Pensacola Beach Air Show releases full schedule

Special to Gannett/USA TODAY NETWORK

PENSACOLA — The Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA) will once again host the annual Pensacola Beach Air Show, with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels celebrating their 75th anniversary this season and headlining.

The event is July 7-10 at Gulfside Pavilion at Casino Beach, 20 Casino Beach Blvd., Pensacola Beach.

A Super Hornet and Legacy Hornet perform during a 2021 air show.

Transportation

To pursue ways to alleviate traffic congestion onto Pensacola Beach for the air show, the SRIA will be increasing free public transportation hours along the island on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, July 9, the SRIA’s three, free open-air trolleys, operated by ECAT, will begin transporting people at 7 a.m. and will run their regular route until midnight.

Starting Saturday, July 10, at 6 a.m., the SRIA will have 10 buses in addition to the three open-air trolleys running along the island, and will extend their service area to Park East, located a mile east of Portofino Resort.

Buses and trolleys will service Park East to Park West, to transport people to Casino Beach throughout the day Saturday. Additional busing service to Park East ends at 6 p.m. Saturday and the three open-air trolleys will resume normal operations again until midnight.

Passengers who wish to get back to their vehicles as soon as the air show ends need to be on the first fleet of buses leaving Casino Beach post show, or should expect to wait as long as 90 minutes for the trolleys or buses to return due to gridlocked traffic immediately following the air show. 

PLEASE NOTE: Face masks will be required to ride on all public transportation.

The SRIA is requiring the public suspend all flights of unmanned aircraft, or drones, during the air show hours of the Pensacola Beach Air Show week. In addition, glass is always prohibited on the beach, and leashed dogs are only allowed at the two designated dog beaches on either side of the island.

The schedule

Kicking off the air show week is “Breakfast with the Blues,” on Wednesday, July 7, around 7:30 a.m. when the Blue Angels arrive and circle overhead to mark the show’s coordinates and center points along Pensacola Beach. 

At 2 p.m. Thursday, July 8, the Blue Angels will have a full practice show over Pensacola Beach.

The air show dress rehearsal is Friday, July 9, with the aerobatic acts beginning just after 11 a.m. and the Blue Angels overhead at 2 p.m.

The official Pensacola Beach Air Show is Saturday, July 10, and follows exactly Friday’s dress rehearsal schedule.

Performances

The Gulf Coast Magni Gyro team will lead off the civilian acts portion of the air show with a seven-man formation in their colorful, Magni M24 Orion Gyroplanes starting just after 11 a.m.

Next up, Julian MacQueen will take to the sky in his big, flying seaplane, a vintage 1943 Grumman Widgeon at about 11:20 a.m.

Then the Veteran’s Flight team will be over the Gulf at approximately 11:35 a.m. Organized by Pensacola attorney and pilot Roy Kinsey, about a dozen vintage Stearman bi-plane pilots from all over the Southeast will be flying World War II and Korean War veterans over Pensacola Beach on Friday and Saturday as a way to pay tribute to them, and give the tens of thousands of beach spectators a glimpse at aviation history.

At 11:43 a.m., a group of United States Navy T-6 planes and TH-57 helicopters from Training Air Wing Five in Milton will fly by in multi-plane formations.

Starting about 11:50 a.m. pilots Ken Rieder and Adam Baker with Redline Aerobatic Team take to the skies, in their signature red and black stunt planes, to perform death-defying opposing stunts and inverted maneuvers and formations.

Next up, at 12:07 p.m., watch solo pilot Kevin Coleman push the limits of his bright yellow Extra 300 SHP stunt plane, his body and his mind, to create a visual spectacle like no other over Pensacola Beach.

Solo pilot Gary Ward will zip overhead in his green and purple MX2 aircraft, showcasing an aerobatic act packed with breathtaking maneuvers that range from zero-speed hovers to dives in excess of 250 mph, at about 12:25 p.m.

Stunt pilot Skip Stewart will close out the civilian acts with high-skill passes and jaw-dropping maneuvers in his famous red, white and black-checkered bi-plane, Prometheus, at approximately 12:40 p.m.

Following the civilian stunt pilot performances, there will be a 45-minute window for spectators to cool off and take a dip in the Gulf before lifeguards clear the water again in anticipation of the start of the Blue Angels show.

Then, at 2 p.m., look to the Gulf horizon as a famous C-130J aircraft, affectionately known as Fat Albert, followed by six signature blue and gold F-18 Super Hornets, make their way over Pensacola Beach.

For the next 50 minutes, spectators will get a glimpse of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels aeronautic maneuvers like the Diamond Dirty Loop, the Double Farvel, the Vertical Pitch, the Fleur-de-Lis, the Opposing Knife-Edge pass, and the crowd-favorite Sneak Pass. These are just a few of the mind-blowing displays of choreographed precision flying the Navy’s flight demonstration team has perfected over the past 75 years.

Afterward

Following the air show, when it’s time to pack up and leave, the SRIA would like to remind the public: please leave only your footprints behind! 

For the safety and enjoyment of all Pensacola Beach visitors and the preservation of the island’s flora and fauna, please take all that you came with and help keep our beach clean.