The rush of jet engines this weekend will signal to Central Florida that the air show is back in town. Daredevil pilots will take to the skies above Sanford to perform stunts that are sure to dazzle the thousands gathered below.
The Orlando Air and Space Show is Oct. 16-17 at Orlando Sanford International Airport with a star-studded lineup of performers. U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the F-18 Super Hornet, F-22 Raptor, MV-22 Osprey and a P-51 Mustang will be among aerial performers.
“The Thunderbirds are always a fan favorite. They’re coming in with a different show than they’ve had in years past,” said Chris Dirato, the show’s director of public relations. “I think the Osprey is going to be well-received, that’s not something you normally see performing at shows.”
Here’s what to expect from this weekend of high-flying fun.
General admission or first class?
It is possible to witness some air show action for free from various parts of Sanford, as the airport sits about 2 miles southeast of the city’s historic downtown. But for those wishing for a front-row view of the aerial acts, a range of tickets (which include parking) are available.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, only online advance tickets will be sold. General admission costs $29 per adult or $19 per child ages 6-12. Tickets are sold by the day; no two-day passes are available because the air show lineup remains the same on both days.
Lawn boxes provide friends and family with a 12-by-15-foot reserved viewing area for up to six people. Larger groups can reserve a double box. These range from $198-$299 depending on the tier; some tiers are sold out.
Preferred seating tickets feature reserved seating and spacing between parties, plus a shade tent and stands for refreshments. These start at $69 per adult and $49 per child ages 3-12.
Photo pit tickets are $139 each and give photographers access to the action in front of the crowd line. This area includes a small tented area with seating, water and snacks.
The top tier of tickets, the Flight Line Club, brings a VIP viewing experience. Tents are set up for dining and getting out of the sun with a catered lunch, beer, wine and soft drinks. These passes cost $199 per adult and $165 per child ages 3-12.
Stars of the show
The air show takes place during daytime hours, but the sky will be filled with stars during two days of aerial entertainment.
“You bring your kids out to the show and explain to them what these planes are all about, how they protect our freedom every day,” Dirato said. “It’s not only for the aviation enthusiasts, it’s for the general public.”
Here are some highlights from a roster of nearly a dozen performers and teams.
U.S. Air Force fighter-jet teams: The Thunderbirds are at the forefront of many minds when thinking about the stars of the Central Florida Show. A team of six skilled pilots flying F-16 Fighting Falcons will unveil a new show with sneak passes and close-formation flying. Other Air Force jets at the show include the F-22 Raptor, a twin-engine craft with more thrust than any other fighter, and a C-130J Hercules.
MV-22 Osprey: This Marine and Navy aircraft is highly versatile with rotors that tilt, allowing it to operate as a helicopter when taking off and landing vertically. Once airborne, the Osprey can convert into a turboprop aircraft.
Navy Legacy Flight: The F-18 Super Hornet and F4U Corsair will fly in formation to showcase the past and future of Naval aviation.
SOCOM Para-Commandos: The United States Special Operations Command Parachute Team features volunteers from the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and U.S. government civilians who are assigned to the Special Operations Command.
Quick Silver P-51D Mustang: Scott “Scooter” Yoak will perform a death-defying aerobatic display in a restored WWII-era aircraft.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, tickets are only available in advance online or by phone. No tickets will be sold at the gate. Hand sanitizer stations will be set up throughout the show site. Those with reserved seating will have spacing between other parties.
Gates will open for the Orlando Air And Space Show at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Flight Line Club opens at 10 a.m. each day. All major acts will perform on both days. The aerial portion of the show runs from noon to approximately 4 p.m.
Parking is available on-site and included with each ticket. Orlando Sanford International Airport is at 1200 Red Cleveland Blvd. in Sanford. Re-entry is not permitted.
What to bring/not to bring
Fans are encouraged to bring sunscreen, ear protection and up to one liter of sealed bottled water. General admission attendees should bring chairs. A personal-sized umbrella is allowed for shade. Backpacks and bags are allowed, as are wagons and strollers, but will be subject to search upon entry. Cameras and video recorders are allowed.
Smoking and vaping is prohibited. Guests should not bring barbecue grills or pets.
For more information and tickets, visit airandspaceshow.com.