OCEAN CITY — Adding yet another exciting element to an already stacked line-up for 2015, Ocean City Air Show officials this week announced the resort’s 2016 event will be one of the first civilian air shows in history to feature the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
Air Show officials announced this month the F-35 will fly together with the P-51 Mustang in Ocean City in June in a Heritage Flight showcasing the past and future of U.S. Air Force technology. The F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, is a single-seat, single-engine stealth fighter undergoing final development and testing by the Department of Defense.
The fifth generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground attack, aerial intelligence and air defense missions. The F-35 will fly in this year’s Heritage Flight during the Ocean City Air Show with the historic P-51 Mustang. Last year, the vintage World War II era P-51 Mustang flew in the Heritage Flight with the F-22 Raptor, also illustrating Air Force’s rich tradition and bright future.
This year, the Heritage Flight will begin with a pass-in-review coming from behind the Ocean City Air Show’s main viewing area at 16th Street. The F-35 Lightning II and the P-51 Mustang will then set up for second pass, flying down the coastline from the left. The third and final pass will come from behind the crowd with the F-35 and P-51 performing a separation maneuver to create separation before a single simultaneous roll by both aircraft.
During the flyovers, a musical accompaniment will be played through the air show’s public address system featuring “We Remember” by Dwayne O’Brien. After the roll maneuver, each of the aircraft will then enter the airfield traffic pattern and perform one more individual pass in front of the crowd before “pitching out” into an approach pattern and landing.
The U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight program presents the evolution of USAF air power by flying modern state-of-the-art fighter aircraft in close formation with vintage fighter aircraft and Ocean City’s air show set for June 18-19 will be one of only a handful to feature the F-35 Lightning II. There will be only 10 air shows in the nation in 2016 to feature an F-35 flying in a Heritage Flight.
The Heritage Flight program was created in 1997 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. The program incorporates fighters from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and other conflicts in which the USAF has been involved.
Meanwhile, the USAF Thunderbirds will headline the 9th Annual Ocean City Air Show in June, which will mark the Air Force’s signature demonstration team’s last appearance in Ocean City until at least 2018. However, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels have already committed to the 2017 Ocean City Air Show.