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Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show comes to Little Rock AFB

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Grace Nichols
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Thousands of spectators gathered around a line of four C-130 Hercules representing the units that make up the Home of Combat Airlift at show center of the Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show to stare in awe as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds soar overhead Oct. 27-28.

Both days featured aerial demonstrations such as the C-130 Hercules capability exercise, the U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue and U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute jump teams, and the world-famous U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, in addition to a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics festival that ran all weekend.

The airshow kicked off with a demonstration by the U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue parachute jump team with a cadet floating to show center trailing a U.S. flag while the national anthem played. U.S. Air Force Col. Gerald Donohue, 19th Airlift Wing commander, delivered opening remarks welcoming the community and thanking them for their vital support.

"We talk about unrivaled air power," Donohue said. "But what is truly unrivaled is the support we enjoy from our community."

Team Little Rock also treated spectators to an exhibition of the aircraft that enables projecting and sustaining agile combat airlift. From carrying heavy cargo to performing low-level maneuvers, visitors learned the true versatility of the C-130J Hercules during a live demonstration.

"This weekend was about showcasing the Air Force - and Team Little Rock specifically - to our incredibly supportive community," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Williams, air and space show director.

Attendees of all ages got a glimpse of the versatility and joint interoperability of the C-130 Hercules during a capability exercise that featured airdrop of heavy equipment, a Humvee, and 200 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

"It was amazing to see the crowd's reaction to the CAPEX, which really highlighted what the C-130 can do," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jared Jones, air and space show director of operations. "We often talk about our role in projecting and sustaining combat airlift. This weekend, it was on display for everyone to see."

Spectators also got to see a heritage flight formation that included a C-47 Skytrain, as well as C-130H and C-130J Hercules, highlighting the legacy of the Air Force's global mobility capability.

"The heritage flight was a perfect symbol for Thunder Over the Rock," Williams said. "It showed the history of airlift next to our modern capabilities and hopefully inspired our guests to think about the future of combat airlift and Team Little Rock's continued role in it."

The airfield featured ground attractions, including the 19th Security Forces Squadron K-9 demonstration, static displays of dozens of modern and vintage aircraft, a kid zone play area, informational booths and other activities for different age ranges and interests.
While the STEM Fest went all weekend, a more immersive field trip day was held Oct. 26

for school-aged children from across the state of Arkansas to expand their horizons and generate interest in science-oriented careers.

Beyond the tailspins, Airmen worked the event to ensure guests had a good experience by explaining aircraft history, giving information about exhibits and keeping the installation secure.

"This was a team effort - specifically a Team Little Rock effort," Donohue said. "Today was about giving back to the community, and that couldn't have happened without the efforts of our Airmen and community partners."