Brown: Long live the Airshow

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Spectators gathered to watch the Barksdale Defenders of Liberty Space and Air Show Saturday, May 18. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

Last Saturday and Sunday (and Thursday and Friday, too with practice sessions taking place), the skies above Bossier City were once again filled with planes of all types and sizes as the bi-annual Barksdale Defenders of Liberty Space and Air Show took to the local airways. The weather cooperated for the most part and the show went on as scheduled without a hitch.

This year, there were no Navy Blue Angels or Air Force Thunderbirds. Instead, this year’s show was headlined by the Canadian Snowbirds. Flying acts also included: the B-52, B-2, B-1, F-35, KC-135 and the U.S. Army Black Daggers.

After reading some information that crossed my path last week, I was amazed by the ultra modern, ultra high speed F-35s. The F-35 has a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 (or 1.6 times the speed of sound). And, it pulls a maximum “G-Force” of 8-9. That’s a force of 8- to 9-times your body weight pulling down on you. Not for the weak or faint of heart, by any means.

Randy Brown

This Barksdale Air Show is always a great event and something that many people from all around our region look forward to attending. Besides all of the fun and festivities and the fact that Barksdale Air Force Base is essentially hosting a public open house during the air show, there is also a huge economic impact factor that benefits both Bossier City-Shreveport as a result of the air show.

I have often wondered when the Barksdale Air Show actually began. For sure, I remember the air show from when I was a child growing up in the late 1960”s and 70’s. I also remember that for many years, the air show was a part of the annual Holiday-In-Dixie Festival celebrated in our area each and every April. 

As a child, three things went together in my mind at this time of year: Holiday-In-Dixie (and the associated carnival on the Shreveport downtown riverfront), the Barksdale Air Show, and my elementary school “Field Day.” All of these events took place together over the span of a couple of weeks each and every spring.  

However, as I asked above, when did the BAFB Air Show actually begin? I did some research on this and much to my surprise, I found out that the roots of the Barksdale Air Force Base Air Show trace all the way back to February of 1933 when BAFB held its dedication ceremony. According to information that I found on BAFB’s website, some 60,000 people attended the air show that day, and as we all know, the attendance numbers have grown by leaps and bounds ever since. I remember that we ran a special edition on the 80th Anniversary BAFB air show back in 2013 but even then, it did not actually sink into my mind that the roots of the air show trace all of the way back to the very beginning of BAFB. I have always thought that the air show was something that came along at a later time. 

Well, again, what a huge impact, both socially and economically, the BAFB Air Show has made upon our entire area over the last 86 years. The BAFB Air Show is a bright shining star on the list of the many major successes that our area has achieved and it is something to be celebrated.

I also spent some time on both the Thursday and Friday afternoons prior to the air show looking skyward, as practice for the air show begins. To me, the BAFB Air Show has always been a sign of Spring and the soon to come Memorial Day weekend. So, long live the Barksdale Air Force Base Air Show. Thank you to the people that organized the BAFB Air Show some 86 years ago and also, thank you to all of those that have been a part of keeping it going for all of these years.

Randy Brown is publisher of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He can be reached at rbrown@bossierpress.com