so, we also hope to inspire some people to look more into the opportunities available by joining the Air Force." 

The Inspire exhibit is an 11-month tour, visiting 70 cities nation-wide and covering approximately 100,000 miles; it began its journey at the Rose Bowl in January. 

Local Airmen attending the fly-in are invited to check out the exhibit and learn more about their Air Force. 

"(Vandenberg Airmen) will enjoy seeing the exhibit," said Sergeant List. "Especially since Vandenberg is so unique in not having a flying mission, they'll get a different outlook on the Air Force." 

Event planners hope to bring upwards of 10,000 guests through the exhibit during the two-day event. 

Admission to the fly-in for non-military guests is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 7 to 12 and $15 for families. 

For more information on the Thunder Over the Valley fly-in, contact the Museum of Flight at (805) 922-8758 or online at www.smmof.org. For more information on the Air Force Inspire Tour, contact the Lompoc Air Force recruiting office at (805) 735-6773 or online at www.airforce.com.