TOP STORY >> Large crowd expected for variety-filled air showcase
Leader staff writer
Little Rock Air Force Base’s 50th Anniversary Air Show from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday could be the biggest ever.
The gates open at 8:30 a.m. each day and a full, tentative schedule features a variety of aerial entertainment. (See special section inside.)
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds precision flight team is currently scheduled to be the final performance on both days, but weather conditions could cause the team to move the performance.
The Thunder-birds will be showing off the capabilities of the modern, high-performance F-16 Fighting Falcon. The Thunderbirds use six aircraft to perform formation flying and solo routines and the pilots perform approximately 40 maneuvers in each demonstration.
The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is scheduled to make a fly-by appearance on Sunday.
The Wings of Blue parachute team is scheduled to start the show on both days. In performances, the team exhibits aerial skills and precision landings. Each member is a qualified jumpmaster and instructor in the Air Force Academy parachuting program.
The Red Baron Pizza Squadron will be performing in vintage Boeing Stearman biplanes built between 1941 and 1943. The eight planes of the squadron will fly in formation less than a wingspan apart while performing aerobatic maneuvers such as loops, clover leafs, avalanches and barrel rolls.
Also on display will be a combat-capabilities exercise where C-130 aircraft will drop heavy equipment, cargo and approximately 400 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne from Fort Bragg, N. C.
Spectators will also get a chance to get up close and personal with static displays of both modern and vintage military aircraft and the crew members who fly them.
There will be individual performances as well, including Greg Poe in an Edge 540 aircraft, Mike Rinker in the Sukhoi 26m “Pink Floyd” and John Melby in a Pitts bi-plane. Melby is a former C-130 loadmaster at Little Rock Air Force Base. Michael Hunter, the only insulin-dependent aerobatics pilot in the world, will be performing in his Laser 230 plane.
Other performances include the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team performing a series of precision-formation aerobatic maneuvers in the World War II North American Advanced Trainer aircraft.
The 36,000 horsepower Shock-wave jet truck will be having two performances each day, streaking down the tarmac at 300 mph.
Two rare World War II aircraft, the B-29 Superfortress “Fifi” and the B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil,” will be on display at the show. The Commemorative Air Force and American Airpower Heritage Mus-eum maintain the planes so the public can see a part of history and to show appreciation to veterans. A nonprofit organization of volunteers, the CAF maintains the world’s largest collection of flying-condition aircraft of the 1939-1945 era. The CAF has a museum in Midland, Texas. From their inventory, the CAF Dixie Wing brings the Japanese Nakajima B5N Kate replica and the A6M Zero replica.
The Dixie Wing will pair with Doug Jackson and his Japanese A6M Zero replica “Tora 101” to simulate the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. The CAF Missouri Wing will be showing off their B-25 and Avenger aircraft. Both aircraft were used during World War II. The Avenger was also used in the Korean War.
Planes of Fame Airshows will show off the F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat and P-51 Mustang planes. The Hellcat, Wildcat and Mustang fought in World War II with the Hellcat and Mustang carrying over into the Korean War.
The Ozark Military Museum will be displaying the AT-7 Navigator, one of four versions of the C-45 aircraft used as a navigational trainer during the Second World War .
Jay Jay the Jet Plane, a cartoon television celebrity with the preschool and kindergarten crowd, will also be making an appearance at the air show. “Jay Jay the Jet Plane” is a animated television series about the adventures of a perky and curious 6-year old jet plane named Jay Jay and his airplane friends who live and play at Tarrytown Airport. There will be a “Jay Jay the Jet Plane Tours America” exhibit at a 53-foot tractor-trailer complete with all the regulars of the cartoon’s Tarrytown Airport where children can see a stage show featuring Brenda Blue, Jay Jay and their Tarrytown Airport friends.
Additionally, there will be bounce houses replicating the Tarrytown air traffic control tower and E. Z. O’Malley’s barn, and a video-viewing area for the latest Jay Jay videos and shows. Additional features of the Jay Jay area include Snuffy’s creation station arts and crafts area where children can color or put together puzzles.
There will also be Herky’s paint station for face-painting and temporary tattoos, the Tarrytown Post Office, where children can send a letter or postcard to Jay Jay and his friends, and the Jay Jay and Tracy’s picture place, where children can get their picture taken with the show’s stars.
Jacksonville officials are estimating 200,000 people will flood into town for the free two-day event.
All visitors and their vehicles will be subject to search. Due to security restrictions, recreational vehicles will not be allowed on base. No coolers, pets, backpacks or large bags are allowed at the air show. Due to safety concerns, there will be designated smoking areas.
For more information about the air show please call (501) 987-2273 or visit www.littlerock.af.mil.