The Air National Guard, a reserve component of the U.S. Air Force, brought its “Rise to the Challenge” tour to the state fair Friday. The experience allows fairgoers to participate in simulated missions that demonstrate the roles of Air Guard men and women.
There are five interactive challenges, tour coordinator Cierra Johnson said. Each is designed to highlight a skill associated with an Air Guard career field.
Four of the challenges are housed in a touring vehicle built to simulate the interior of a cargo plane.
To accommodate as many participants as possible, double gaming stations are featured in the touring vehicle.
Scannable tour badges allow participants to keep track of points received.
“The first one is a mechanical challenge where you have 60 seconds to remove and replace cables on an F-16 jet engine,” Johnson said.
The second is a reconnaissance challenge designed to test a player’s honing surveillance skills.
“The third is probably the most fun,” Johnson said. This is the refueling challenge where players have the opportunity to refuel a B-2 Spirit bomber midair.
While standing in front of a television screen, the player must hold a remote controller while keeping an eye on the distance from the refueling plane and carefully lift the B-2 bomber, all in 60 seconds.
The last challenge inside the trailer is the medics challenge.
“Here you test your medical knowledge by locating the items the screen asks you to find,” Johnson said.
The final challenge is outdoors and tests physical strength.
“This is the battlefield airman challenge where you are tested to see how many pull-ups or push-ups you can do,” Johnson said.
Fairgoers who finish all five challenges can retrieve their scores by swiping their tour badges with an Air Guard recruiter.
The names of the leading challenge performers will be posted at the site, and the tour’s leading high scorer will be featured throughout the tour’s duration.
“The challenges that are provided here are very similar to what you can expect in the Guard,” said Tech. Sgt. Wes Sirmons, a production recruiter who is on site to answer questions fairgoers might have about the Guard as well as recruiting them if they are interested.
The traveling interactive experience debuted in 2010 to educate Americans about the Air Guard’s role in serving local communities and the nation.
Johnson said the tour has gone to festivals, air shows and music and sports events across the nation since May on a 22-week tour.
A new component this year is the “Grateful States” initiative.
“This allows participants to record a personal 20-second video thank-you message for those men and women of the Air National Guard currently serving our country at home and abroad,” Johnson said.
“I think it is a great idea,” fairgoer Lucas Allen said. “I come from a military family and I know that we need to show strong support for what they’re doing because they are someone’s family member.”
The tour will remain until the close of the fair on Sunday, but the Air National Guard invites all to “Rise to the Challenge” by visiting GOANG.com/games.
The video messages will be featured on the “Grateful States” website, GoANG.com/GratefulStates. Those who cannot make it to the fair can visit the website to make their own thank-you videos.