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Ocean City

Soaring Success: OC Air Show 2021

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Fly Over the Beach. Image Courtesy of the OC Air Show.

By Logan Dubel

The roaring jets have departed, and the 2021 Ocean City Air Show has concluded, wrapping up one of the resort’s strongest events of the summer season. The patriotic show, which ran June 19th and 20th, signaled a return to normalcy in the town, as thousands of visitors purchased tickets, watched along the Boardwalk, and even tuned in online through the AirDotShow Livestream. The 2021 show, centered between 16th and 17th Streets, marked the 14th time the Air Show has taken place in Ocean City.

Weather conditions were slightly overcast and windy on Saturday but picture-perfect on Sunday. All performances with the exception of the opening act, the SOCOM Para-Commandos, went off without a hitch on Saturday due to the slightly inclement weather.

Tickets sold out for Saturday’s edition of the Air Show, and Sunday also brought in huge crowds. Ticketed areas included the Flight Line Club VIP, Drop Zone Beach, and VIP Skybox. The Flight Line Club was set up directly on the beach with tents and chairs and included a catered lunch along with drinks all day. The Drop Zone Beach, also located on the sand, featured separated spaces for spectators and their families to watch the show and was a prime viewing spot. Top-tier viewing took place in the VIP Skybox, where visitors rose above all the action and saw the Air Show from an elevated perspective while enjoying a fully catered lunch and suite. True VIPs such as Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan watched the show from high in the sky.

The 2021 OC Air Show was much easier to manage than the modified 2020 program, which included countless measures to keep people safe and separated. The show always runs in June but shifted to August last year due to the pandemic.

For those looking for patriotism and hope, the Air Show certainly delivered. Kicking off with the national anthem and the Para-Commandos falling from the sky while hoisting the American flag, the colors of red, white, and blue were prominent throughout the event.

The visually and audibly striking performances included the GEICO Skytypers, MD Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II’s, Air Force F-22 Raptor Demo, and none other than the spectacular headlining act, the Air Force Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds can reach speeds of up to 1,000 mph while soaring through the sky.

Carlos Paonessa, Crew Member, F-22 Raptor Demo Team and Kevin Deweese, Team Chief, F-22 Raptor Demo Team.

There was no question in the minds of spectators after the conclusion of the Thunderbirds’ performance that they are the best in the world. The six Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon planes, which closed out the show, presented 40 maneuvers in their presentation that lasted approximately an hour. The Thunderbirds were the true definition of a grand finale. Prior to the arrival of the Thunderbirds, organizers presented a lengthy introduction, saluting the men and women of the Air Force along with a message of strength about the nation’s military. The maneuvers were extremely exciting to watch, as the Thunderbirds presented a brand new flight routine for the first time in 38 years.

From start to finish, the show featured compelling commentary from narrator Larry Strain, who is well-known in the air show community for his unique announcing style. Along with Strain’s booming voice, music synchronized with the jets’ maneuvers blasted through speakers and carried across the beach and Boardwalk, forcing visitors to stop in their tracks and take a look at the wild sights in the sky.

While nothing quite compares to seeing the action on the beach, the free Livestream presented by AirDotShow is surely impressive. The stream includes a look inside the cockpit, cameras showing the aerobatic maneuvers from all angles, and a chance to listen to both the show narration and conversations between the air boss and pilots. Organizers announced during Sunday’s act that more than 8,000 people watched the previous day’s performances online.

For those that missed the show, the exciting event will surely return in June 2022. However, there are opportunities to catch the aerobatic performances sooner, with shows scheduled in New York at the end of August and down in Orlando in mid-October. Click here to for more information about how to watch these performances online.

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