Blue Angels and Snowbirds, hoverboards and vintage aircraft, and even the Air Force fifth-generation F-35A fighter plane will be in the skies this weekend for the second Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow.
After some touch-and-go moments when the show’s event planner asked the Huntington Beach City Council for some help with costs, which came mostly in the form of raised parking rates for the show, the high-flying extravaganza is returning to the city Friday, Sept. 29 through Sunday, Oct. 1.
Last year’s inaugural show won the 2016 “Airshow of the Year Award,” from Airshowvid.com.
Headlining the action is the legendary Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team, succeeding last year’s headliner the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Also performing this year are the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.
“Rarely do these teams appear together in the same show,” said Mike McCabe, director of airshows for Air Support, the show’s presenter.
Another new performer is French inventor Franky Zapata, who will make his first appearance in an air show in the U.S., showing off his jet-powered hoverboard, called the Flyboard Air. Although his company, Zapata Racing, has made and performed with water-powered versions for several years, the new machine is the first to fly independently without being tethered to any watercraft.
The Huntington Beach City Council earlier this month agreed to give the air show any parking revenues it receives above that of an average weekend at this time of year, which is predicted to be about $100,000. It did not agree to pick up or cap its police and safety costs, which are expected to be more than $200,000.
McCabe said the council and sponsors have rallied to support the show and he is confident it will be on solid feet going forward, particularly once it becomes recognized as a solid show with a track record.
“We’re on track for this year and next,” he said.
Other new additions to the program will be a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, Center with rockets, a flight simulator and military displays to be exhibited on Main Street.
“As the event grows we’ll add more content,” McCabe said.
Mayor Barbara Delgleize is among the show’s big supporters at City Hall.
“I’m ecstatic about the second air show,” she said. “I think long term this could be a very smart investment. I feel very strongly about it.”
Blue Angels: The country’s preeminent aviation demonstration and precision flight team has flown for more than 450 million spectators worldwide since its founding in 1946. The six Navy F/A-18 Hornets perform a variety of maneuvers, highlighted by the “diamond” formation, where the planes fly with each plane’s wings only 18 inches from the wingman. The planes perform a number of routines at more than 700 miles per hour, or just under the sound barrier.
The team is still recovering from the death of Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, who was killed during practice for the Great Tennessee Air Show last year. The team’s C-130 “Fat Albert” support plane has also been grounded after a similar plane crashed in Mississippi in July, killing 15 Marines and a sailor.
Snowbirds: Canada’s elite nine-plane performance team of CT-114s performs at speeds between 115 and 370 miles per hour with formations and head-on passes.
F-35A Joint Strike Fighter: The Air Force’s latest fifth-generation fighter, replacing the F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-110 Thunderbolts. With advanced stealth technology, avionics, sensor fusion and situational awareness, this is the baddest bird in the sky.
Franky Zapata: A thrill-seeking world champion racer of watercraft, he has created a unique flying machine that advances the tethered water-powered jets into the next generation. Truly space-aged stuff.
F-16 Fighting Falcon: Popularly called the “Viper,” this small maneuverable jet has been a proven workhorse in both air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack.
Mike Wiskus Lucas Oil Aerobatics: In his Pitts S1-11B biplane, Wiskus performs breathtaking feats of dizzying derring-do with vertical climbs, stall outs, barrel rolls and loop-the-loops.
By the numbers
$5 million to $8 million – Economic boost to city from air show.
$975,000 – Cost of presenting Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow.
540,000 – Estimated attendance in 2016. This year could exceed 1 million.
$350,000 – Estimated losses in first year of show.
700+ miles per hour – Speed of fastest maneuvers.
18 inches – Distance between wingtip and wingman’s canopy in iconic four-plane diamond formation
7.5 – Number of Gs (for multiples of the force of gravity) pulled during a performance by Blue Angels.
If you go
What: Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow
When: Noon – 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1. (Practice session noon – 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29)
Cost: Free. VIP tickets available.