Tampa Bay Airfest is set for this weekend

The USAF Thunderbirds highlight two exciting days at MacDill Air Force Base

mclear@bradenton.comMarch 20, 2014 

There's a long list of events and performers scheduled for the 2014 Tampa Bay Airfest. There's also a long list of prohibited items.

Hard or soft coolers, glass containers, pets, fireworks, knives, weapons of any sort regardless if you have a permit for them, large bags or backpacks, tents, pop-ups, large umbrellas, beach umbrellas, awnings. Security people can also refuse to let you bring in anything else that they feel uncomfortable about.

Leave all that stuff at home, though, and you should have tons of fun at Airfest, which is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

The prohibitions are largely due to Airfest being held at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base, one of the most important military installations in the country. So strict security precautions are understandable.

But once you're through the gates, there's two full days of spectacular performances and demonstrations.

The headliners are the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, one of the most famous precision flying teams in the world. Another team that should be worth seeing is the Geico Skytypers, who fly World War II-era planes. Skydivers, aerobatic teams and other spectacular aerial performers are also on tap.

There are also plenty of ground-based displays, including some of the most high-tech airplanes and helicopters in the U.S. military.

Airfest has always been free, and parking has always been free, too. This year is no exception. But for the fist time, this year's festival offers a limited number of reserved seats for $15. Airfest officials expect those to sell out quickly.

By the way, in addition to all those are prohibited, there are a couple that Airfest organizers strongly advise you to bring with you: a good camera and plenty of sunscreen.

Gates open at 8 a.m. and demonstrations start at 9 a.m. both days. Here's a schedule of major events. It's the same for both days:

10:30 a.m.: Opening ceremonies -- USSOCOM Jump and National Anthem

10:55 a.m.: Rob Holland -- Mike Goulian dual aerobatic demo

11:10 a.m.: MacDill KC-135 demo

11:15 a.m.: RV-8 demo

11:25 a.m.: B-25

11:40 a.m.: JCSE Static Line Jump

11:55 a.m.: Scott Yoak P-51 demo

12:10 p.m.: Melissa and Rex Pemberton

12:25 p.m.: USSOCOM Jump -- aerial formation

12:45 p.m.: P-51/F-4U Heritage Flight

1 p.m.: T-28 Demo

1:15 p.m.: Randy Ball -- Mig 17F

1:25 p.m.: GEICO Skytypers

1:45 p.m.: Michael Goulian

2 p.m.: L-39

2:15 p.m.: Matt Younkin

2:30 p.m.: Rob Holland

2:45 p.m.: AeroShell Aerobatic Team

3 p.m.: USAF Thunderbirds

Details: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. March 22-23, MacDill Air Force Base, 6801 S. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Tickets: General admission free; reserved seating $15. Information: www.macdill.af.mil/airfest.

-- Marty Clear

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