Massive crowds flock to air show

Arctic Thunder a ‘huge success’


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The USAF Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team strut their formation flying in front of the capacity crowd at the Arctic Thunder Open House on Saturday, July 28 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

John Hebert/For the Star

With a quarter of a million people attending Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s Arctic Thunder open house and air show Saturday and Sunday July 28-29, 2012 was a “huge success” for the biennial event, said JBER spokesman Luke Waack.

Too huge, in fact.

On Saturday, traffic backed up for hours at JBER’s gates. Some people never even made it on base.

“[Saturday] was a huge day,” Waack said. “We reached parking capacity. We just filled up.”

Waack attributed the massive crowds to an impressive lineup and sunny weather.

Waack said about 225,000 people were on base to enjoy the show last weekend.

“That’s a conservative estimate,” he said Sunday.

While the throng of spectators presented challenges, Waack said, he couldn’t have been happier with the turnout.

“We are so thankful for everyone to come out,” he said. “A lot of fun came out of this.”

Among the biggest draws were the U.S. Army Golden Knights, F-22 Demonstration Team and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, Waack said.

“The Golden Knights are a show in and of themselves,” he said.

When people weren’t fixated by the aeronautical spectacles flying overhead, air show patrons were enjoying a variety of delicious food. Everything from reindeer sausage to Chinese food was available.

Pilots were on hand for photos, parked planes could be toured and even face painting was offered.

Waack said the event gives Alaska residents the opportunity to see what JBER looks like on the interior of its gates.

“It’s a great opportunity to open our doors every two years and provide this inside look for the Anchorage community,” he said.

Putting on an event the size of Arctic Thunder is no easy task, Waack said. Several people spent the past 12 months working to have the show run as smoothly as possible, he said.

“So much went into planning this,” Waack said. “All this has been a year in the making.”

All the hard work paid off, Waack said.

“We’re looking at it as a huge success,” he said. “We’re looking forward to 2014 already."

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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