Thousands of people flocked to Pensacola Beach on Friday for the dress rehearsal show ahead of Saturday’s official performance.
Tents were pitched and people were having fun in the sun as early as 5:30 a.m. Friday morning.
With the Friday show over, the team can now focus on the official show. Here’s everything you need to know:
Information about the super hornet
Friday show:Pensacola Beach Air Show 2022 Has Huge Buzz Thanks to ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Movie Elevator
Schedule of shows on the beach:Blue Angels Pensacola Beach Show 2022 schedule announced
Training schedule:Blue Angels 2022 training schedule revealed
In 2021, the Blue Angels launched their new Super Hornets jets. The new fleet of 11 jets replaced the US Navy’s F/A-18 A/B/C/D Legacy Hornets, which had spent 34 years with the Blue Angels.
Super Hornets are a more powerful jet, especially at lower altitudes. The new jets are also 25% larger than the previous Hornet, have greater fuel capacity, can fly 40% farther than the Hornet, and stay on station 80% longer.
2022 Blue Angels Pensacola Beach Air Show Schedule
The dress rehearsal for the Pensacola Beach Air Show, including a handful of civilian flight and aerobatic demonstrations, begins around 11 a.m. on July 8, with the Blue Angels flying at 2 p.m.
The official Pensacola Beach Air Show on July 9 exactly follows Friday’s dress rehearsal schedule:
- Julian MacQueen will begin the civilian acts portion of the air show in his large flying seaplane, a vintage 1943 Grumman Widgeon from approximately 11 a.m.
- The veteran flight team will be over the Gulf. Hosted by lawyer and Pensacola pilot Roy Kinsey, a dozen vintage Stearman biplane pilots from across the Southeast will fly World War II and Korean War veterans over Pensacola Beach Friday and Saturday to honor them and give the tens of thousands of spectators on the beach a glimpse into aviation history.
- A U.S. Coast Guard sea rescue demonstration will take place near the beach pier from an MH-65D Dolphin medevac helicopter. The SAR crew consists of two pilots, a flight engineer and a rescue swimmer. Depending on the nature of the distress, the rescue swimmer will either free-fall or winch deploy to provide assistance.
- Solo pilot Kevin Coleman pushes the limits of his bright yellow Extra 300 SHP aerobatic plane over Pensacola Beach.
- Team Redline Aerobatic pilots Ken Rieder and Adam Baker soar in their red and black aerobatic planes to perform opposing stunts and inverted maneuvers and formations.
- Stunt pilot Skip Stewart will then wow the crowds with high-skill passes and jaw-dropping maneuvers in his famous red, white and black checkered biplane, Prometheus.
- New to the show this year, Patty Wagstaff, the first woman to win the U.S. National Aerobatic Championship and a six-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team, will take to the skies over Pensacola Beach. His breathtaking performances give air show viewers a front-row view of the precision and intricacy of aerobatics.
- Closing out the civil acts, solo pilot Gary Ward will fly overhead in his green and purple MX2 plane, presenting an aerobatic act packed with jaw-dropping maneuvers from hovering at zero speed to dives at more than 250mph.
- There will be approximately 35 minutes for spectators to cool off and swim in the gulf before lifeguards clear the water again in preparation for the start of the Blue Angels show.
The Blue Angels play
At 2 p.m., gaze toward the Gulf horizon as a famous C-130J aircraft, affectionately nicknamed Fat Albert, followed by six blue and gold F-18 Super Hornets, heads for Pensacola Beach. For the next 50 minutes, viewers will get a glimpse of US Navy Blue Angels aeronautical maneuvers like the Diamond Dirty Loop, Double Farvel, Vertical Pitch, Fleur-de-Lis, Opposing Knife-Edge pass, and crowd favorite -Sneak Pass. These are just a few of the breathtaking displays of choreographed precision the Navy Flight Demonstration Team has perfected over the past 75 years.
The key to finding a parking spot for a Blue Angels show is to arrive early. This means that if you wake up and the sun is up, you are already late. The Casino Beach parking lot usually fills up around 6am on Friday and Saturday.
Shortly Thursday afternoon, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office announced via Facebook that the Casino Beach and Quietwater parking lots were closed.
A tram and bus service will be available to shuttle to East Park.
If you park along other roads, be warned not to park in sand. Every year, cars get stuck in the sand and have to be towed.
If you’re a Florida resident, getting a SunPass can make even infrequent trips to Pensacola Beach — or any other SunPass toll — a breeze. You can buy one from CVS, Publix, or Walgreens for around $5 and preload it for travel.
The Pensacola Beach Toll has moved to a pay-per-plate system that sends drivers a bill at a later date along with a service charge.
Getting around the Blue Angels Pensacola Beach Air Show
To help ease traffic congestion for the Pensacola Beach Air Show, the Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA) is extending transit hours along the island on July 8 and adding additional buses to the July 9 schedule.
The three free open-top trolleys will begin transporting customers from 7:30 a.m. Friday and will extend their service to Park East, located a mile east of Portofino Resort, until 6 p.m. Then the regular route will resume until midnight.
From 6:30 a.m. on July 9, the SRIA will have seven buses in addition to the three trolleys in circulation and will extend its service area to Park East until 6:00 p.m. Thereafter, the trolleys will resume normal operation until midnight.
Trolleys will serve passengers from Park East and Park West to Casino Beach throughout the day. After the show, carts serving Portofino Resort/Park East will be staged on Via de Luna directly across from the Santa Rosa Island Authority (facing east). Trolleys serving Park West will be staged on Fort Pickens Road, next to The Sandshaker (facing west).
Due to heavy traffic and congestion, trolley service to access road stops (Grand Marlin, Radical Rides/Laguna’s, Quietwater Beach and Boardwalk) will be temporarily suspended until 6:00 p.m.
Passengers will only be picked up and dropped off at designated tram stops.
Passengers wishing to return to their vehicles as soon as the air show ends must be on the first fleet of trolleys leaving Casino Beach after the show. Due to the traffic jam that occurs immediately after the air show, passengers should expect to wait up to 90 minutes for the carts to return to Casino Beach if they are not on the first trip.
What can’t I bring?
- Drones are prohibited at the beach show. All unmanned aircraft or drones will be banned from the beach until Saturday. Kites will not be permitted during the air show.
- Glass containers
- Pets will not be permitted on the beach (except dogs in the two designated dog parks during regular business hours).
What should I bring?
- Rain gear
- Garden chairs, blankets
- Cell phones and tablets in a Ziploc bag
- Cameras and camcorders
- A cooler with lots and lots of water. Beer will only dehydrate you and it’s a long day. Don’t forget the snacks. There will be thousands of people on the beach, do you really want to walk to the nearest beach bar?
- beach carts
- Beach umbrella
- Beach hat – and keep it on, you’ll look spectacular
- Sunscreen and reapply often
- Wear shoes, as at this time of year the sand and pavement can be too hot for bare feet.
- The perfect place to see the show is at the center point, just east of the Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier at Casino Beach. Tents are permitted, but be courteous to your new neighbors for the day.