Blue Angels to Headline NAS Key West’s Bicentennial Air Show April 15-16
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, April 15-16, during the Southernmost Air Spectacular.
Presented by Naval Air Station Key West and held in the vast skies above the Lower Florida Keys, the 2023 show is themed “200 Years of the Navy in Key West.” The theme commemorates Commodore David Porter’s 1823 arrival and construction of the first U.S. Navy buildings on the island. Today Naval Air Station Key West is the Navy’s premier air-to-air combat training station.
The air show is headquartered at NAS Key West’s Boca Chica Field, located at mile marker 8 on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. Gates are to open at 10 a.m. both days, with the show scheduled to begin at 11 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 Super Hornet fighter aircraft beginning around 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 the supersonic Northrop F-5N Tiger II, the same aircraft featured in the 1986 film “Top Gun”; the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team, operating the Air Force’s most advanced multirole fighter aircraft; 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. and featuring a historic P-51 Mustang; 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 the four-man AeroShell Aerobatic Team, four-time World Aerobatic Championships freestyle winner Rob Holland, showman Skip Stewart flying his custom-built biplane Prometheus and flyer Bill Stein in his Zivko Edge 540.
Demonstrations by the famous Aftershock Jet Fire Truck and Eric Nelson’s Precision Exotics cars are planned as well.
In addition, attendees can view the Chapters Health Valor Program’s “American Veterans Traveling Tribute Wall,” an 80% scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
Static displays of more than 30 civilian and military aircraft, food and beverage vendors, virtual games and other attractions at vendor booths, a kids’ zone with rides and inflatables, souvenir booths and the presence of the Southernmost Car Club are to add to the show’s appeal.
General admission to the air show is free and spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets. Alternatively, they can purchase reserved box seats or “Flightline Club” VIP seating either in advance or, if available, on show days.
Event information and ticketing: airshowkeywest.com
The U.S. Navy’s elite Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron are to perform at the Southernmost Air Spectacular April 15 and 16. Photo: Rob O'Neal
Aerobatic showman Skip Stewart is to fly his custom-built biplane Prometheus along with other civilian air show performers.