The skies are clearing for air shows in Florida for the upcoming year and beyond with the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels nailing down dates, and the Sunshine State has a lot of stops on their tours.
Both military performance teams will make five Florida appearances in 2014, and the Blue Angels have added their 2015 dates as well, with four Florida stops planned.
One big winner in the announced dates is the Melbourne Air & Space Show, which held its inaugural event this year, despite the grounding of both headliners in 2013.
The beachside show has nailed down the Thunderbirds in October 2014 and Blue Angels in March 2015. Part of the success is due to landing Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems as a title partner of the show.
"We are pleased to have such a leading global aerospace company as our partner," said Bryan Lilley, Chairman of the National Air, Sea and Space Foundation, who organizes the event. "With the support of Northrop Grumman and commitments from both of our nation's military jet demonstration teams in 2014 and 2015, the Melbourne Air & Space Show is poised to become one of the top aerospace shows in the nation."
The county is home to Patrick Air Force Base and is traditionally a draw for the Air Force team. The Blue Angels have not performed in Brevard since 2008 when the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex was hosting an air show.
Central Florida will get its fill of air shows in 2014 with the Thunderbirds also returning to Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base for AirFest in March and to the Wings & Waves Air Show in Daytona Beach in October. The Blue Angels will be the headliner at the massive Sun 'n Fun air show in Lakeland in April as well.
The Blue Angels will make their normal air show stops in Pensacola Beach in July, Jacksonville in October and then their homecoming finale in Pensacola come November.
Other cities getting shows this year include Punta Gorda and Vero Beach. Notably missing from this year is the Fort Lauderdale air show, canceled for 2013 because of expansion at the international airport there.
Both military teams had not performed since April after sequestration forced budget cuts on the military. In October, though, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined a plan for a return to the skies.
"Community and public outreach is a crucial Departmental activity that reinforces trust and confidence in the United States Military and in its most important asset -- people," Hagel wrote in a memorandum. "It is our obligation to sustain that trust well into the future."
Here's the full lineup:
Feb. 23: Flyover at Daytona International Speedway for the Daytona 500
March 22-23: AirFest at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa
March 29-30: Florida International Air Show, Punta Gorda
Oct. 4-5: Melbourne Air & Space Show
Oct. 11-12: Wings & Waves Air Show, Daytona Beach
2014 Blue Angels
April 5-6: Sun 'n Fun air show, Lakeland
May 10-11: Vero Beach Airshow
July 12: Pensacola Beach Air Show
Oct. 25-26: Sea & Sky Spectacular, Jacksonville Beach
Nov. 7-8: Homecoming Air Show at Pensacola Naval Air Station
2015 Blue Angels
March 21-22: Melbourne Air & Space Show
July 11: Pensacola Beach Air Show
Oct. 24-25: Sea & Sky Spectacular, Jacksonville Beach
Nov. 6-7: Homecoming Air Show at Pensacola Naval Air Station