|The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron Blue Angels fly in formation over thousands of spectators in March during the Melbourne Air & Space Show at Melbourne International Airport.|
This spring, Melbourne Air & Space Show organizers will unveil what’s touted as the Space Coast’s first nighttime air show — featuring colorful fireworks launched from stunt aircraft.
Friday Night Flight will begin at twilight and finish in full darkness on April 1, kicking off the Melbourne Air & Space Show at Melbourne International Airport. The AeroShell Aerobatic Team, a civilian squadron that flies AT-6 Texans in close formation, and a pint-sized SubSonex microjet were announced as performers this morning, said Bryan Lilley, air show chairman.
“Night shows are something that’s gaining popularity among the larger air shows in the country. It’s something we’ve been thinking about since we’ve gone to the airport. After having a couple years under our belt, and talking with the airport about it, everyone liked the idea,” Lilley said.
“Night shows are really cool because they combine the spectacles of aviation with the awe of fireworks and lights. Most everybody has seen fireworks launched from the ground. The idea of fireworks and pyro being launched from the wingtips of aircraft, and big giant sparklers coming out from the wings … and then we’ve got a parachute team on tap,” he said.
The daytime air show takes place Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3. More performers will be announced in the coming weeks, Lilley said.
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A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor performs at an air show in in Las Vegas in November 2014. Video by USAF.
The AeroShell Aerobatic Team is based in Birmingham, Alabama.
The SubSonex microjet is piloted by Bob Carlton of Albuquerque, New
“The microjet’s really interesting. It’s got an 18-foot
wingspan, and it’s 16.5 feet long. To see one of them fly, it almost
defies imagination. It’s amazing how big of a footprint that little jet
has in the sky in a night show,” Lilley said.
In March, tens of
thousands of spectators attended the Melbourne Air & Space Show,
which was headlined by the Navy Blue Angels, two F-22 Raptors, two F-16
Fighting Falcons and two Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys.
Grumman Aerospace Systems has signed on as a multi-year title sponsor of
the air show, Lilley said, adding stability in booking performers.