In the mornings I often spend an hour or more online reading e-mail and
news articles. Today there were articles on both the Alaska Dispatch and
Anchorage Daily News websites about the huge crowd at the Arctic Thunder
air show at JBER yesterday Ė estimates of between 125,000-150,000 people.
I donít know why they donít have a more exact count, since everyone goes
through security at the gate to the show.
The bi-annual air show is popular with people of all ages.
Anyway, that was a bigger crowd than expected and they had to turn a lot
of other people away at the Boniface Gate, the base entrance closest to
We didnít see a long line in the morning or afternoon at the Richardson
Gate, which is closer to our campground, but some folks waited over two
hours to get in mid-afternoon for the Thunderbird exhibition Ė if they
were lucky enough to even get on base.
Two years ago folks could park at schools and other places off-base and
get shuttles in. This time the only shuttles were on-base. The articles
said parking spaces filled up and they had to turn people away. Once
inside folks seemed to have a good time, though.
JIM'S PERSPECTIVE FROM
THE OPEN HOUSE ON BASE
Jim rode his bike over to the flight line this morning so he could see
the static displays and the drop of about 40 paratroopers during the
below: C-130 prop cargo plane and skydivers
Air show attendees view static displays on the
ground as planes fly overhead.
Above and below: WWII U.S. P-51 Mustang
fighter plane in pursuit of a Japanese Zero
C-17 cargo plane on the ground and one in the air
of a C-17 cargo plane
Jim enjoyed the show. He went into a C-17 cargo plane and a Chinook
CH-47 helicopter. He looked at the electronics and hydraulics of other
He also walked inside the hangars that had various military displays and
activities. He really enjoyed the entertainment provided by this group
Jim was able to ride the shortest route from the campground (some roads
were closed to traffic) and locked his bike in a rack near the entrance.
He was amazed how many bikes were
there Ė at least 300, he thinks. Here are some of them:
Thatís great! Bikes are very popular in Anchorage, as evidenced by all
the bike paths.
Jim stayed about three hours but left before the Thunderbirds flew at
the end of the show. When he left at 2 PM vehicles were still three abreast
coming in from the Boniface Gate Ė amazing:
Jim took these photos of helicopters and other aircraft as he rode his
bike back to the campground:
Above and below: Black Hawks = attack and troop
Above and below: CH-47 (Chinook) =
troop and supply transport
Another view of a C-17 cargo plane (close-up
farther up in this entry)
He also saw this moose along the road:
I donít know if anyone was turned around today and not permitted to
enter the base because of the large crowd.
We didnít hear anything about the show on the local news at 5 or 6 PM,
which surprised us. I'm sure there were reporters and photographers on
the ground at the show and two
NBC reporters were filming the Thunderbirds at an overlook on Arctic
Valley Rd., where I was watching the show from 3:35-4 PM:
SUE'S PERSPECTIVE FROM ARCTIC VALLEY
I wasnít as interested as Jim in seeing the static displays or dealing
with the crowds today so I hiked for several hours with Cody in the
Chugach Mountains east of Anchorage. I wrote about that in the
I liked the large air show at Ellsworth AFB in Rapid City, SD last year because it had a
lot of interesting planes and demonstration flights, including the
Thunderbirds. I've also seen the
Thunderbirds fly several times in recent years at the USAF Academy in
The most recent time was in May at the USAFA as the
Thunderbirds practiced for the cadet graduation.
I had kind of a ďbeen there, done thatĒ attitude today. I wanted to see the Thunderbirds fly
but that was about it.
I accomplished that by observing their show from
1,800 feet in the mountains, about seven or eight air miles from
the flight line. It was significantly quieter from that distance and I didnít
have to deal with the crowds.
The Thunderbirds were scheduled to begin their part of the show at 3:30
PM. I finished my hike in time to arrive at a large overlook several
miles up Arctic Valley Road a few minutes before that. This view of the
flight line at JBER shows how quiet it was before the Thunderbird team
were already parked there. Locals know it's a good place to get the "big
picture" without all the hassles of being on base:
Here are a few photos I took of the Thunderbird show with some of the
smoke plumes they released:
After the Thunderbirds' show I returned to our campground via the
Richardson gate and had no problems getting on-base. Some spectators
were leaving from that gate but very few were going in that late because
the air show was over.
ADDENDUM JULY 10, 2013
I'm glad I got to see the Thunderbirds (the Air Force F-16
demonstration team) fly last year in Anchorage because they and
the Blue Angels (the Navy equivalent) were grounded after April
1 this year, thanks to the government's budget cuts known as
"sequestration." All of their shows have been cancelled for the
rest of 2013.
The teams will continue to train, however; they have to
be combat-ready. The good thing is that more pilots are freed up
to fight to defend our country, if necessary. The air shows are
mainly a way to say thank you to the public for its support and
to recruit more good folks to the military.
Maybe my last view of the Thunderbirds'
F-16s for a while . . .
I will make no comments on the politics involved. This is one of many
articles about the show
cancellations that you can find online.
We plan to return to Alaska in 2014. Hopefully, the Arctic
Thunder Air Show will resume then (it occurs at JBER every two
years, not annually). If it does, I'll be more likely to go to
the open house and just deal with the crowds.
Next entry: increasing our knowledge of Alaska's
important salmon industry -- visiting two state fishery
locations in Anchorage
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil