OCEAN CITY – The U.S Air Force Thunderbirds team released its 2012 show schedule on Wednesday, revealing it will be heading to Ocean City for this summer’s OC Air Show, scheduled for June 9-10, 2012.
Ocean City Air Show LLC President Bryan Lilley will be coming before the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday to announce the Thunderbirds will return for the OC Air Show’s fifth anniversary event.
Lilley said discussion with the Thunderbirds on their return to Ocean City started back in early summer, but Lilley said he had little trouble having them agree to come to town.
“The team likes Ocean City a lot so that helps,” he said yesterday. “They have had a good experience here with our large crowds and our recruiting opportunity and that kind of stuff is high on their radar screen. We take really good care of them too so that doesn’t hurt.”
The U.S Air Force Thunderbirds are considered to be one of the two top U.S.-based acts for air shows, with the U.S Navy Blue Angels being the other.
“They bring in a lot of stability and they present a lot of draw so it adds a lot to the show,” Lilley said.
The 2012 edition will be the third year the Thunderbirds have headlined the OC Air Show. They were previously here in 2009 and 2010.
Last summer the Thunderbirds did not perform, but the 2011 OC Air Show had over 75 percent of new acts and was headlined by the F-18 Super Hornet and the AV-8B Harrier jet demo teams.
Despite the change in the lineup, the event had a record breaking attendance this past summer, equaling the events most successful year in 2009. Demoflush, an estimate of visitors in Ocean City, reflected 260,000 people in town that weekend.
“Last year was our year of extreme flight,” Lilley said. “We were able to come up with something that was attendance wise on par with what they [Thunderbirds] do with that unique mix of performers.”
Lilley is optimistic to have the Thunderbirds return to Ocean City in years to come.
“I think our show will be a regular stop on their schedule,” he said.