Thunderbirds Booked For OC Air Show

OCEAN CITY — Buoyed by the announcement the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds were returning this year, resort officials this week approved date-holds for the OC Air Show for 2022 and 2023.

It was never in question if the OC Air Show would return to the resort this summer after last year’s show was moved to August because of COVID restrictions. What was in question, however, was who would be the headline act in 2021. As of a month or so ago, neither the U.S. Navy Blue Angels or the USAF Thunderbirds had Ocean City on their schedules.

In addition, neither of the popular jet demonstration teams appeared to have gaps in their 2021 show schedules that coincided with Ocean City’s event slated for June. In recent years, the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds had typically alternated each year as the headliner for the OC Air Show.

The picture became clear last week when OC Air Show officials announced the Thunderbirds will headline a lineup that also includes the F-22 Raptor demonstration team along with numerous other military and civilian demonstration teams.

Last year, a modified OC Air Show was moved from its planned dates in June to mid-August because of COVID concerns. The event is expected to return this year June 19-20.

With little debate this week, the council unanimously approved the requested dates in 2022 and 2023 with an agreement to update the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the show producers and the town. Last year, the town had supplied $35,000 in funding for the air show along with other in-kind services for the event. However, when the event was postponed and rescheduled, the air show producers asked for and received an additional $100,000 from the town to offset revenue losses and recoup expenses from modifying the pandemic-friendly event. This year, the town is going back to the original financial commitment to the air show with $35,000 in funding.

There was one other issue to resolve on Tuesday. Last year, the town suspended the express bus service from the convention center and the Park-and-Ride in West Ocean City to the event’s show center at 16th Street because of COVID restrictions. This year, the promoter has asked for the express service for performers, staff and VIP ticket holders. It was determined on Tuesday the bus service could be restored, but it had to be available to the public or else it would be considered a charter.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

Alternative Text

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.