OCEAN CITY – While the OC Air Show will take place in August next year, officials say they plan to return the annual event to its traditional mid-June date in 2025, with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels as the headline act.
In a break from tradition, next year’s OC Air Show will move from its customary mid-June weekend to Aug. 24-25, 2024, according to the Air Dot Show Tour, which produces the annual aviation event in Ocean City.
While the lineup has yet to be announced, it appears the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels will not make an appearance, as schedules for both demonstration teams list them performing in other cities. According to the OC Air Show website, next year’s event will feature the Italian Air Force Frecce Tricolori team.
“The Air Show in Ocean City has become a staple event in our summer season,” said Tom Perlozzo, Ocean City’s director of tourism and business development. “We understand that our residents and visitors are accustomed to enjoying the event in June, but due to challenges out of our control, the event will take place in August 2024. Though a break in tradition, we think the Italian Air Force Frecce Tricolori, which will fly in honor of the NATO 75th Anniversary, will bring the same great crowds to Ocean City as in years past.”
He continued, “We do know our promoter is working hard to announce additional acts as well. We are confident that the Air Show will be equally enjoyed in August as in previous years, and we are very excited to welcome the Blue Angels on the traditional June weekend in 2025.”
When reached for comment Tuesday, City Manager Terry McGean said town worked closely with Air Dot Show Tour CEO Bryan Lilley to bring the air show to Ocean City. He noted, however, that the promoter faced several challenges in securing major U.S. military jet teams for the 2024 event.
“This year, we were informed of various challenges he faced with the event’s timing regarding jet team availability, both the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds were fully booked for the entire 2024 season,” McGean said. “After internal discussions with Mr. Lilley, the Mayor and City Council agreed to work with him to host the 2024 event in late August in order to have an opportunity to host the Italian Air Force Frecce Tricolori in honor of the NATO 75th Anniversary. Our residents and visitors have come to enjoy the wonderful display the Air Show brings, and we believe the Air Show will still be a tremendous success this year, as it has been in years past.”
In 2022, the Ocean City Council voted to approve a terms sheet with the OC Air Show promoter that outlined the town’s desires to have no less than one major military jet team – the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the Canadian Air Force Snowbirds, or two or more U.S. military single ship jet demonstrations – headline the annual event. The modified terms sheet allowed the town to move forward with negotiations on a formal three-year contract, a departure from the year-to-year memorandum of understanding it had with the promoter.
While next year’s air show will host the Italian Air Force Frecce Tricolori in August, McGean reported the town plans to return the event to its traditional mid-June date in 2025, with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels as the headline act.
In the meantime, Perlozzo said his department is looking to add events to the 2024 summer calendar, including in June, when the air show was originally scheduled to return.
Officials add that there are no plans to move any other events in the 2024 calendar, including Jeep Fest, which is slated to return to Ocean City Aug. 22-25, 2024. In an interview Tuesday, Jeep Fest promoter Brad Hoffman said he would work with the town to hold his event alongside the air show.
“I think more is better in this case,” he said. “I think we can both enjoy the crossover and promote both events …,” he said. “Jeeps and jets, it’s a great idea. Together, we can co-exist.”
The Air Dot Show Tour will visit six travel destinations in 2024, with each event featuring aircraft demonstrations from various military branches and civilian aviators.
Marking their return to the U.S. for the first time since 1992, the Frecce Tricolori will showcase their skills at two destinations: New York, commemorating the 500th anniversary of Giovanni da Verrazzano’s landing in 1524, and Ocean City, in honor of the 75th anniversary of NATO.
Officially known as the 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico, Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale, Frecce Tricolori, was established in 1961 and operates the Aermacchi MB-339-A/PAN, a two-seat fighter-trainer aircraft. With 10 aircraft, including nine in close formation and a soloist, they boast the title of the world’s largest acrobatic patrol.
“Air Dot Show Tour events appeal to a diverse audience far beyond just aviation enthusiasts, encompassing destination travelers, families, thrill seekers, and people of all ages,” Lilley said. “Our events are a groundbreaking fusion of outdoor festival vibes and a high-flying aviation spectacular, offering a revolutionary blend of a center stage production with the exhilarating performances of an air show.”