ZACK HOOPES ¦ Staff Writer
The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels stunt team will be visiting the resort today in preparation for their June appearance at this summer’s OC Air Show.PHOTO COURTESY BLUE ANGELS(Nov. 30, 2012) Ocean City residents shouldn’t be caught off guard this morning if it sounds like fighter jets are flying overhead – they just might be.
Cathy Bassett of B. Lilley Productions, which organizes the OC Air Show, said two pilots from the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels stunt team may – depending on their schedules and flight routing – be flying over the resort en route to Virginia’s Wallops Flight Facility.
The pilots, Lt. Ryan Chamberlain and LCDR Michael Cheng, will be landing at Wallops in order to visit the resort today, to begin planning for their appearance at the sixth edition of the OC Air Show on June 8 and 9, 2013.
“The Navy is deeply rooted in Maryland with the Naval Academy in Annapolis and their testing center at Patuxent River,” B. Lilley Productions head Bryan Lilley said in a press release.
“The Blue Angels inaugural performance at the OC Air Show is expected to draw record crowds and bring a tremendous economic boost to Ocean City.”
Established in 1946, the Blue Angels are seen by more than 11 million people each year, with show season running from March through November. The core team consists of 16 Naval and Marine officers — eight pilots for the F/A-18 stunt jets, three pilots for the team’s C-130 transport plane, affectionately named “Fat Albert,” and five support team officers.
The show itself features a multitude of stunt maneuvers at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour. Close formations of the eight jets — modified versions of the Navy’s standard fighter plane — are done with as little as 18 inches of space between moving aircraft.
The OC Air Show has been a major boon to the city since its inception in 2008. The show has served as an anchor point for June events that have successfully boosted the city’s tourism numbers. According to the city’s Demoflush system, which tallies population by wastewater usage, the 2012 event saw 267,564 people in the resort.
The boost in visitors, however, comes at some cost to public resources. Last year’s air show also saw a 16.2 percent increase in bus ridership over the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the event, which prompted some concern about bus safety and crowd control amongst city officials.
June 2013 is expected to be the most packed month that the resort has had in some time, witch the Dew Tour, another huge spectator draw, moving from August to June 20-23 next year.