Melbourne air show includes Thunderbirds, jump team


MELBOURNE, Fla. – Organizers of the Melbourne Air & Space Show say they hope to transform the event into an aviation exposition, expanding the show from its beginnings as traditional air show focusing on aircraft performances, Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports.

Highlights of the performer lineup for this year's show were announced Monday. In addition to the previously announced U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the Oct. 4-5 air show will include such acts as the U.S. Army Silver Wings parachute jump team, as well as aerobatic demonstrations from Greg Connell, Gary Ward and Kent Pietsch, who lands his airplane on top of a moving motor home during his act. Other performances will feature the F-4U Corsair Demo, the L-39 Jet Demo, the Super Decathlon and The Wild Waco.

The show moves to Melbourne International Airport this year, with Northrop Grumman Corp. as its main sponsor. The show last year was held in the beachside area of Melbourne, and for the previous four years was in Cocoa Beach.

Brian Lilley, chairman of the National Air, Sea & Space Foundation, the organizer of the show, said he expects more than 100,000 people will watch at least part of the two-day show. Some will buy tickets to watch inside the airport and have the best views. Others will opt to watch for free from outside the airport property, within a 5-mile radius of the airport where the performances can be viewed.

Lilley said he expects the show to have a $7 million economic impact on the local economy, tied to spending by the participants and spectators while they are in the area.

Lilley said having a show at the airport has its advantages, when compared with a beachside show.

He said the "enhanced, up-close experience" includes hosting a wider variety of performers, having aircraft on display on the ground, and giving spectators views of the aircraft when they taxi, take off and land.

With the concentration of aviation companies operating at the airport, Lilley said, "some day, we may have a mini-Paris Air Show here."

The show, which begins at noon both days, will feature four hours of military and civilian performances. Gates open at 9 a.m. each day. Additional performers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Lilley said Melbourne International Airport is "one of the more ideal airports for an air show," partly because it has relatively few commercial flights. Lilley said there are only two commercial flights each day scheduled to take off in the midst of the air show performances, and air show performer schedule will be adjusted so as not to interfere with the commercial flights.

Contact Berman at 321-242-3649 or dberman@floridatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ByDaveBerman


General admission: Tickets are $10 per day (for children ages 6-12) and $15 per day (for those age 13 and up) if purchased in advance. The cost per ticket increases by $5 if purchased at the gate. Parking is $10 per vehicle.

VIP tickets: For those seeking a VIP experience, tickets are on sale for the Flight Line VIP Clubhouse, which offers private seating on the flight line, reserved parking, lunch, beverages, event program and private restroom access. From now through Sept. 1, Flight Line VIP Clubhouse tickets can be purchased online for $119. After Sept. 1, tickets will be $129 (Sept. 2-Oct. 3) and $150 on the day of the event.

More details online: To purchase advance tickets to the show, and for the latest on performer schedules, display exhibits and schedules, and to sign up as a volunteer, go to www.airandspaceshow.com The air show's Facebook page is www.facebook.com/airandspaceshow