Prepare for an exhilarating weekend as the Black Pilots of America (BPA) touch down in Pine Bluff, Arkansas for their annual fly-in event, “Operation Skyhook.” Member chapters from all corners of the country converge at historic Grider Field at Pine Bluff Regional Airport for a weekend of thrilling aviation competition, camaraderie, and non-stop excitement in the skies!

The activities begin on Friday, May 24 at 9:30 a.m. with the official Welcome to Pine Bluff, followed by the Pilot Proficiency Competition at 11:15 a.m. On Saturday, May 25 the Flour Bomb Drop begins at 10:00 a.m. and the Balloon Burst and Spot Landing Competition will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 26. The real fun begins each day immediately following the daily competitions as generous BPA 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 on 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 $15,000 grant for event funding for the 2024 Operation Skyhook. Sheri Storie, executive director for the Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission, stated, “We take pride in supporting the Black Pilots of America and are delighted to welcome them back ‘home’ to Pine Bluff for Operation Skyhook. This event not only enhances our local economy, but it also unites us and fosters a strong sense of community pride.” The Holiday Inn Express has been the designated host hotel for this event for more than two decades. Kimberly Tanner, General Manager, said, “The Black Pilots of America consistently bring revenue to our hotel, which is always a plus. I enjoy their presence every year and their events provide a joyful atmosphere where families of all ages can have fun. They have a significant impact on the community through their engaging activities and informative presentations.”

All events taking place at Grider Field have free admission. Grider Field Restaurant will be open Friday, May 24 from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, May 25 and 26, from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. The Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission provides funding for the purpose of promoting tourist facilities and events that fit within the Commission’s mission of creating economic vitality through tourism and developing unique visitor experiences. The A&P Commission also provides the majority of funding for the Pine Bluff Convention Center facilities maintained and operated by the Pine Bluff Civic Auditorium Complex Commission.