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Tips for Watching the Air Show Like a Local

Watch the Air Show Like a Local

Excitement is in the air, literally, in Ocean City this weekend.  Ocean City, Maryland is one of six stops on the touring air show circuit produced by Brian Lilly. This year, the Air Force elite Thunderbirds will headline the event.  Heading into its 14th year, the OC Air Show will include:

  • F-22 Raptor Demo Team
  • A-10 Thunderbolt II
  • SOCOM Para-Commandos
  • Geico Skytypers
  • Mike Wiscus with his bi-wing acrobatic plane
  • C-17 Globemaster III
  • L-39 Cold War Era Jet Demo 
  • C-5M Super Galaxy
  • Air Force heritage Flight Team
  • UH-72A Lakota

If you have never visited Ocean City for the Air Show before, be prepared for crowds.  The streets are full and it’s hard to find parking.  Get where you want to be early and stay for the show – or a great day on the beach with some amazing aircraft overhead.   

1. Watch the show on Friday if you want fewer crowds.

The biggest way to avoid the crowds, but still see all the shows is to come in on Thursday night and spend the day watching the show.  Friday actually has more flying.  The pilots are practicing so you will see more passes. It’s not as organized and you can’t listen to the commentary at the Flight Zone, but you see most of the planes and its pretty spectacular.

2. Watch the Ocean City Air Show on The Pier

This one might need some strategic planning and early wake-up calls, but the fishing pier provides a beautiful perspective of the Atlantic Ocean on a good day and a great view of the planes overhead. Imagine what it’ll be like with those planes screaming past you while you’re standing literally on top of the ocean! You might want to bring your own shade with this option though.

3. Watch from the beach 

The Flight Line Club is a ticketed VIP area and gives you beach chairs in a private beach area.  There are tents for shade and to enjoy your food.  You will hear the professional narration and get lunch included in the price.  You only get one parking space, so plan to car pool!.  This VIP area is between 16t and 17th Streets.  

If you don’t want to pay and you don’t care about the professional narration, you can look anything up online anyway, you can just enjoy Ocean City’s 10 miles of beach or 2.9 miles of the Boardwalk and still all the aerial activity.  There are bathrooms off the boardwalk and in the flight zone.  Otherwise, plan to stay close to your hotels or head to one of the restaurants with outdoor seating.  

4. Watch from the only brewery on the Boardwalk

Backshore Brewing has a big outdoor eating area on the boardwalk at 10th Street.  Order a cold beer and look up as the teams fly by.  There is a limited menu at the brewery but the food is coming from Hammerheads.

5. Watch the Ocean City Air Show from the water

Not a fan of crowds and annoyed by parking logistics? Skip the land route and just go straight to the ocean. Instead of rubbing elbows with complete strangers, you can be a little choosier with your guests and maybe squeeze in a little fishing in between. Hopefully they won’t get scared by the Bombers! Bring a boat or take a trip to one of Ocean City’s several marinas to get a more secluded air show experience. Check out the regulations on where you can drop anchor before you set sail this weekend.  You could also schedule a trip with the OC Bay Hopper and see the planes from the bayside.

6. Private party in a condo

For a different angle and for a full weekend trip, consider getting the gang together and renting a room someplace. There’s dozens of hotels on the boards or facing the beach – all you really need in this case is good friends and balcony.   

7. West Ocean City 

Practice on Friday delivers a great show, but the schedule is more haphazard.  If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch the Thunderbirds on Friday during their practice flights.  You’ll see all the other performers too – Our favorite places are   the Shrimp Boat , the Harborside or the rooftop deck at Sunset Grille.  You can also go to Hoopers and have a local craft beer by Fin City, much of it  brewed on site.    

8. The Drop Zone

My favorite place to be for OC Air Show weekend! On the beach around 16th Street and 17th Street, jump teams parachute in this area. You can purchase  passes which allow visitors to get a less crowded experience, professional narration and enhanced sound in this area. Also included are portable bathrooms and food vendors. But most importantly, you’re right in the center of the action. To buy tickets, visit the OC Air Show site here.

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