The Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA) will once again host the annual Pensacola Beach Air Show, with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels headlining, on Friday, July 13, and Saturday, July 14. In addition to the Blue Angels, there will be a host of world-class aerobatic and stunt plane performers, as well as interactive exhibits, military recruitment stations and all types of vendors on the ground.
“Every year we look forward to hosting this world-class air show, along the shores of this world-class beach, with our hometown heroes,” said Paolo Ghio, executive director of the SRIA. “It’s a fantastic attraction, for tourists and locals alike, to be able to enjoy every summer.”
To pursue ways to alleviate traffic congestion for the air show, the SRIA will be increasing free public transportation hours along the island on Friday and adding 10 extra buses to the schedule on Saturday. For more trolley information, go to www.visitpensacolabeach.com/trolley-information.
For the safety of all spectators and air show participants, the SRIA is requiring the public suspend all flights of unmanned aircraft, or drones, during the air show hours of the Pensacola Beach Air Show week. In addition, glass is always prohibited on the beach, and leashed dogs are only allowed at the two designated dog beaches on either side of the island.
Kicking off the air show week is “Breakfast with the Blues,” on Wednesday, July 11, around 8 a.m. when the Blue Angels arrive and circle overhead to mark the show’s coordinates and center points along Pensacola Beach.
On Thursday, July 12, at 2 p.m., the Blue Angels hold a full practice show over Pensacola Beach.
Friday, July 13, is the Pensacola Beach Air Show dress rehearsal, with the civilian acts beginning just before noon and the Blue Angels overhead at 2 p.m., weather depending.
Saturday, July 14, marks the official Pensacola Beach Air Show, and follows exactly Friday’s dress rehearsal schedule:
At 11:30 a.m., the Veteran’s Flight leads off the civilian acts portion of the air show. Organized by Pensacola attorney and pilot Roy Kinsey, about a dozen vintage Stearman bi-plane pilots from all over the Southeast will be flying World War II veterans over Pensacola Beach on Friday and Saturday as a way to pay tribute to them, and give the tens of thousands of beach spectators a glimpse at aviation history.
At 11:45 a.m., the U.S. Coast Guard will enact a SAR helo demo, which involves an out-the-door, search and rescue demonstration of a person in distress from a helicopter hovering overhead.
At noon, pilots Ken Rieder and Jon Thocker with Redline Aerobatic Team take to the skies, in their signature red and black stunt planes, to perform death-defying opposing stunts and inverted maneuvers and formations.
Next up, at 12:15 p.m., watch solo pilot Kevin Coleman push the limits of his bright yellow Extra 300 SHP stunt plane, his body and his mind, to create a visual spectacle like no other over Pensacola Beach.
About 12:35 p.m., solo pilot Gary Ward will zip overhead in his green and purple MX2 aircraft, showcasing an aerobatic act packed with breathtaking maneuvers that range from zero-speed hovers to dives in excess of 250 mph.
At 12:50 p.m., closing out the civilian acts with high-skill passes and jaw-dropping maneuvers, is stunt pilot Skip Stewart in his famous red, white and black-checkered bi-plane, Prometheus.
Following the civilian acts will be a short 30-minute window for spectators to cool off and take a dip in the Gulf before lifeguards clear the waters again in anticipation of the start of the Blue Angels show.
Then, at 2 p.m., look to the Gulf horizon as six signature blue and gold F-18 Super Hornets make their way over Pensacola Beach. For the next 45 minutes, spectators will get a glimpse of aeronautic maneuvers like the Diamond Dirty Loop, the Double Farvel, the Vertical Pitch, the Fleur-de-Lis, the Opposing Knife-Edge pass, and the crowd-favorite Sneak Pass. These are just a few of the mind-blowing displays of choreographed precision flying the Navy’s flight demonstration team has perfected over the past 70 years.
Following the show, when it’s time to pack up and leave, the SRIA would like to remind the public: Please Leave Only Your Footprints Behind! For the safety and enjoyment of all Pensacola Beach visitors and the preservation of the island’s flora and fauna, please take all that you came with and help keep our beach clean.