Leader Blues

Saturday, October 28, 2006

TOP STORY >>Extravaganza in the sky set next weekend

IN SHORT: Officials are expecting nothing short of a spectacular air show this year as Air Force and civilian flight teams give it their all.

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

The 2006 Little Rock Air Force Base air show, Airpower Arkansas, will be held next weekend from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels headlining the show.

“On behalf of the 13,500 men and women of Little Rock Air Force Base, I’d like to personally invite everyone to Airpower Arkansas,” LRAFB commander Brig. Gen. Kip Self said.

“This year’s air show will be nothing short of spectacular to include a demonstration by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and many other skilled aviators from around the world, to include Air Force and civilian demonstration teams. There will also be plenty of food and refreshments. With free admission and parking, all you need to do is bring out your lawn chair and have a great Air Force afternoon.”

Airpower Arkansas 2006 will be the last air show for at least two years according to Gen. Self.

Director of operations for Airpower Arkansas 2006, Maj. Michael Brink, said to expect a fast-paced, exciting show. “I’m extremely excited for this year’s show as 2006 marks both the 50th anniversary of the C-130 and 60th anniversary of the Blue Angels,” Brink said.

The November show will have more military aircraft performing as compared to last year.

“We are proud to showcase the mission of Little Rock AFB and the capabilities of the U.S. military,” Brink said.

The Navy Blue Angels F-18 Hornet aerial demonstration team, the featured performance, is tentatively scheduled to fly at 2:45 p.m. both days. The Blue Angels dem-onstration lasts about an hour and a half according to Brink.

The biggest member of the Navy Blue team is a Lockheed Martin C-130T Hercules, known as Fat Albert Airlines. The plane has jet-assisted take-off (JATO) capability with eight solid-fuel rocket bottles, four on each side, attached near the rear paratrooper doors. Fired simultaneously, the JATO bottles allow the transport aircraft to take off within 1,500 ft., climb at a 45-degree angle, and propel it to an altitude of 1,000 ft. in approximately 15 seconds.

The Fat Albert joined the Blue Angels team in 1970 and flies more than 140,000 miles each season. It carries more than 40 maintenance and support personnel, their gear and enough spare parts and communication equipment to complete a successful air show.

LRAFB aircrews will also showcase their unique talents with a C-130 combat-capabilities exercise showing what they do in combat every day – precision airdrops of heavy equipment and cargo.

The Air Force Wings of Blue parachute demonstration team will feature 12 parachutists jumping from a C-130 cargo aircraft in four separate maneuvers at altitudes ranging from 4,500 to 11,000 feet above the ground. The paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C., will partner with the C-130s of LRAFB to drop more than 250 soldiers.

Other military aircraft performances include the F-15E Strike Eagle, the F-16 Viper and the Canadian Forces CF-18.
A new addition to this year’s show will be a concert by the band WideAwake following the Blue Angels’ demonstration on Sat-urday, Nov. 4.

Admission and parking is free. Souvenir, food, and information booths will be available. All visitors and their vehicles will be subject to search. No coolers, pets, backpacks, or large bags are allowed at the air show.

“We suggest getting to the air show early to avoid lines at the base gate,” Brink said. “Dress appropriately for the weather, bring sunscreen and a folding chair to watch the acts perform and bring earplugs for yourself and your children.”