Popular military and civilian aircraft including the Blue Angels and GEICO Skytypers are scheduled to highlight the returning Beaufort Air Show this weekend near the Atlantic coastline of South Carolina.
A rare flight demonstration by the new Air Force F-35B Lighting II advanced aircraft will pierce the afternoon skies on Saturday and Sunday at the Marine Corps Air Station. The Skytypers six World War II-era SNJ-2 aircraft, and the Navy and Marines Blue Angels are a few of the aviation highlights over Beaufort.
"The air show is our opportunity to say 'thank-you' to the low country and to the surrounding community for their unwavering support for over 70 years," MCAS Beaufort Commander Col. Peter D. Buck stated during an outdoors gathering on Thursday. "This is our opportunity to open our gates to welcome in the public and say 'thank-you', and also share with the public about our evolving mission here in defense of our nation."
Beaufort is home to a group of F-35's and their pilots. The air station also hosts a group of fighter pilots in training to learn how to pilot the new aircraft with both classroom, simulators and flight time. The F-35 and F-16 Viper jet aircraft will rocket across the airfield on each air show date.
Meanwhile, the Blue Angels all-Marine crewed C-130T Hercules, affectionately known as Fat Albert, will demonstrate the design capabilities of the crowd-favorite aircraft. Bert's 12-minute flight will lead off the Blue's six F/A-18C Hornets half-hour performance near the close of the air show.
The Blue Angels pilots and maintenance crews touched down on Thursday morning as a fully loaded Bert and the six Hornets arrived and quickly went to work to prepare for the weekend. The Blues later performed over the local community with a lunchtime flight display.
"This air show is one of the best air shows in the entire nation," MCAS Beaufort spokesperson Cpl. Sarah Cherry said on Thursday. "Not only do we have the Blue Angels, local artist Candice Glover who won American Idol will be on hand. We also will have a rare flight demonstration by an F-35."
Candice Glover will lead off the opening ceremonies at 11:15 a.m., on Saturday and Sunday, as the American Idol season 12 winner rings in a stirring version of the National Anthem. Glover is a native of nearby St. Helena, and due to release her new album this year.
Civilian aerobatic performers include Rob Holland, Mike Goulian and three-time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion Patty Wagstaff. Their dazzling performances as they put their aircraft in unheard of maneuvers have sparked a growing interest in aviation in young adults.
Col. Buck and his staff expect over 100 thousand visitors over the weekend. "The air shows have been very successful here in Beaufort over the years," he added. "This one is proving to be our largest here at the air station. I expect it to be very successful and we're excited about that."
General admission free to the public on both Saturday and Sunday. Gates open into the air show at 9:00 a.m. with free parking available on a first come, first serve basis.
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