The Pine Bluff Grider Field Aviation Museum Inc. will host an annual fundraiser on Saturday, May 20, featuring pilots conducting aerial maneuvers. The organization hopes to raise money to preserve a World War II-era barrack at Pine Bluff Regional Airport-Grider Field and convert it into a museum. The event will start at 11 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. and feature pilots flying over Grider Field from about noon until 1 p.m.


Tickets can be purchased at the Grider Field office and at the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce business exposition from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. They can also be purchased the day of the event. Tyson Chicken is sponsoring the event, whose cook teams will prepare chicken meals for $10 each. Proceeds benefit the aviation museum.


“We are hoping to have a good turnout,” Airport manager Doug Hale said. “We encourage the citizens to come out and support the museum.”


In other news, the Black Pilots of America will return to Grider Field from May 25 to May 28 for the 21st year of interactive exercises dubbed Operation Skyhook. The pilots showcase their flying skills by competing in exercises, mingling with guests and answering questions. They will provide flights to area children provided the weather is favorable.


Pine Bluff Aviation Commissioner Ken Johnson expects about 120 pilots and guests from across the United States to fly in 45 airplanes. Hale requested the commission allocate a total of $700 to support Operation Skyhook. It consists of $400 for food and $300 for advertising. Commission Chairman Ken Johnson recused himself from a discussion and vote on Hale’s request. Commissioners Dr. Michele Pashkevich, Harvey Sizemore, and Tommy Palmer voted to accept the allocation of this money.


“Progress is being made toward that event,” Hale said. [I am] looking forward to a safe fly-in, a memorable and enjoyable experience for all of our BPA members who are friends by now. … Numerous city departments do a lot behind the scenes to support this event.”


Hale thanked Pine Bluff Transit, Pine Bluff Police Department, Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department, the Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Department, the Pine Bluff Convention and Tourism Bureau, and the office of Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington.


“Without their help, it would not be as successful as it is,” Hale said. “


In other news, Mike Lain, deputy commander of the Arkansas Wing 067 Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, has asked to put up a recruiting booth display at Operation Skyhook. The Civil Air Patrol has added a search-and-rescue pilot and has 18 members including seven pilots.


“We still have airplanes stationed here,” Lain said. “This afternoon, I am scheduled to do another check ride with one of our pilots to get him back active. We have done approximately 26 hours of search and rescue training since my last report. We are growing and looking for members.”


Lain thanked the airport commission for supporting the Civil Air Patrol and his business Mike’s Flight Service.