Plans are moving ahead for the 22nd annual Black Pilots of America Operation Skyhook, which begins next week at the Pine Bluff Regional Airport Grider Field.
At a meeting of the Pine Bluff Aviation Commission Thursday, Airport Manager Doug Hale said he has built up a checklist of things that need to be done based on previous events and is “slowly chipping away” at that list.
“There are a number of things that we don’t do until next week,” Hale said. “The Police Department is online. The Fire Department is online. Pine Bluff Transit is online. The liability insurance policy premium has been paid.”
Hale said that, in the past, the Pine Bluff Convention Center’s Advertising and Promotions Commission has covered some of the costs of hosting the event, but with former director Greg Gustek stepping down, “Things have changed.”
“What we used to get taken care of with a phone call, now we had to submit an application and send it to them,” Hale said. “I understand they’re meeting next week” and will consider it.
He said the commission has also provided funding for previous events and provided members a copy of a memorandum showing a $400 allowance for food for the safety meeting and a Friday brunch, along with $300 for advertising support. In addition, members of the BPA will receive full-service aviation gas at a self-service price, or a discount of 25-cents per gallon.
He said the Grider Field Restaurant will be open for the fly-in on both Saturday and Sunday but will close Monday for Memorial Day.
By unanimous vote, the commission approved spending the $700.
Commission Chairman Ken Johnson, who is also a member of the BPA, said he participated in a conference call about the upcoming event and members of the BPA “are excited about coming back.”
“They all talked about the hospitality they are shown here every year, so hats off to everyone in the community,” Johnson said.
New Commission member Wanda V. Neal, who is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce Redcoats and was assigned to coordinate the welcoming ceremonies Friday morning, said that ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has been invited to attend.
She also encouraged commission members to wear red shirts for the welcoming ceremony.
Pilots will conduct programs and offer rides to youngsters during the visit. The schedule of events will include:
Friday, May 25: 9:30 a.m. — Official Welcome to Pine Bluff; 11 a.m. — Flour Bomb Drop; 3 p.m. — Young Eagles Flights (free airplane rides for children, weather permitting.)
Saturday, May 26: 10 a.m. — Pilot Proficiency Competition; 3 p.m. — Young Eagles Flights.
Sunday, May 27: 10 a.m. — Balloon Burst and Spot Landing; 3 p.m. — Formation Flying, Young Eagle Flights.
Details: Grider Field, 870-534-4131, or visit Black Pilots of America website at http://www.bpapilots.org/