MELBOURNE, Fla. — The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force F-16C Viper are scheduled to headline the return of the Great Florida Airshow this weekend.
The family-fun event will feature top military and civilian performers over the Orlando-Melbourne International Airport. The public can also get up close with several static aircraft displays including a C-130 Hurricane Hunter.
Gates will open at 8 a.m. on May 15 and 16, and nearby parking is free. All single tickets and ticket packages are available only online and are not sold at the gate.
Blue Angels: ‘This is Gonna be a Gigantic Year’
Celebrating their 75th anniversary season, the Blue Angels six jets are scheduled to arrive on Thursday to prepare for the two-day show. The team’s new C-130J Super Hercules known as Fat Albert will arrive loaded with equipment and personnel to support the flight demonstrations.
“This is gonna be a gigantic year with the brand new Super Hornets and the C-130J,” Blue Angels executive officer and Navy commander Todd Royles told AvGeekery.com. “What a major milestone of 75 years of this historic, and just a national treasure of an organization.”
The Great Florida Airshow is the Blue Angels fourth scheduled show site of the year. Their Super Hornet jets are 30% larger than their previous legacy Hornet jets.
“With the Super Hornet, it’s a bigger jet so we have a little more power and little more thrust,” Blue Angels opposing solo pilot Lt. Cary Rickoff explained to AvGeekery.com. “Guests can expect the same Blue Angels maneuvers and precision that they are use to.
Rickoff added, “The delta (formation) will be bigger and so it will block out the Sun a little more.”
High speed passes and dizzying cork screw turns will highlight the maneuvers of the F-16C Viper each day. Led by pilot Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, the Viper Demonstration Team
“Support the air show community,” Maj. Schmitz told this reporter. “People putting on crazy shows, and performers doing crazy aerobatics — crazier than I do!”
In addition to the military’s current aircraft, the nation’s top civilian aerobatic pilots will showcase their flying skills. Pilots Rob Holland, Scott “Scooter” Yoak, and Mike Goulian are just a few scheduled to perform over the airfield.
Guests of all ages can learn more about the U.S. military with select virtual reality displays. The Air Force Experience and the Navy SEAL’s Nimitz mission simulation are scheduled to attend the show.
(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)