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Arctic Thunder 2014 preps underway

By Bonney Bowman Photojournalist: Jared Mazurek - 7:45 PM July 17, 2014

Once every two years, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson welcomes the public to the Arctic Thunder Open House.

The event attracts thousands of people, eager to see the soldiers and airmen in action.

An event of this size takes a lot of preparation.

The service members responsible for putting the open house together are hard at work making sure everything goes smoothly when the gates are thrown open.

“We’re just trying to figure out the best way possible to where we can have a great welcome for both the local populace as well as the military folks who are going to come in and support the open house,” said F-22 instructor pilot Capt. Austin Skelley.

The base has to be ready because large crowds are coming.

“I think we had 225,000 people in 2012 come through in two days,” said 4-25 company commander Capt. Drew Cronkhite.

Getting all those people safely and quickly on base can be tough.

Organizers say they encourage spectators to arrive early.

“From 9 o’clock to 11, a lot of stuff happening on the ground,” Skelley said. “At 11 o’clock, the flying is going to start so we want people to be ready at 11 o’clock to take a seat and watch some of the amazing aerial events that we’re going to have.”

It’s not just a chance for the public to get a glimpse of military life.

Arctic Thunder also gives the Army and Air Force the chance to show the benefits of being a joint base.

“When you see paratroopers jumping out of airplanes, it doesn’t happen from the Army side unless we get a ride from the Air Force, so we definitely have to work together,” Cronkhite said.

Arctic Thunder 2014 is the weekend of July 26. Spectators are asked to use the Boniface and Richardson gates, which will open at 9 a.m.

For a complete schedule of events, click here.

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