OCEAN CITY, MD — The top jets of the U.S. Air Force will push the air show envelope this weekend as the beaches of Ocean City host a ‘stay safe and separate’ event amid the continuing Covid-19 restrictions.
The Air Force Thunderbirds, F-35A Lightning II, A-10C Thunderbolt II, and F-22A Raptor will provide the thrust and precision maneuvers. This show will mark the Thunderbirds first public full demonstration of 2020.
“We are looking forward to putting on a safe and successful aerial demonstration for Ocean City,” Thunderbird 12 officer Capt. Remoshay Nelson told AvGeekery.com on Monday. “2020 has been a challenging year for our nation; and we hope the show can bring hope, inspiration, and a bit of normalcy to onlookers during this difficult time.”
The coastal community surrounding Ocean City has stepped up to provide stronger safety measures to support the air show. Social distancing and face coverings on the Boardwalk are required, and the aerobatic box has been extended.
“We have worked with the Town of Ocean City to implement a series of ‘Stay Safe and Separate Initiatives’ which will help ensure the safety of spectators,” O.C. Airshow spokesperson Chris Dirato explained on Tuesday. “The stage for the air show is 10 miles wide and 1,000 feet high so spectators can watch from their backyard, balcony, boat, or the beach, making it the ideal event for the Ocean City community to host in the era of social distancing.”
Civilian aerobatic aircraft will also join the fun this weekend. The east coast’s first air show of the year will include an L-39 Albatros jet, aerobatic pilots Mike Wiskus and Scott Francis, and the historic B-29 Mitchell bomber Panchito.
The GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team’s six World War II-era SNJ-2s are scheduled each day. Their stunning flying maneuvers demonstrate those performed by the Greatest Generation 75 years ago.
“This weekend we’re dedicating our performance to those who served in World War II,” GEICO Skytypers flight leader Larry Arken explained. “Airshow spectators and aviation enthusiasts will witness our warbirds perform a dynamic demonstration designed by team members who served in the U.S. military.”
The squadron has redesigned one maneuver for Ocean City — the “pop up strafe.” Flying near show center, a new tactical strafe will offer a third element of aircraft to more closely match the military’s tactics of today.
Following their demo, two Skytypers will break away from the formation for a special event. The aircraft plan to race the Miss GEICO speed boat down the beach line for first place.
The air show is free to the public. Arrive early as traffic is expected to slow along Ocean Gateway and Highway 528.
(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)