Ocean City Air Show flies high this weekend

OCEAN CITY, Md. — The 13th annual Ocean City Air Show looked like it was going to be yet another casualty of the summer entertainment season as the COVID-19 pandemic grounded the high-flying aerial acrobatics back on June 13-14.

The GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team, a vintage air show performance squadron, will perform at the Ocean City Air Show in Ocean City, Maryland Saturday and Sunday. The show will be livestreamed at OCAirshow.com.

However, the event was resurrected after many long discussions and it was rescheduled to take place this Saturday and Sunday, high above the sand and waves of Ocean City’s beach.

The OC Air Show will be highlighted by the first air show appearance of the 2020 season by the legendary U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Air show officials also announced in July that they had scheduled the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, and A-10 Thunderbolt II demonstration teams to perform over Ocean City.

The GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team, a vintage air show performance squadron, will also be performing at this weekend’s show. The six World Ware II-era aircraft will perform an 18-minute, low-level precision-flying demonstration in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War II. V-J Day (Victory Over Japan) is Saturday, the opening day of the air show.

“This weekend we’re dedicating our performance to those who served in WWII,” said Larry Arken, squadron commander and team flight lead. “Air show spectators and aviation enthusiasts will witness our ‘warbirds’ perform a dynamic demonstration designed by team members who served in the U.S. military.”

In addition to their air show performances, the Skytypers team “skytypes” giant messages in the sky. Five aircraft fly in a line-abreast formation to produce 1,000-foot tall messages that can be seen for 15 miles in any direction.

Bryan Lilley, chairman of the OC Air Show, said it was important for Ocean City to be able to put the spotlight back on itself as a tourist-friendly beach and attraction, with the aerial event coming one week after the prestigious White Marlin Open fishing tournament.

“The OC Air Show is one of the top annual economic impact generating events in Ocean City,” Mr. Lilley said. “With the distress that COVID-19 is causing to the local economy we (made) a tremendous effort to reschedule the event and do our part to help all the local businesses that prosper every year on air show weekend.”

The USAF Thunderbirds made several flights over numerous major U.S. cities back in the spring in tandem with the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, displaying support of the frontline workers against COVID-19, but this weekend will be the precision flight group’s first air show performance of the season.

A typical season for the Thunderbirds has them performing no more than 70 air demonstrations in 35 cities throughout the nation. More than 280 million people in all 50 states and 57 countries have seen the traditional red, white and blue Thunderbirds jets.

The Thunderbirds squadron is composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and more than 100 enlisted personnel.

The Thunderbirds air demonstration is a mix of formation flying and solo routines. The four-jet diamond formation demonstrates the training and precision of Air Force pilots, while the two solo aircraft highlight some of the extreme capabilities of the F-16.

In all, the pilots perform about 40 maneuvers in a single demonstration. An aerial demonstration lasts around an hour.

The stage for the OC Air Show is 10 miles wide and 1,000 feet high, so spectators can watch from their backyard, balcony, boat or the beach, which officials said makes it an ideal event in the era of social distancing.

Air show officials said they have been working closely with the town of Ocean City to implement a series of “Stay Safe and Separate” initiatives to take advantage of the wide-open spaces over the beach and boardwalk to ensure physical distancing and other public safety measures for spectators.

Organizers are also planning a livestream of the event at OCAirshow.com, which will include several cameras and locations, interviews with pilots and unique angles of the event.

The OC Air Show flight performances will begin at noon on Saturday. The sequence of flight performances will be: L-39 Cold War Era Jet Demo; GEICO Skytypers; USCG Search and Rescue Demo; Panchito B-25 Bomber Flight; Scott Francis; C-17 Globemaster III Flyover; A-10 Warthog; F-22 Raptor Demo; Air Force Heritage Flight; F-35 Lightning II Demo Team; Mike Wiskus in the Lucas Oil Pitts; U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.