Oregon F-15s awe Boise spectators

GOWEN FIELD, Boise, Idaho -- With a ground-shaking rumble, the blur of two F-15 Eagles streaks along the runway. One after the other they seamlessly transition from ground to air and hold steady just feet above the ground. Trailing exhaust briefly distorts the view of the outlying Boise foothills. Moments later, against the eastern skyline, they gracefully sweep up into the crisp-blue sky and bolt away from the earth.

In unison the squinting onlookers snap their heads to the right and track the two aircraft in the distance. They shade their eyes as the aircraft shrink into unrecognizable specks. Some peer longer than others as the specs are consumed by the piercing glare of the midday sun.

This was the first of several maneuvers performed here July 12 by pilots assigned to the 114th Fighter Squadron, 173rd Fighter Wing based at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Ore.

More than 100 Idaho National Guard Airmen, Soldiers, family and friends endured the midsummer heat to get a glimpse of the visiting F-15s up close and in action. Also in attendance was Frank Marxen, an engineering representative on the first F-15s originally flight tested in 1972. Marxen has been a Treasure Valley resident since 2001.

Kingsley Field is an F-15 training base. Maj. David Neal Unruh, an F-15 instructor pilot, said that a very small percentage of people who hope to fly the F-15 actually make it through the selection, qualification and training.

"This year more people will put on NFL jerseys than will fly F-15s," said Unruh.

The Oregon Air National Guard F-15s are temporarily conducting training operating from Gowen Field from May through November while their home station runways are being repaired.

"Our guys are happy to be here and we are having a hard time convincing them that they have to go home in November," said Col. Jim Miller, 114th Fighter Wing Commander.

The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air supremacy over the battlefield. There are currently 522 F-15s in operation Air Force-wide.