BRUNSWICK — As many as 50,000 people are expected to turn out for the Great State of Maine Air Show at Brunswick Executive Airport this weekend, where U.S. Navy and Air Force pilots and other flyers will take to the skies.
“The show brings in top aviation performances from all around the world,” event spokesman Herb Gillen said Tuesday. “These are the best of the best.”
The Navy’s Blue Angels will headline the Aug. 26-27 lineup of aerial performers, flying in their only New England show of 2017.
Tickets and a schedule are available on the event website.
The Blue Angels, the Navy’s elite flight demonstration squadron, formed in the 1940s after World War II “really as a means to promote naval aviation,” Gillen said. “And that really is still their main mission. This is really a chance for citizens to interact with our military.”
Visitors can expect to see a showcase of aerial maneuvers used by active military pilots, while an announcer describes the stunts over a loudspeaker.
The Blue Angels will “fly as close as 18 inches wing-tip-to-wing-tip,” Gillen said – a little closer than they might while on active duty, but still a powerful depiction of their skill.
The squadron is composed of six F18 Hornets piloted by active Navy airmen who must apply to join the competitive and prestigious squad. Pilots serve two years before returning to their regular military assignments, Gillen said.
In addition to flight demonstrations, a wide-ranging roster of planes will be on display, including a Navy P-3 Orion and two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Vermont National Guard.
This year’s show will also feature the U.S. Special Operations Command Para-Commandos, an elite parachute jump team that will skydive 12,500 feet toward the crowd, reaching speeds of 120 mph before releasing their black-and-gold canopies.
“These (jumpers) are all from different parts of the special operations worlds,” Gillen said. “These guys are the top of their business.”
Flight demonstrations will begin around 11:30 a.m. both days, lasting until about 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday shows aren’t expected to vary, Gillen added.
“Overall, it’s about entertainment, it’s about having fun, it’s a great family atmosphere,” he said.