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Hear the jet engines ROAR

Blue Angels visit the LRAFB’s annual air show.

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HORNETS' BEST: On view at LRAFB.
  • HORNETS' BEST: On view at LRAFB.

The famed Blue Angels, the Navy’s elite flying team, will be the highlight attraction in a weekend of flying fun and thrills at the Little Rock Air Force Base’s annual air show in Jacksonville.

The gates open Saturday and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and the show runs both days from 10 a.m. until about 4:30 p.m. When the flying ends Saturday, the music kicks in with a concert featuring Wide Awake.

The event has drawn more than 100,000 people for several years. Parking and admission are free, but visitors to the air base will have to pass through a security stop. Also, coolers aren’t allowed once you pass through the main gates of the air show on the air base.

This year’s air show is dubbed “Airpower Arkansas,” and visitors will be able to tour many of the aircraft parked on the tarmac.

A word of warning for those who bring little ones. Bring some ear plugs too; the roar of the jets passing over the base at low altitude is very loud. You might consider wearing some yourself.

The Blue Angels flight demonstration is the pride of the U.S. Navy, as the team performs high-precision maneuvers in tight formation. Since its creation in 1946 the team has performed for more than 414 million fans.

Other performance plans at the show will include the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-15E Strike Eagle, a CF-18 and the local C-130 Hercules. More than 60 planes will be on display for the two days. But all the noise and energy isn’t relegated to the air; the ShockWave Jet Truck returns with its record-setting engine (look for it hit the afterburners at more than 300 mph down the runway).

Retired Navy Capt. Dale “Snort” Snodgrass, considered one of the greatest fighter pilots of all time, will make an appearance in the F-86 along with the F-15E Strike Eagle and F-15 Viper demonstration teams. X-treme air show pilot Jon Melby, a former Air Base C-130 loadmaster, will showcase his muscle bi-plane while performing aerial maneuvers. Rob Reider, an Emmy Award-winning TV personality and pilot, will also entertain.

And Elkins, Ark., native Mike Rinker, who was formerly the corporate pilot for NASCAR driver Bill Elliot, will show off his aerobatic prowess.

The U.S. Air Force Academy’s Wings of Blue parachute demonstration team will showcase 12 parachutists jumping from a C-130 in four separate maneuvers at altitudes ranging from 4,500 feet to 11,000 feet. Their colored smoke will aid in seeing the demonstration. Also, paratroopers from Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne will partner with the C-130s from the Air Base for a massive paratrooper drop of more than 250 infantrymen.

For more information, call 987-2273 or visit www.littlerock.af.mil/airshow/.

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