Fort Lauderdale Air Show flies above COVID-19 concerns as spectators — masked and not — pack the beaches

Wayne K. Roustan, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·3 min read

The Fort Lauderdale Air Show that was postponed by the pandemic in May took off in spite of it on Saturday.

Among the thousands at the beach, about half wore face masks and half did not, but the crowd was spread out.

Jeff Boone was among those without a mask.

“I’m not worried about it,” he said, as jets roared overhead. “I have a mask for places that I need to go inside, but I’m going to live my life and if it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.’

Boone and Joe Drake flew in from Cincinnati to attend the University of Miami Hurricanes game against Georgia Tech Saturday night, but it too was postponed by the coronavirus.

“We’re a little bit bummed,” said Drake, an Air Force Reserve veteran. “But, we were going to come over here [to the Air Show] anyhow then go to Miami and fly back [Sunday].”

Signs were posted along State Road A1A between Sunrise Boulevard and Northeast 19th Street notifying show-goers that masks were required.

Visiting Texans Cori Bishop and Matt Dahmer wore theirs.

“Everyone’s wearing these,” said Bishop, tugging on her mask. “On the beach, you wear a mask,” added Dahmer.

The Fort Lauderdale Air Show had about a dozen COVID-19 safeguards in place along the beach.

Virus aside, many of the spectators are more likely to be suffering from stiff necks and earaches after staring up at the deafening F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Viper, and A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” that screamed across the sky for more than two hours.

A C-17 Globemaster III, Ms. GEICO speedboat, GEICO Skytypers, Lucas aerobatic bi-plane and other acts were also featured.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds were the pre-pandemic headliners but their participation was scrapped because their seasonal touring schedule ended last month.

The pandemic didn’t spoil the plans of Oakland Park resident Michael Knott who pedaled his bicycle built-for-three about six miles to the beach with 2-year-old daughter Piper and 6-year-old son Quinn. They were decked out in masks, earplugs, helmets and sunglasses.

“[The pandemic] is a huge thing,” said Knott. “Usually we’d be down off Sunrise [Boulevard], but it was absolutely packed so we rode back and forth on the bike until we found a place that’s pretty far from the crowd.”

The Fort Lauderdale Air Show continues from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Be aware, State Road A1A will be closed between Sunrise Boulevard and Northeast 19th Court from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. so expect slow traffic in the area.

There are roughly 40 public parking lots, garages and metered spaces near the beach between Oakland Park Boulevard and Southeast 17th Street, at $1-$3 per hour.

Food and drink vendors are plentiful and will accept both cash and credit. Bring essentials such as masks and sanitizer, backpacks (there’s a security inspection upon entry), coolers (also checked), beach chairs, umbrellas and sunscreen. Cameras are also allowed. Don’t bring personal tents or awnings, barbecue grills or outside alcohol.

Sun Sentinel writer Phillip Valys contributed to this report.

Wayne K. Roustan can be reached at wkroustan@sunsentinel.com or 561-379-6119 or on Twitter @WayneRoustan

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