Alright, folks, it's that time again. Grab your earplugs and start making plans to spend a day on the tarmac at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station. The biennial air show and open house runs Friday through Sunday, May 4-6, with the aim of breaking the last events's record of more than 200,000 visitors in 2016.
How do you break a record? According to organizers at Cherry Point, you simply add more world-class performances to an already stellar line up. With free parking and admission, we venture to guess they'll have no trouble drawing another huge crowd.
The show starts out with a bang Friday night, with the always-popular night show – a must see for those who haven’t experienced it before. While the Blue Angels do not perform due to safety concerns, the show includes spectacular aerial pyrotechnic displays, roaring afterburners, skydiver demonstrations and a large fireworks display set to patriotic music as well as live music. Gates open at 5pm and cars begin lining up along Highway 101 well in advance. We recommend an early arrival for good parking.
On Saturday and Sunday, gates open at 8am and full days of activities are on tap. for a full schedule of activities. Static displays, ride simulators and a fun zone for kids combine with vendors, live entertainment and plenty of options for food, to create a perfect family day.
It’s the acrobatics in the sky, however, that steal the spotlight. This year's air show features the always-popular US Navy Blue Angels. Other highlights in a long lineup of performances include the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, Bill Leff, Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, the Shockwave Jet Truck, US Army Black Daggers, Rob Holland and the tightly choreographed aerobatics of local favorite Hubie Tolson.
While all events are free, including parking, there are a limited number of special premium seats and packages available, from $10-$15 for a bleacher seat to $80-$90 for a full Flightline Club Chalet package, which includes breakfast and lunch, beverages, preferred parking and access to the air conditioned chalet tent and semi-private restrooms. For pricing and availability, visit www.cherrypointairshow.com.
Organizers recommend that guests bring along comfort items to help make their visit, well, more comfortable. Lawn chairs, blankets, sun screen, umbrellas, hats, jackets, cameras and, of course, those earplugs are suggested. ATM’s are available on-site, but organizers note that the lines are often quite long.
Shuttle buses will operate throughout the festivities to help people get from parking areas to the tarmac. Keep in mind that pets, glass, coolers, alcohol, pocket knives, weapons and any wheeled vehicle other than strollers and wheelchairs are prohibited. It’s also important to be mindful of the fact that guests are entering a government facility and are subject to searches at any time.