The U.S. Navy Blue Angels – will scream and thunder and barrel-roll over Fort Lauderdale beach as headliners of the 2021 Fort Lauderdale Air Show May 8-9.
If this elite sextet of fighter jets kicks up more velocity, sonic booms and smoke trails than last time, it’s not just your imagination. Since the Blue Angels’ last Fort Lauderdale visit in 2019, the Navy’s legacy Hornets, flown in air shows since 1986, have been replaced by faster, sleeker twin-engine F/A-18 Super Hornets that pack 40 percent more power under the hood, Air Show president Bryan Lilley says.
There will be 12 performances, but keep an eye out for these mavericks of the skies.
U.S. Navy Blue Angels: Grounded in Pensacola during the off-season, the Blue Angels are known for precision flying their F/A-18 Super Hornets, landing atop each other, executing dynamic loops and flying in the six-jet Delta formation.
F-16 Viper Demo Team: This second-billed fighter-jet team, one of four military squadrons that headlined last November’s pandemic-delayed Air Show, will pull off a three-mile inverted climb among its stunts.
Red Bull Helicopter: Stuntman Aaron Fitzgerald pilots this modified BO-105C twin-engine helicopter that can execute barrel rolls, vertical climbs, nose dives, full loops and – perhaps most dangerous of all – upside-down flying.
Coast Guard SAR Demo: Returning from their 2019 appearance, this Coast Guard search-and-rescue crew will simulate a water rescue demonstration 300 feet offshore. Rescue swimmers will dive from a helicopter hovering over a person in distress, then hoist the rescued swimmer into the helicopter.
Ms. Geico vs. the Skytyper: Which is faster, a World War II-era SNJ-2 vintage aircraft or a speedboat? Answer: It depends on the surf and wind speed. The Geico Skytypers, always an Air Show crowd-pleaser for their white-smoke skywriting and aerobatic loops, will send one of their WWII aircrafts to face off against Miss Geico, a 47-foot catamaran.
C-17 Globemaster III Demo: At 174 feet long and with a wingspan of 170 feet, this cargo aircraft hogs plenty of airspace, but it’s capable of air-dropping 102 paratroopers and their equipment.
The Price for Flight
In-person admission is free for spectators along Fort Lauderdale beach north of Sunrise Boulevard. But if you’re angling for better seats, be prepared to splurge online, as no tickets will be sold in person this year. Drop Zone Beach passes, a prime viewing area on the shore between Sunrise and Northeast 14th Court – will cost $35-$39 online and includes access to portable restrooms and early 9 a.m. admission. Flight Line Club VIP ($179-$199) includes a personal beach tent, food and a drink, and a golf-cart valet.
Also introduced last November, the Sand Boxes ($259 for Sunday, Saturday sold out) are private areas in designated boxes on the beach sand where families can sit socially distanced.
If VIP sounds steep, consider this alternative: Watch the Air Show from the patio for free at McSorley’s Beach Pub (837 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd.), or pay $40 for rooftop access (children 15 and under are free). Purchase tickets at: fortlauderdaleairshow.com
Parking, Transportation and Road Closures
State Road A1A will be closed between Sunrise Boulevard and Northeast 19th Court from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 8-9, so find alternate routes if commuting. The Sunrise Boulevard Bridge will stay lowered for boat traffic 3-4:30 p.m. as spectators exit the beach each day.
Options for paring include Galleria Mall on Sunrise Boulevard, which is free, and crossing the Intracoastal to the beach.
Alternately, the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi is offering a discounted rate of $19 all weekend long, for those simply wanting to enjoy Water Taxi Hop On Hop Off service, or catch the show from the water. Tickets may be purchased at watertaxi.com/air-show/
More to See
For those that don't mind the walk, the Las Olas Beach Garage offers a flat all day rate of $25 and is close to the Air Shows Expanded Site, where military displays from the Navy, Air Force, Red Bull and a Top Gun experience will take over the Las Olas Festival Street. The weekly Farmers Market at Las Olas Oceanside Park will also perform double duty with a Sunday market as well to service hungry beachgoers and those who wish to shop.
Food and drink concessionaires will return, and will accept both cash and credit. Bring essentials such as masks and sanitizer, backpacks (there’s a security inspection upon entry), coolers (also checked), beach chairs, umbrellas and sunscreen. Cameras are also allowed. Don’t bring personal tents or awnings, barbecue grills or outside alcohol.
Covid Safety Guidelines
As with the 2020 bash, the Air Show’s many COVID-19 upgrades will stick around, for now. Of the many COVID-19 upgrades in place, the highlights include contactless ticket scanning, portable hand sanitizers and hand-washing stations. No tickets will be sold at the gate. And wearing a mask is recommended – but not exactly enforced – for spectators standing within six feet of others, and optional when separated at least six feet.
Admission is free. For more information, go to Air.Show.