Jason Brown had an idea flown past him—literally. Two years ago, the 43rd Annual Women’s Air Race Classic raced across the country and stopped at the Saline County Regional Airport in Bryant. A crowd of around 300 was expected to greet the group but instead nearly 3,000 spectators showed up. That sparked an idea from Brown, the Bryant Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. Since then, he’s been working on an air show called Wings Over Bryant, which will be held on Saturday, June 19th, which falls on Father’s Day weekend, at the airport.
“I was like, ‘Hmm, we need to do an air show,” he said. “So, we started the process, and that is where it stemmed from.”
Gates will open at 10 a.m. with the show beginning at 1 p.m. and running till around 4 p.m. Several air acts are planned as well as aircraft to view and the Lil’ Aviator’s kid zone with activities for children. There will also be an array of food trucks available, Brown said. Children 12 and under receive free gate admission, and adult tickets are $20 online or at the gate and $15 at all Big Red convenience store locations in Pulaski, Saline, Grant and Garland counties. Patrons are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. A VIP area with seating will also be available. Parking for the event will be available at the airport and as lots fill up, parking with shuttles will be available at the schools surrounding the airport.
Sixteen sponsors are included in Wings Over Bryant. Arkansas Heart Hospital is the title sponsor with Arvest Bank, McLarty Nissan of Benton, First Security Bank, and Big Red Stores as presenting sponsors.
The Brooke Andrews State Farm Agency is the VIP sponsor, and other sponsors include the City of Bryant, Arego’s Guns, Coca-Cola Consolidated Bottling Co., Henderson State University Department of Aviation, First Electric Cooperative, Bank of England Mortgage, Clinton National Airport, Fence Brokers, DC Aviation Maintenance, DNT Media, Midtown-Mechanical Services, Eagle Bank Mortgage, Clark&Co Realty and Whetstone Law Firm.
The show is the only one scheduled in the state this year and one of the largest in the country, Brown said.
“We are just excited about doing this for Bryant and for Saline County, and for the United States,” he said. “We really want people to enjoy the show.”
Brown and a committee of 30 members from “all walks of life” in Saline County have worked hard to put the event together. Brown said he has a contact who has organized around 100 air shows who sent him potential acts for the program. Brown then OK’d the acts and contacted them. A Federal Aviation Administration contact has helped secure all of the paperwork necessary to have the show approved, and Brown has worked with all law enforcement officials to secure the grounds.
“When this thing finally gets done, we are all going to sit back the next day and go, ‘Ahh,’” he said. “This is going to be an amazing thing we are able to do for our community. It is great to see something this big actually happen. Working with the Airport Commission has been a blessing, working with [the City of Bryant] has been a blessing, and working with everyone in the community on a project like this is just fun.”
The show itself includes 14 acts with 153 minutes of pulse-pounding excitement from performers who hail from across the nation. The event begins with skydivers (presenting the National Anthem), and ends with them as well.
Brown is particularly excited about two acts. Kevin Coleman, a pilot for Red Bull and recognized as one of the top pilots in the country, is a former U.S. National Champion and has been seen on numerous televised competitions. He will be performing in Act No. 9 at 2:30 p.m.
At 2:58 p.m., Act No. 12, Team Aeroshell, will perform. Brown said they are the No. 1 air show act in the United States. The four planes fly in formation, do wild aerobatic maneuvers with a lot of smoke, and also fly individually.
Brown expects many children to attend the event with their dads and families. The Midtown Mechanical Services Little Aviators Children’s Area will be $10 to enter and will include a rock climbing wall, inflatables, airplane train and more.
A large variety of food vendors will be set up on the grounds, including Jimmy Jerk Chicken and BBQ, Riverside Grocery and Catering, Kona Ice, Smoke Beast BBQ, LLC, Our Mobile Kitchen by Chef Serge and Trippy Hippy Tacos.
Brown said the event, which will be held annually, was designed to be an economic boost for the area. The crowd is expected to be between 35,000 and 50,000 people. He expects many of those in attendance to travel from long distances. The Chamber has heard from aviation fans and families from all over the United States, who have expressed interest and plan to visit the area.
“I know people are literally coming in from all over the country,” he said. “People from all over the United States are calling and emailing us about it. This is literally going to put Saline County on the map. People around the world and the United States that haven’t heard of Saline County will know where we are now.”For more information and to watch videos of all of the acts performing in Wings Over Bryant, visit wingsoverbryant.com.