report by : Thierry LETELLIER
I was led to make a visit to Alaska , ELMENDORF AFB in particular; because the ALASKA AIRCOMMAND was at a turning point of his history. Twelfth and Nineteenth Fighter Squadrons were supposed to leave their F-15C for 1 squadron of F-22A in the continuing Third Wing . 90th Fighter Squadron was waiting to change his F-15E for the F-22A to become the second squadron with the Raptor in 3rd Wing .
Eighteenth Fighter squadron was waiting to become 18 Agressor Squadon expecting to gain some colours on his F-16C. 355 Fighter Squadron with his A-10A was supposed to leave EIELSON AFB following the BRAC 2005 recommandation.Last change was for 517 Airlift Squadron , supposed to leave his venerable C-130H for the C-17A.The occasion occured with the announcement of Artic Thunder 2006, the biennial Airshow held in Elmendorf AFB in august . When we arrived in Anchorage Intl Airport , we were not surprised by the weather and my fears were revailed exact .
The first day of the show began under a constant cold rain fully comparable with northern Europe a little bit later in the saison . At least fourty per cent of the flying display was obliged to cancel due to poor weather. Nevertheless the brave Alaskan population came to the event in great number waiting the end of the afternoon to get some poor sunny spels. The well filled static display permitted to wait until mid afternoon to see the flying display to start again.
On Sunday , a slight weather improvement gave the way to the scheduled flying display program.During this display two of the future partners in the Alaskan skies were displayed. In first position came the F-22A Raptor from Nellis AFB – NV and at the end of its presentation it joined the USAF Heritage flight fly-pass where it joined a P-51 Mustang , a 12 FS F-15C and a 355 FS A-10A.
The C-17A Globemaster from AETC at Altus AFB – OK came after . The show display finished with Fat ALBERT and The BLUE ANGELS . Some opportunities of good pictures were permitted during The ANGELS Show with a magnificent mountain background but between the clouds…