The Florida International Air Show is underway in Punta Gorda, FL. With a massive jet powered truck, some of the best parachutists from the Army, relic airplanes, a train car from the Holocaust, teams of in synch airplanes flying overhead, commercial airline flights lifting off, and daredevil stunt fliers doing amazing tricks that make you hold your breath, the airshow will make you want to fly. There’s so many different planes to see, from ones that you can get up close and personal with, to the ones doing gravity defying tricks in the sky, it makes you want to put on air goggles like Snoopy and soar.
Last year, I was lucky enough to get to fly with the Army’s Golden Knights Parachute Team. That was much different from hoping on an Allegiant flight at the Punta Gorda Airport to fly direct into Toledo, OH, as the Army plane had the door open almost the whole flight. It tripped me out to see the guys leaning over the edge, nearly half their body hanging over, looking down, scouting where their baton dropped, testing winds and conditions before they jump to ensure they hit the mark on landing.
There’s different rituals they do, like a pre-jump huddle, their chanting and stomping upon takeoff; they even have their own way of communicating while up in the air, as it is very noisy with the doors open. The further up you go, the colder it gets. It doesn’t matter if it’s more than 90 degrees on the ground of the Sunshine State, once you get up into those clouds at the height they jump from, you need gloves – and don’t forget steel toed-boots, too, FYI, in case you ever get to fly with them.
The team is back again this year, performing amazing feats, different tricks than what they did last year, different formations. For example, tonight they had fireworks attached to their ankles, as they jumped in the dark, doing a team formation of at least five guys, possibly six, each landing perfectly. Watching their acrobatic feats gets the adrenaline pumping, but not quite as much as watching them getting sucked out of the plane as they jump, as wind suction happens so fast it’s almost a little scary.
On the ground at the airshow, there’s plenty to see, from a massive ship with costume period dressed Ponce De Leon Conquistadors of Charlotte County, to the roaring fire of a hot air balloon sailed by the Immokalee Seminole Casino Hotel. There’s so many booths to check out, it will keep you entertained for hours, in between watching the main attractions. That’s the nice thing about an airshow: you can walk around, check stuff out, and when the next act flies, turn your eyes to the skies.
The best thing about going Friday night is being able to see things like the Jet Truck illuminating the sky, followed by the awesome fireworks display. Bursts of colors boom upwards, flowering over the darkness of the night. As the blossoms grow brighter, more firework buds thrust into the pitch black to erupt into their own explosion of colors, each one prettier than the last, making your jaw drop, “ooohh!”
What better way to spend a Friday the 13th than by hanging out in the Harley Tent, watching the Golden Knights drop from the sky, jet engines hiss flames of thrust, daredevil stunt pilots crisscrossing each other and the breathtaking flips, twists, turns, loops, and scoops of planes zooming? The Florida International Airshow is happening all weekend, with gates opening at 10 a.m., and the show starting at noon and ending just before sundown at the Punta Gorda Airport. It’s a completely different layout from last year, with more space to sprawl out, so the show will continue to grow over the years.
This year, many performers will be doing a salute to World War II Veterans. A train car from the Holocaust was brought in, so people could get an idea what a trip may have been like for those poor, unfortunate souls who were doomed to experience concentration camps. There will be Warbirds doing a special performance to honor local and guest veterans of World War II, along with other performers.
Though it’s an airshow, there’s more than just planes. From the Holocaust train car, to the newest Harley Davidson motorcycles on display, an awesome racing boat, the Jet Truck display, and the Conquistador boat, there’s plenty of other types of moving objects to check out. For the little ones, there’s even a vast array of inflatable games to play with, from hamster balling in the water, to big slides to race down, there’s a bunch of blow up fun that is sure to make for some big smiles; for the athletes, there’s an inaugural 5k race, which is likely to become a yearly tradition, so come join the fun!
For more information, visit www.floridaairshow.com or www.facebook.com/floridaairshow. For more by Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz.