It’s a bird...it’s a plane... lots of planes! The Fort Lauderdale Air Show is back April 29 to 30 with thrilling acts by celebrated pilots from the military and entertainment industries.
Set on and over Fort Lauderdale beach, the weekend-long annual event is full of unbelievable aerial acrobatics guaranteed to make for a memorable time on our sandy shores.
Who is flying in the Fort Lauderdale Air Show?
All the major aerial acts will perform both Saturday and Sunday from 11:45 a.m. to around 3 p.m. with opening ceremonies starting at 11:15 a.m.
If the air show was a concert, the headliners would be the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. The elite team flies six F-18 Super Hornets to perform both solo maneuvers and formations, including loops, rolls and turns with just 2 feet of space between aircraft.
The Coast Guard will also perform a search and rescue demo to allow the public to see how swimmers jump from a helicopter, stabilizes a person in need, and then bring them back on board. There’s also a throwback with the Air Force Heritage Flight, where you can see fighter aircraft from World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and other conflicts. The F-22 Raptor, built for the Air Force, also makes an appearance during the air show, traveling at 1.5 times the speed of sound. But that’s not its only impressive feat — the pilot will also climb to the heavens, stop in midair, and then reverse to the ground before correcting itself at the last moment. The last military performer is the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Parachute Team, a volunteer group of Special Forces.
The Red Bull Air Force is back, including a show from its helicopter. It is one of a handful in the entire world certified to do aerobatics, such as flying upside down, barrel rolls, vertical climbs, and nose dives. American pilot Kirby Chambliss will also be taking to the skies. Chambliss is the five-time winner of the National Aerobatic Championship and one of the two American pilots to win the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, requiring him to maintain a radical span of 18Gs! Fellow pilot Michael Goulian will also be performing at the air show; he made a name for himself when he was the youngest pilot to win the United States Unlimited Aerobatic Championship at just 27.
Where can I watch the show?
If you’re lucky enough to live close to Fort Lauderdale beach, you might be able to see the action from your backyard. However, there are plenty of VIP and watch parties set up along the beach for those who don’t.
The Fort Lauderdale Air Show has ticketed spaces for guests to indulge in the show, from 10-by-12-foot sandboxes to the VIP penthouse experience on the 10th floor of the Pelican Grand Beach Resort. Many beach hotels, restaurants, and bars along Fort Lauderdale beach host viewing parties, so keep your eyes peeled for those experiences.
If you love the ocean as much as the twists and turns up above for the show, the U.S. Coast Guard will have a 4-mile safety zone that stretches along the eastern perimeter of the show space that goes out about one mile. Boaters can bring their vessels to the watercraft viewing area just outside of this safety zone to enjoy a day on the water while watching the airplanes, helicopters, and daredevils complete their tricks.
While the Fort Lauderdale Air Show is free and open to the public, there is an extra cost for elevated experiences, such as the Sand Boxes, Drop Zone, Flight Line Club, or VIP access. If you can’t make it to the show but would like to watch it, show organizers offer a livestream video option on its website.
PRO TIP: On the Friday before the show, there will be a dress rehearsal, which you can watch from Fort Lauderdale beach. Though the rehearsal schedule isn't public, bookmark the event’s official Facebook page for the latest updates.
Where can we park?
Expect a lot of traffic around Fort Lauderdale beach during the show, as it certainly draws a crowd. A1A will be closed off to road traffic and open to pedestrians, although security will be asking people to keep it moving. Guests are encouraged to check out the viewing options we shared before.
The Drop Zone Beach opens at 9 a.m. and the Flight Line Club beach area opens at 10 a.m. For those who purchase Sand Box tickets, there is parking and a shuttle from nearby Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Flight Line Club VIP ticket holders who reserve a private box are granted two parking options, and VIP Penthouse ticket holders can valet their car at the hotel. Otherwise, it’s recommended that guests take advantage of rideshares to avoid traffic and parking.
What else is there to do in the area?
If waiting in traffic after the show isn’t your idea of fun, you can wait it out right where you are on Fort Lauderdale beach! This stretch has a litany of food and beverage options, from the tucked-away Wine Garden, sushi at Takato, or poolside drinks at The Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel Fort Lauderdale Beach. Any destination on the beach will be a hotspot, so make reservations ahead of time to ensure a spot.
There’s also a stop for the Water Taxi on the beach, making it a great opportunity to explore the New River and downtown Fort Lauderdale’s attractions, including buzzing Las Olas Boulevard.
Do as the locals do and join us on the beach for the air show. We hope to see you there!