Crowds gather to watch Kalispell's own Thunderbird


KALISPELL, Mont. - It was a dark and cloudy morning at Glacier International Airport. But that didn't keep thousands from showing up to the Mountain Madness Air show.

Sunday is the second and final day of the show which has featured everything from a pilot singing the national anthem in the air and even a jet powered truck that blasted down the runway.

But for many the main attraction was the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird's, an elite group of pilots who only fly a few shows a year. Kalispell was chosen to host one of those shows and residents were in for an extra dose of excitement.

Flying the number six jet for the Thunderbird's is Kalispell's own Major Jason Curtis. He is a Flathead High graduate and attended Flathead Valley Community College.

"It gives us all a sense of pride that we actually, you know someone is representing you know Montana so that's awesome," said Krista Gee of Kalispell who came out on Sunday to watch the show.

For one onlooker it meant a little more to watch Curtis take the skies over the weekend. Taylor Hulslander is in the Air Force Academy, something that Major Curtis motivated him to do.

"He really inspired me to go to the academy and really was a big influence in getting me in and getting me inspired to go," said Hulslander.

Hulslander hopes to one day fly fighter jets like Curtis and this weekends show was more than just a cool event, it was a chance to see his role model in action.

"One of my biggest role models to see and he's a great guy, great character and attitude, he's very humble," said Hulslander.

Even though Curtis is constantly on the move with the Thunderbirds, Hulslander still gets to see him every now and then, including at graduation last year. He's glad that he gets to watch Curtis pull some serious g-forces in his jet, something he hopes he'll be doing in the near future.

"I'd like to thank Jason for all hes done for me and being such a wonderful role model and aspiring me to go to the academy and serve my country," said Hulslander.

The Mountain Madness Air Show was the first to hit Kalispell in nine years. It was organized by the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce.