Thunder Over the Rock Saturday at the Little Rock Air Force Base

Kerry Kraus

The Little Rock Air Force Base is rarely accessible to the general public but the facility throws open its gates Oct. 9 and 10 as it hosts its Open House and Air Show. Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Headlining the event is the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, now in their 57th show season. The current group of air aces includes Hot Springs native Maj. Rick Goodman who flies Thunderbird No. 6.

The U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team performs their acrobatic aerial skills as does the Canadian Skyhawks. The Tora! Tora! Tora! re-creation of the attack on Pearl Harbor provides a vivid living history program. The Alabama Boys provide comic relief as they arrive in a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub. The act begins as farmer Clem Cleaver climbs up on the announcer’s stand, demanding a flight lesson. Later in the show, he “steals” the plane and takes off solo, with his whole crew chasing. Grandpa shoots off a tire to get him down, and Clem lands on his pickup truck as it races down the runway.

In what is known as a “combat capabilities” exercise, the LRAFB C-130 aircraft show what they do in combat: paratroopers jumping in an exciting display of military power, and the dropping of heavy equipment and other cargo. The Little Rock Air Force Base is the world’s largest C-130 installation. It is located 840 Leadership Drive in Jacksonville


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