Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dakota Thunder 2009

Dakota Thunder was a great airshow in Rapid City, South Dakota at the Ellsworth Airforce Base (KRCA)! I got a chance to go up there last weekend, and it was a great trip! Ellsworth Air Force Base is home of the B-1B bomber. There is also more information on Wikipedia about Ellsworth here. The Thunderbirds were there, 2 B-1Bs on the ground, 2 B-1Bs in the air, and A-10 demonstration, and lots of other stuff in the air show and on the ground to look at. And it was all free and not too crowded!

On the Ellsworth Air Force Base site, it indicates that approximately 40,000 people came to the Dakota Thunder. The area for the air show was quite large with many large planes on the ground, so it did not seem very crowded. There was also lots of food booths, so there were basically no lines for food which is fantastic for an air show. I found an article about Dakota Thunder in the Rapid City Journal here and another article about Dakota Thunder in the Rapid City Journal here.

Air Show

Grand Canyon AerialThunderbirds, Dakota Thunder

Thunderbirds, Dakota ThunderThunderbirds, Dakota Thunder

Thunderbirds, Dakota Thunder

2 B-1Bs Air Demonstration
B-1B, Dakota Thunder

A-10 Air Demonstration
A-10, Dakota Thunder

Planes, etc on the Ground

You could go inside a number of these planes and into the cockpit including the B-1B!

B-1B, Dakota ThunderB-1B, Dakota Thunder

C-130, Dakota ThunderC-17, Dakota Thunder

Getting There and Back

Flying ourselves in our C182 was simple. We could basically go direct KLMO-KRAP. We flew a little west at the end to do a pass near Mt Rushmore and then landed at KRAP. If we had filled out some paperwork, we could have landing at Ellsworth Air Force Base KRCA. But I was late in checking into it, so we landed at KRAP at the Westjet Air Center, and they had a very convenient shuttle to Ellsworth Air Force Base. The shuttle bus took us right up to the flight line and enabled us to bypass the long line of cars coming into the show as well as the distance from the parking to the flight line. It was very nice.

Mt Rushmore Aerial

On the way back, it was pretty nice and smooth too. We had to dodge some thunderstorms, but the route was still fairly direct. Flying both ways and going to the air show made for a little bit of a long day, but it was reasonable and a great show. Well worth it.


Dakota Thunder is an airshow I will recommend to anybody in the area that can make it!