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

A group of U.S. Air Force Thunderbird aircraft fly in formation

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation during an aerial act for the Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Oct. 27, 2018. The air show showcased other aerial demonstrations such as the U.S. Army Golden Knights and a C-130 heritage flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy McGuffin)

A male speaks to a female on an aircraft during an air show

A U.S. Air Force loadmaster talks to a civilian during the Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Oct. 28, 2018. People from all over Arkansas came out to see aerial performances, static displays and other attractions such as a STEM Fest, a science and technology exposition for students. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell)

A gray C-130 drops parachutists mid air

Parachutists are released during the Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Oct. 27, 2018. The gates to Little Rock AFB were open to the public for the air show to showcase aerial demonstrations such as the U.S. Army Golden Knights and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Grace Nichols)

A green Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft, a gray C-130H aircraft with yellow stripes, and a gray C-130J aircraft fly in the sky

A Douglas C-47 Skytrain, a C-130H and a C-130J fly in formation during the Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Oct. 27, 2018. The Heritage flight commemorated the evolution of the C-130. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy McGuffin)

Children sit inside the flight deck of an aircraft

Children sit inside the flight deck of a C-5M Super Galaxy during the Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Oct. 27, 2018. Families from all around the Arkansas region came to experience air show which showcased static displays and aerial acts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tammy Reed)

Parachutists glide from the sky onto a flightline during an airshow

Parachutists land after the C-130 capabilities demonstration during the Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Oct. 27, 2018. The gates to Little Rock AFB were open to the public for the air show to showcase aerial performances such as the U.S. Army Golden Knights and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds along with highlighting other capabilities of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Grace Nichols)

A group of U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation around a C-130 from Little Rock

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation during an aerial act for the Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Oct. 27, 2018. The air show showcased other aerial demonstrations such as the U.S. Army Golden Knights and a C-130 heritage flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy McGuffin)

A member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights jumps out of the slide of an aircraft

A member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights jumps out of a UV-18C during an aerial performance for the Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Oct. 27, 2018. The air show showcased other aerial demonstrations such as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and a C-130 heritage flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

Thousands of spectators gather 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."


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