U.S. Navy Blue Angels will soar through Southwest Florida skies March 24 – 25 when the 2012 Florida International Air Showreturns for the 32nd year at the Punta Gorda Airport. The six-pilot squadron will close out each day of the air show with their precision formations and high-speed maneuvers in F/A-18 Hornet jets at speeds up to 700 mph.
Jet Teams and Aerobatic Performers
“In the 24 years that I’ve been here with the Florida International Air Show, this air show make up is by far the largest show schedule that I have ever got into,” said Bob Hall, air boss for FIAS, during last Friday’s press conference in Punta Gorda.
Flying begins each day at 10 a.m. running through 4 p.m. Opening ceremonies will begin around 11 a.m. In addition to the Blue Angels, air show attendees will be dazzled with aerobatics by two other air show teams. The Black Diamond Jet Team, formerly called the Heavy Metal Jet Team, is a seven-jet civilian team with two Mig-17s and five L-39s. With 12 experimental kitplanes, Team RV is the world’s largest air show team.
Pilot Matt Younkin, known for his graceful aerobatic precision, will fly in a Twin Beech 18 and Gary Ward will perform maneuvers in a MX2. The Grumman F8F Bearcat, a single-engine naval fighter of the 1940s, will also make an appearance. On the ground see the Wicked Willy Jet Funny Car and its GE J-85, a small single-shaft turbojet engine, commonly used on F-5 and T-3 fighters.
Displays and Historic Aircraft
When eyes are not turned to the sky, visitors can get up close with a variety of aircraft including a WWII B-29 FIFI which is a heavy bomber and only one of its kind in the world still flying. The world’s last flying SB2C Helldiver, a rare WWII Dive Bomber made for the U.S. Navy, will also be on display.
The WC-130 Hercules Hurricane Hunter, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, Berlin Airlift Museum, American Flight Museum will also be on exhibit as well as other aircraft, military branches, government agencies and non-profit organizations.
Planning a Visit to the Florida International Air Show
Previous air show visitors will notice a change. All events will take place at the north side of the Punta Gorda Airport rather than the south side. Primary parking is located on Airport Road across from the Charlotte County Jail and a shuttle system with buses, golf carts and trams will transport visitors to the air show. A parking fee of $5 per vehicle will be collected by Punta Gorda Kiwanis.
Directional signs will guide air show visitors to parking areas. When traveling from the south on I-75 to the Florida International Air Show (from Fort Myers), use Exit 161 (Jones Loop Road) then follow Piper Road toward the Punta Gorda Airport. Traveling from the North (from Sarasota or Tampa), use exit 164 (Duncan Road/U.S. 17) then follow Golf Course Boulevard toward the airport. When visiting from Punta Gorda, use Airport Road.
Event officials recommend bringing ear protection for young children. Sunscreen and chairs are highly recommended for everyone.
Buy Your Tickets Online and Save!
Florida International Air Show admission is $25 for adults and $5 for children 12 years and younger. Adults can save $5 off admission when purchased online by March 23, 2012. Upgraded seating and other options are also available. Visit www.floridaairshow.com for additional information. The Punta Gorda Airport is located at 28000 Airport Road in Punta Gorda.