Pensacola’s hometown heroes will be front and center at the 2023 Pensacola Beach Air Show
, hosted by the Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA), July 5-8, 2023. The elite U.S. Navy Blue Angels will headline all events which culminate on Saturday, July 8, with the official Air Show.
In addition to the Blue Angels, there will be a host of world-class aerobatic performers, as well as interactive exhibits, military recruitment stations and all types of vendors on the ground.
“Every year we look forward to hosting this world-class air show along our world-class beach to really showcase our hometown heroes, the Blue Angels,” said Leigh Davis, Executive Director of the SRIA. “It’s an awe-inspiring tradition that tens of thousands of locals and tourists alike gather to enjoy the spectacle every summer.”The SRIA is requiring the public suspend all flights of unmanned aircraft, or drones, during the air waiver hours of the Pensacola Beach Air Show. 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.
Kicking off the air show week is “Breakfast with the Blues,” on Wednesday, July 5, 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.
On Thursday, July 6, at 2 p.m., the Blue Angels hold a practice show over Pensacola Beach.
Friday, July 7, is the Pensacola Beach Air Show dress rehearsal where flight demonstrations and civilian aerobatic performances begin at approximately noon, with the Blue Angels overhead at 2 p.m.
Saturday, July 8, marks the official Pensacola Beach Air Show, and follows exactly Friday’s dress rehearsal schedule.
Starting about 11 a.m., prior to the official waivered air space closure signaling the start of the show on Friday and Saturday, expect to see:
- Pilot Julian MacQueen flying his vintage 1943 Grumman Widgeon seaplane overhead.
- Pilot Gene Valentino flying his ICON A5 Amphibious light sport plane.
- S. Coast Guard pilot Lt. Cmdr. Mark Currier, from the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, flying his HC-144 Ocean Sentry large turbopop aircraft.
- Training Squadron Ten (VT-10) from NAS Pensacola in a formation fly-by in their T-6 Texans aircraft.
- VeriJet, a private airline, will fly by in a three-ship formation of Cirrus SF-50 Vision Jets.
- Navy pilot Tanner Matheny will be flying over in his 1946 North American Navion airplane named Olivia.
- U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue (SAR) demonstration from the back of a HH-60J Blackhawk helicopter piloted by Lt. Travis Rhea.
Then, at approximately noon Saturday only, event-goers will be asked to stand as actor and singer Kara Kimmer performs acapella The National Anthem to mark the official start of the Pensacola Beach Air Show.
Next up, look high in the sky as the Red Bull Air Force team will kick things off with a synchronized flag-carrying skydiving formation, landing at show center next to the Pensacola Beach Pier. New to the air show this year, the Red Bull Air Force team is assembled from the most accomplished aviation experts on the planet who continually push the limits of human flight.
Following that, the Veteran’s Flight team in their bright yellow, vintage World War II-era biplanes, will be making several passes over Casino Beach. Organized by Pensacola attorney and pilot Roy Kinsey, about a dozen Stearman pilots from all over the Southeast are flying in the show to pay tribute to all WWII and Korean War vets.
Next in line, another new addition to this year’s air show is MiG-17F pilot Bill Culberson with Fighterjets Inc. Born the son of an Air Force fighter jet pilot who also joined the Air Force, Culberson has been in love with military aviation as long as he can remember. His classic 1950s-era MiG-17F can maintain 8g turns with a max speed of 715 mph.
Following that, pilots Ken Rieder and Adam Baker with Redline Aerobatic Team take to the skies at approximately 12:45 p.m. in their signature red and black planes to perform opposing stunts, inverted maneuvers and fun formations directly overhead.
Hang onto your hat as pilot Skip Stewart wows the crowds next with his high-skill passes and jaw-dropping maneuvers from his famous red, white and black-checkered bi-plane, Prometheus. Don’t miss his signature inverted ribbon-cutting pass over the Pensacola Beach Pier.
Following Skip Stewart, at approximately 1:05 p.m., there will be a brief 15-minute window for spectators to cool off and take a dip in the Gulf before lifeguards clear the water again.
Then, at approximately 1:30 p.m., the Red Bull Air Force team is back again, creating a visual spectacle like no other. Consisting of helicopter pilot Aaron Fitzgerald, aerobatic pilot Kevin Coleman in his Extra 300 SHP plane, and the Red Bull Air Force jump team – the trio will perform a joint aerial demonstration that will last approximately 25 minutes.
Look to the Gulf horizon at approximately 2 p.m. as the 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 45 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, and our hometown heroes, has perfected over the past 77 years.
The Pensacola Beach Air Show will be announced by Rob Williams. The 2023 Pensacola Air Show marks the 30th anniversary of Paul Entrekin, a retired Marine Corps Aviator and former full-time air show pilot performer, as the Air Boss over the show. The SRIA would like to thank him for his dedicated service.
After the conclusion of 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.