PUNTA GORDA — Officials with the Florida International Air Show are excited about the return of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
And they are telling fans the time is now to purchase tickets.
According to a news release, the elite air-demonstration team will perform Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 during the Florida International Air Show at the Punta Gorda Airport. The air show runs from Nov. 1-3 at the location.
Air show board President Dana Carr is anticipating the event and the Thunderbirds, which he noted is their first appearance in the region since 2014.
“I’m excited. Historically when we have a jet team, it doubles or triples our attendance,” Carr said according to a news release. “You got to figure we’re going to draw up to 40,000, 50,000 people.”
General admission and reserved tickets are now available in a variety of discounted prices, according to the news release, including weekend and family packages. They are available online at www.floridaairshow.com" target="_blank">www.floridaairshow.com.
“The No. 1 reason people attend air shows are jet teams,” Carr said in the news release. “We’re expecting a huge crowd this year that we haven’t seen since 2014.”
The news release notes that sponsorships are also available. Information on sponsorships are also available at www.floridaairshow.com.
In February, Air Force Maj. Jason Markzon, a pilot, and Tech Sgt. Bryson Schuster, a maintenance crew chief, flew into Punta Gorda Airport for a site survey.
It involved “pretty much every aspect” of what the team needs to know, Schuster said. “So far, so good.”
The shows last about 45 minutes; Markzon is the show’s narrator.
“We’re excited to be coming to Punta Gorda,” Markzon said at the time. “It’s going to be an exciting show.”
The Thunderbirds, formed in 1953, is based at Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas. The eight-aircraft team tours throughout the world and completes more than 60 shows a year in F-16 fighters.
“It goes up to roughly 1,500 mph,” Markzon said. “It can fly at 50,000 feet ... We can pretty much fly straight up.”
The news release said the Punta Gorda show is the team’s final road performance of 2019 before they return to Nellis for a home show Nov. 16-17.
“To finish the season in Florida is going to be exciting for us,” Markzon said according to the news release. “I know we’re going to bring a lot of energy to Punta Gorda.”
“You guys are going to see some of the best flying of the season. We’ll have a lot of shows under our belts by then, and everybody is going to know where the other guy is without hesitation. There will be some tight, dangerous formations.”