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Air Force Afterburner thrills monster truck fans at Alamodome

SAN ANTONIO (AFNEWS) -- Afterburner, the Air Force-sponsored monster truck, thrilled 50,000 Monster Jam fans with car-crushing, high-jumping, raw engine power Jan. 13 at San Antonio's Alamodome.

2007 marks the second season the Air Force sponsors Afterburner, a high-powered 2006 monster truck equipped with a 1,465 HP, 540 Merlin motor and 66-inch tires designed to take on the U.S. Hot Rod Association Monster Jam racing circuit. The family-oriented competition draws more than one million fans of all ages to its event annually.

"Air Force sponsorship of Afterburner promotes Air Force awareness," said Tech. Sgt. Larry Wright, Air Force Recruiting Service special events marketing NCO. "Many monster truck fans are ages 17 to 27, providing us a lot of direct leads to potential recruits. In addition, a lot younger kids attend Monster Jam races, and Afterburner plants the seed of military branch awareness, which can possibly lead to interest in serving in the Air Force when they're older."

Afterburner's 2007 season driver, Damon Bradshaw, welcomed fans of all ages at the pit party by signing autographs and posing for photos for three hours before the competition kicked-off.

"It's an honor representing the men and women who fight for the safety of our nation," Mr. Bradshaw said. "I enjoy spending time with the kids who come to see our truck."

As fans waited to meet Mr. Bradshaw, 341st Recruiting Squadron recruiters answered fans' questions about Air Force career opportunities and benefits, and collected contact information from people who are interested in learning more.

The event caught the attention of Tyler Lawrence, 13, and Cody Debarge, 15, of San Antonio who took advantage of the opportunity to speak with recruiters while in line to meet Afterburner's driver. The two teens said they have always been interested in joining the military. Tyler is leaning more toward joining the Air Force after graduation and Cody is interested in joining the Marines. Recruiters onsite encouraged the grade-school students to study hard and graduate high school, and provided them career information to help them with their future decision.

"The Air Force is committed to recruiting the best America has to offer," said Col. Brian Madtes, Air Force Recruiting Service strategic communications division chief. "High energy events such as this provide us an excellent venue to share Air Force career opportunities with men and women who are interested in high-tech environments, are patriotic, seek adventure and want to do something amazing in their lives."

Driven to stay ahead of the competition, Afterburner's maintenance crew works day and night to make the Monster truck stronger, faster and safer to drive, said Paul Cohen, maintenance crew chief and Afterburner's 2006 season driver who is taking a break from driving while he recovers from an injury. Wheel tethers, improved suspension, advanced seatbelts, stronger tubing and tougher shocks are just a few of the technological advancements that have improved driver and crowd safety.

"Every show we're flying higher and further and the drivers are taking more of a beating," he said. "There's not many shocks out there that can take 10,000 pounds at a 40-foot jump. The driver takes on 28-30 Gs on the average landing. We're constantly researching and developing to improve safety, such as body, head and neck restraints."

For more information about the Air Force, visit www.airforce.com or www.dosomethingamazing.com, or call 1-800-423-USAF.

For more information about Afterburner, visit the Special Events link on www.airforce.com.

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