After a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Pilots of America will return to Pine Bluff, Arkansas with their Memorial Day Fly-In, “Operation Skyhook.”

Member chapters will fly in from across the United States to historic Grider Field at Pine Bluff Regional Airport for a weekend of fun, aviation comradery and serious flying competition.

The activities begin on Friday, May 27 at 9:30 a.m. with the official Welcome to Pine Bluff, followed by the Flour Bomb Drop Competition at 11:15 a.m. On Saturday, May 28 the Pilot Proficiency begins at 10:00 a.m. and Formation is scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m. On Sunday, May 29 at 10:00 a.m. the pilots will compete in the Balloon Burst and Spot Landing. The real fun begins each day immediately following the daily competitions as generous BPA, Inc. members from across the country volunteer to give free airplane rides – “Young Eagle” flights – to hundreds of enthusiastic kids until 5:00 p.m.

The weekend culminates Sunday evening with an awards banquet where trophies are awarded to the members who have demonstrated their superior flying skills, as well as the chapter with the highest accumulated points. There is also an individual “Top Gun Award” for the supreme pilot accumulating the highest number of points.

The Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission awarded BPA a $10,000 event funding grant for the 2022 Operation Skyhook event.

“We are proud to support the Black Pilots of America and are thrilled to have them return “home” to Pine Bluff for Operation Skyhook,” said Sheri Storie, executive director for the Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission. “We have missed the members of BPA and the event itself over the past two years when it was cancelled due to COVID. Not only does this event boost our local economy, and has for over 20 years, but it also brings us together and instills a sense of community pride.”

Ken Johnson, a local aviator and Chairman of the Pine Bluff Aviation Commission, said he is delighted to see BPA return to Pine Bluff over the years. When BPA was looking for a place to host this event, he extended the invitation to Pine Bluff. At the time he had no idea that the event would continue for 23 years by having the traditional “Operation Skyhook” in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

All events taking place at Grider Field have free admission. Grider Field Restaurant will be open Friday, May 27 from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29, from 11:0 a.m.-3:00 p.m.