Friday, December 12–OC Air Show Books Thunderbirds

OCEAN CITY – The second annual Ocean City Air Show added a nice feather to its cap this week when the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds announced they would be participating in the event in the resort in mid-June.

Last year’s inaugural Ocean City Air Show was deemed a success with thousands of spectators cramming into the downtown area for the event in the middle of the week in June. This year, the event has been moved back a week later to June 13-14 and will be held on a weekend instead of mid-week in order to maximize the exposure for the air show.

Excitement surrounding the event piqued this week when elite air demonstration team, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, confirmed they were coming to the Ocean City Air Show this year. Thunderbird 12 Public Affairs Officer Jason McCree on Wednesday said the fabled air demonstration team had chosen to add the Ocean City Air Show to its roughly 30-date schedule in 2009. The Thunderbirds perform at events all over the country and around the world and McCree said the team was excited to be coming to Ocean City in June.

“We’re absolutely excited and already looking forward to it,” he said this week. “That’s a beautiful part of the country and I don’t know that we’ve ever done an event in that area.

McCree said Ocean City was added to the Thunderbirds calendar this year after a lengthy selection and approval process.

“It’s a long process that begins with our corporate sponsors who work with the air shows and ends with approval from the Department of Defense,” he said. “We get endless offers to appear at shows, and we weigh them all and decide what works best for our schedule. This year, it worked out well for us to come to Ocean City in June.”

While he wouldn’t reveal exactly what visitors and residents in Ocean City could expect from the Thunderbirds in June, McCree did promise they would not be disappointed. The show starts on the ground with a display of the aircraft, then the pilots come out and taxi them into position to start the show. Once the pilots get into their routine over the show venue, they will do roughly 40 breath-taking maneuvers.

“The show will be absolutely amazing,” he said. “If you have the opportunity to see it, it’s something you won’t likely forget for a long time if ever.”

McCree said the Thunderbirds’ entire crew is on hand for most of their shows including the pilots and the vast number of support staff. There are roughly 35 active Air Force members on the team as well as several reserve and guard staff. For the first time this year, the Thunderbirds’ show will include reserve and guard pilots.

The Thunderbirds are just one of the many acts expected to be included in the Ocean City Air Show this year. Event promoter Brian Lilley is expected to make a formal presentation to the Ocean City Mayor and Council on Monday to outline the other headline events. Although it hasn’t been formally confirmed, another military demonstration unit expected to be included this year is the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team.

Other than a few new wrinkles, the 2009 Ocean City Air Show is expected to follow a pattern similar to last year’s event. The show will be held on the beach between 14th and 17th streets again this year with most of the officially sanctioned events as well as the paid admission area and extra events such as exhibitors, vendors and hospitality events held there.

Another new wrinkle expected to be added this year will be a take-off party on the beach on the Friday night before the air show actually begins. Plans for the party include a night parachute team jump and some selected flyovers.