KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Aviation aficionados can view the dynamic flying of the U.S. Navy’s elite Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron as well as other military and civilian professionals Saturday and Sunday, March 30-31, during the Southernmost Air Spectacular.
Presented by Naval Air Station Key West, the 2019 show is themed “Women in Aviation” and takes place in the vast clear skies above the Lower Florida Keys.
The air show is headquartered at NAS Key West’s Boca Chica Field, mile marker 8 on U.S. Highway 1 just north of Key West. Gates are to open at 9 a.m. both days, with the show scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.
The legendary Blue Angels are internationally recognized for their superb formation flying and demonstrations of maneuvers used in aerial combat. The squadron, whose winter home was NAS Key West in the 1960s, is to perform maneuvers in F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The Blue Angels date back to the end of World War II, when Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Chester W. Nimitz ordered the formation of a flight demonstration team to showcase naval aviation. An estimated 11 million spectators view their shows each year.
Other planned show highlights include demonstrations by the U.S. Navy Reserve Adversary Squadron VFC-111 “Sun Downers,” flying a rare “FrankenTiger” and 17 other Northrop planes; the NAS Key West Search and Rescue Unit; the Legacy Flight team, created to honor the people and aircraft that have defended the U.S., featuring a historic F4U Corsair warbird; and the U.S. Special Operations Para-Commandos Parachute Team, whose members skydive from 12,500 feet.
Also scheduled are civilian aerobatic exhibitions by leading air show performers including Patty Wagstaff, the first woman to win the title of U.S. National Aerobatic champion; the Misty Blues All Woman Skydiving Team, known as the world’s premier female skydiving demonstration team; wing-walker Ashley Shelton and her pilot husband Greg Shelton; and the world famous Shockwave Jet Truck.
Static displays of military and civilian aircraft, food and beverage vendors, exhibitors, sales of aviation related merchandise, a kids’ zone, helicopter rides by Air Adventures Key West and a “Women in Aviation” meet and greet round out the attractions.
General admission to the air show is free and spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets. Alternatively, attendees can purchase general-admission bleacher seats, assigned box seats or “Flightline Club” VIP tables either in advance or at the gate.
Event information and ticketing: airshowkeywest.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
Lower Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com/lowerkeys or 1-800-872-3722
The legendary Blue Angels are internationally recognized for their superb formation flying and demonstrations of maneuvers used in aerial combat. Image: Mike Freas
Blue Angels perform during the 2013 Naval Air Station Key West Southernmost Air Spectacular air show. Image: Petty Officer Rachel McMarr/U.S. Navy