Thunderbirds Make First Stop in Florida at Tampa Bay AirFest

This air show season has its first big player for 2016 as the Air Force Thunderbirds headline Tampa Bay AirFest at MacDill Air Force Base this weekend.

The team will take to the skies on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons highlighting a full day of military and civilian aircraft performances at the event.

Gates open at 8 a.m. with the first performances coming at 11 a.m. Since it's at a military base, the event and parking are free.

In addition to the Thunderbirds, AirFest will feature military flights from the KC-135 Stratotanker, an A-4 and an F-18 as well as the U.S. Special Operations Command Parachute Team. Civilian acts include the Geico Skytypers, Red Bull Air Force, Jerry Kerby Randy Ball, Rob Holland, Michael Goulian, Scott Yoak, Jim Tobul and Kirby Chambliss flying a variety of aircraft including a P-51 and Mig-17F.

On the ground for visitors to get a look at and even climb into will be more than 50 planes and other Air Force vehicles including the A-10 Warthog, F-35, F-15C Eagle, T-6 Texan, C-17 Globemaster III, H-60 helicopter, F-22, F-15E, T-38 Talon, B-25, C-5 Galaxy, C-47, F-18, C-130J Super Hercules, B-1 Lancer, KC-10, C-31, T-1 Jayhawk, WC-130, B-52, C-130, F-16 and TC-135.

This is the first of five stops in Florida for the Thunderbirds, which will make two more spring stops: April 9-10 at the new Gateway to Florida Air Show in Lake City and May 7-8 for the Lauderdale Air Show. This fall, the team will perform Oct 8-9 for the Embry-Riddle Wings and Waves Air Show in Daytona Beach and Nov. 5-6 Wings Over Homestead show at Homestead Air Reserve Base.

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