PINE BLUFF, Ark. – The Black Pilots of America will return to Pine Bluff, Arkansas with their Memorial Day Fly-In, “Operation Skyhook.” Back for the 22nd consecutive year, member chapters will fly in from across the United States into Pine Bluff’s Grider Field Municipal Airport for a weekend of fun, aviation comradery and serious flying competition.
The activities begin on Friday, May 25 at 9:30 a.m. with the official Welcome to Pine Bluff, followed by the Flour Bomb Drop Competition at 11:00 a.m. On Saturday, May 26 the Pilot Proficiency Competition begins at 10:00 a.m. and on Sunday, May 27 at 10:00 a.m. the pilots will compete in the Balloon Burst and Spot Landing. The real fun begins each day at the conclusion of daily competitions as generous BPA, Inc. members from across the country volunteer to give airplane rides – “Young Eagle” flights – to hundreds of enthusiastic kids.
The weekend culminates Sunday evening with an awards banquet where trophies are awarded to the members who have demonstrated their superior flying skills, as well as the chapter with the highest accumulated points. There is also an individual “Top Gun Award” for the supreme pilot accumulating the highest number of points.
“We are thrilled the Black Pilots of America have called Pine Bluff home for the past 22 years,” said Ken Johnson, member of the local Black Pilots Association and chairman of the Pine Bluff Aviation Commission. “Operation Skyhook has a significant impact on Pine Bluff’s local economy with all the hotels, restaurants and commerce this event generates. This is definitely Pine Bluff’s time to shine.”
The event draws a tremendous number of spectators from the surrounding area, and all events taking place at Grider field have free admission. Grider Field Restaurant will be open Friday, May 25 from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27, from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.