The Little Rock Air Force Base announced recently that the 2012 Heritage and Heroes Open House and Air Show was the most successful airshow the base has ever hosted.
Preliminary estimates on attendance on Sept. 8 and 9 put the total spectator count at over 250,000, well of the previous airshow in 2010 that host 225,000 visitors. Additionally, the base far exceeded the food and beverage sales in 2010, and Pepsi Cola reported that more products were sold at this year’s event, called “Airpower Arkansas,” than are sold on the popular Riverfest in downtown Little Rock. This makes the Little Rock Air Force base event the largest two-day event in the state and event organizers are already preparing for a bigger guest list in 2014.
According to Airshow Director, Lt. Colonel Mike Kirby, “We will gear up for over 275,000 spectators on Oct. 17-18 2014 and plan to provide and even better event. We are very proud of the smooth traffic flow, and the quality of event that this year. Our number one goal was to showcase our Airmen, the military mission, and the pride we all have in protecting our nation and defending our freedom. I think it was mission accomplished.”
The attendance and food sales were not the only indicators that the show was successful. The base was also able to capitalize on newly released rules from the Air Force that allowed them to recognize commercial sponsors through an official sponsorship program. This year, the base reduced its required financial contribution by gathering sponsorship that totaled $164,000 from local businesses, and far exceeded the contributions gathered in 2010. The base used these funds to purchase quality performers, and defray the overhead costs of such a massive undertaking. At last tally, the base spent less than one dollar per person to host the 2-day event, which showcased air power and airmen doing what they do best.
Finally, the weather helped support the biggest airshow the base has ever seen, with clear blues skies, highs in the mid 80’s and a slight breeze out of the north. These factors, combined with detailed planning and preparation, reduced the overall need for medical assistance at this year’s show. Medical assistants reported that there was a 60 percent decrease in calls for assistance compared to the 2010 airshow. This is just another indicator of why the 2012 airshow will go in the record books as the best airshow that Little Rock Air Force base has ever hosted. The public can continue to track updates and post comments on the airshow website: www.littlerock.af.mil.