Story by SrA Eric Fisher on 07/18/2019Eielson hosted the 2019 Arctic Lightning Airshow July 13, 2019, the first airshow to be hosted here in more than 10 years.
More than 12,000 attendees had a unique opportunity to see both of the U.S. Air Force's 5th generation aircraft, with demonstrations by the Air Force F-35 Demonstration Team and 3rd Wing's F-22 Raptors. Other acts included the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, the T-33 Acemaker and the Alaska Air National Guard 168th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135 Stratotanker.
Before the opening ceremony, a group of Air Force recruits in the local Delayed Entry Program, a U.S. Air Force program where recruits enlist but must wait to go through basic military training, had the opportunity to take the oath of enlistment in front of the F-35.
Alaska Governor Michael J. Dunleavy and Col. Benjamin Bishop, 354th Fighter Wing commander, kicked off the airshow with opening remarks.
"Today is an opportunity for those of us in uniform to thank the community for the amazing support you provide each and everyday," said Bishop.
The PACAF F-16 demonstration started off the aerial demonstrations, followed by the F-35 Lightning II and T-33 Acemaker.
A joint forces demonstration gave spectators a first-hand experience of what it would look like if U.S. forces were to take over an airfield, along with a demonstration of a KC-135 refueling an F-22 mid-air before leading into the F-22 demonstration.
"My family has really enjoyed the airshow," said Joel Mosier, a spectator from Houston, Texas. "The thing I've enjoyed is allowing my kids to be around the military, it's exciting to see all the planes and to try out all of the different gear and equipment."
Finally the airshow wrapped up with a three ship flyover by the KC-135, F-16 and F-35, leaving spectators in awe as they made their last pass.
Throughout the day-long event, both members of the local and base communities came together to enjoy a fantastic display of airpower and get a glimpse of Eielson and Alaska's future with the arrival of the F-35 in April 2020.