Fort Lauderdale Air Show Ends on a High Note

Air Force Thunderbirds (U.S. Air Force photo)
Air Force Thunderbirds (U.S. Air Force photo)

Sunny skies and roaring jets returned to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday for the final day of the air show.

The four-hour event was again filled with planes dipping, diving and zooming at hundreds of miles per hour over thousands on the beach and in boats scattered in the ocean.

Attendees cheered in admiration as rock-and-roll music throbbed in the background and smoke from barbecues hovered above the crowd.

A skywriting plane wrote a special message over the beach, "Happy Mother's Day."

Nick Halseth, 42, said he saw a noticeable increase in people compared with the most recent show, in 2013.

Halseth, who parachuted with an American flag trailing behind him at the start of the day, said he enjoyed the view from 4,000 feet up.

"We're from the Midwest," said Halseth, who is based in Minnesota with the Lucas Oil Parachute Jump Team. "We're used to jumping over green fields and cows."

Participants at the event for the first time said they were impressed by the weather and support from those in the audience.

"It's been a pleasure," said Matt Mayer, 34, who was part of the team showcasing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter plane.

The show also included a Canadian Royal Air Force CF-18, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, F/A- 18 Hornets, a U.S. Marines AV-8B Harrier II and the Air Force Thunderbirds.

Bryan Lilley, president of the air show, said the good weather combined with changes to where military planes were stationed and what streets were blocked off helped improve the event from previous years.

The last two air shows were canceled because of construction at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and on State Road A1A.

"Everybody wanted to make it happen," Lilley said. "The cooperation has been fantastic."

Before Sunday's show was over Lilley was thinking about the future, saying the show was scheduled to be back for years to come.

The Fort Lauderdale air show is tentatively scheduled to return May 6-7, 2017.

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