By Luke Phillips
El Centro residents may have noticed some aerial acrobatics over their city in recent weeks as the Blue Angels practice for the upcoming El Centro Air Show, set for Saturday, March 13.
The Blue Angels spend the winter practicing at Naval Air Facility El Centro before kicking off their country-wide tour with the El Centro Air Show.
This year’s air show will feature aerial performances by several different pilots in a variety of aircraft.
Pilots Bill Cornick and Spencer Suderman will face off in an aerial race with an innovative new format featuring high-performance planes and a vertical course. The two pilots will race through an aerobatic sequence in a side-by-side dual that challenges each pilot to fly the maneuvers as quickly as possible.
Two parachute jump teams will perform including the Silver Wings, an army team from Fort Benning, Georgia, and the Black Daggers, the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team. According to information on their Web site, the Black Daggers are comprised of volunteers from throughout Army Special Operations and have diverse backgrounds and are skilled in various military specialties including Special Forces, Rangers, civil affairs, psychological operations and signal and support.
Other planned aerial demonstrations include a performance by Warbird Aerobatics, a tactical demonstration featuring an F/A-18 Hornet, a C-17 Globemaster and an F-16 Viper, and the Heritage Flight featuring an F-16 and a P-51. The Fallon Longhorns Search and Rescue team will also be on hand with a helicopter performance.
Also, a group out of NAS Fallon will use a B-25 bomber, along with a P-51 escort, to create a giant wall of fire.
There will also be lots more action on the ground. Static displays will include AV-8B Harrier, T-6 Texan II, CH-47 Chinook, SH-60F Seahawk, EA-6B Prowler and C-17 Globemaster military planes along with dozens more civilian displays.
There will also be a performance by ‘Rock Star’ motocross team Metal Mulisha. Teams from Metal Mulisha will perform high jumps and stunts to a hard-rock soundtrack.
The El Centro Air Show will take place Saturday, March 13 at NAF El Centro, located just off Interstate 8 at the Forrester Rd. exit. Admission is free and gates open at 8 a.m.
Prohibited items at the air show include all kinds of weapons (regardless of permit) including pocket knives, alcoholic beverages (unless purchased from approved vendors), outside food and drinks, ice chests or coolers, pets other than service animals, glass containers, bicycles, roller skates, roller blades, heelys, scooters, skateboards, Segways, backpacks/bags larger than 8 1/2×11 inches and fireworks.
Attendees are encouraged to bring plenty of water and sun protection, comfortable footwear, cameras and chairs or blankets to sit on.
For more information on the El Centro Air Show, contact NAF El Centro at (760) 339-2519.
By Luke Phillips