Thunderbirds Commit To Next Month’s OC Air Show

Thunderbirds Commit To Next Month’s OC Air Show
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team is pictured over Ocean City in 2014. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY — The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will join an already-loaded lineup during the rescheduled O.C. Air Show in mid-August, event officials announced this week.

Last week, O.C. Air Show officials announced the event originally scheduled for June 13-14 but postponed because of the ongoing COVID-19 situation had been rescheduled for August 15-16. Last week, air show officials announced the U.S. Air Force had scheduled the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, and A-10 Thunderbolt II demonstration teams to perform at the OC Air Show in August, which would be an impressive show in and of itself.

Left uncertain, however, was if the USAF Thunderbirds demonstration team would still highlight the event. The Thunderbirds were originally scheduled for the air show in June, but much has changed since and it was uncertain if the jet demonstration team could work Ocean City into its schedule.

That question was answered on Wednesday when O.C. Air Show officials announced the Thunderbirds were indeed coming to Ocean City to headline what should be a memorable show in August. The new air show dates announced on Thursday come one week after the annual White Marlin Open, giving Ocean City a significant one-two punch in August at a time when the resort is still pull out of what has been a decidedly different summer.

Air show officials are working closely with the town of Ocean City to implement a series of “Stay Safe and Separate” initiatives to take advantage of the wide-open spaces over the beach and Boardwalk to ensure physical distancing and other public safety measures for spectators.

Already, the OC Air Show has plans in place to ensure the safety of guests and spectators, particularly at the designated venues such as the Drop Zone Beach, the Flight Line Club, the VIP Skybox and the VIP Penthouse, for example. Those venues will be increased in size and a reduced number of tickets will be available at each venue to ensure guests can stay separated from other groups.

Tickets must be purchased on line or via phone and will not be sold on-site at the event. Air show officials also plan to mitigate lines at the venue entrances with additional entry points and by allowing early entry. There will also be provisions for six feet of separation between groups waiting to check in and contactless ticket scanning will be available along with individually-packaged wristbands guests can put on themselves.

In addition, there will be frequent sanitization of all surfaces and restrooms and hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations will be prevalent throughout the venues. New this year will be other premium viewing areas called the “Sand Boxes,” designed primarily for those at risk, the elderly and families with small children to enjoy the event in their own personal areas of the beach.

The public address sound for the air show normally available in the immediate area around the Show Center will be much more limited and only audible in the premium viewing areas to encourage spectators to spread out across the entire beach where the air show can be viewed. Instead, a text feed version of the narration will be made available via the event’s Twitter page.

In addition, new mobile device technology will be deployed to enhance spectators’ ability to enjoy the show anywhere within a 10-mile radius of where the jets are performing, allowing spectators to virtually enjoy the show. Officials are encouraging spectators and guests to continue to adhere to the state directives in place including wearing masks while entering the various venues or going to the concessions or restrooms.

Wearing a mask will be optional while sitting and watching the show while separated from others. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available for purchase at the event merchandize stands around the venues.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.