Air Force Thunderbirds, A-10, Navy Growlers wow sun-splashed crowd at Cocoa Beach Air Show

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds transitioned into a tight diamond formation, flying in a single-file echelon as they passed over the sunny shoreline of Cocoa Beach. Hundreds of canopies and umbrellas lined the carpeted beach, while spectators watched the impressive aerial display.

Without any warning, the Falcon Fighting F-16, painted in blue, white, and red, swooped overhead at a stunning speed, causing the spectators at Cocoa Beach Air Show to be startled by its ear-piercing engine roar.

Maj. Jeffrey Downie, the Thunderbirds narrator, announced to the audience at Lori Wilson Park, “Cocoa Beach, brace yourselves! Thunderbird 6 just surprised you with the sweet melody of liberty.”

More: Here’s the essential information you should be aware of regarding the Cocoa Beach Air Show.

More:She was born in Melbourne. Now ‘Mad’ will pilot A-10 to showcase the Cocoa Beach Air Show.

On Saturday, the Air Show in Cocoa Beach drew tens of thousands of spectators to the oceanfront, as the Thunderbirds headlined the aerobatic performances. The show continued on Sunday, extending from Minutemen Causeway to Pier Beach Cocoa Westgate, creating traffic congestion across the city’s A1A Road State corridor, offering prime viewing areas across the area.

The Thunderbirds are planned to soar from 2 to 2:45 p.M. Commencement ceremonies commence at 11 a.M., With aerial displays commencing around 11:15 a.M.

Civilian stunt performers will also fly. The air show features a lineup of demonstration rescue and search-and-combat aircraft, including the U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler, A-10C Thunderbolt II, and B-52 Stratofortress, as well as the Air Force Reserve’s 920th Rescue Wing’s C-17 Globemaster III bomber, known for its strategic long-range capabilities.

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Photographers take pictures of a B-52 as it flies past the show center on the first day of the Cocoa Beach Air Show, Saturday, April 15, 2023. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK

On Saturday, the Thunderbirds, A-10s, Growlers, and C-17 were dispatched from the Adjacent Patrick Space Force Base. The massive B-52 took flight from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, while Merritt Island Airport was utilized by the civilian entertainers.

The first season of Show Air Beach Cocoa marks the end of the series at Orlando Sanford International Airport on October 28 and 29, followed by dates in Augusta, Georgia; Ocean City, Maryland; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida from April 30 to 29. The organizing company, Dot Air Show, is organizing the next show in New York and Atlanta.

After the national anthem concluded, he gracefully descended onto the sandy ground. He unveiled a massive American flag at a height of 1,800 feet above the shoreline before releasing his parachute. Mike Nugent leaped out of the team’s aircraft at an elevation of 3,500 feet. The Re/Max Skydiving Team initiated the weekend’s celebrations, which were centered in Houston.

The US Air Force Thunderbirds wow the crowds on the beach during the Cocoa Beach Air Show Saturday, April 15, 2023. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK

Tyler Mathews, a fellow member of the Re/Max Skydiving Team, exclaimed, “Conditions are incredible. Couldn’t be more perfect. Gentle breezes, unobstructed skies, hardly any clouds. Visibility is exceptional,” as he stood next to Nugent following their landing at Lori Wilson Park.

Nugent mentioned that the skydivers from Texas spent Friday exploring the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

We have experienced a much more immersive visual experience in Houston compared to a slight sense of excitement in freefall. Mathews mentioned that jumping in Cocoa Beach is not quite as thrilling as being at home.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter floated off the shore of Wilson Park, forming a flotilla of dozens of private watercraft with spectators seafaring towards the north, as the air show took place.

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The aviation unit of Brevard County Sheriff’s Office performed a training exercise for the crowd, where two divers from the UH-1H Huey helicopter unit jumped into the ocean to save a simulated distressed swimmer, while “Enter Sandman” by Metallica blared from the speakers and orange smoke markers were deployed.

Capt. Lindsay “Mad” Johnson, who was born in Melbourne and earned a master’s degree from the Institute of Technology in Florida, is an experienced pilot of the Thunderbolt A-10C aircraft.

During her time in the air, Tech. Sgt. Allen Brewer informed the audience that Capt. Johnson, after graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 2014, has become an experienced instructor pilot with more than 1,150 hours in the A-10 — which includes 87 combat missions totaling 430 flight hours in support of American and coalition ground forces in Afghanistan.

Johnson demonstrated her exceptional performance by executing low-altitude attack runs, simulating the use of her aircraft’s 30-mm Gatling-style autocannon and 500-pound bombs. In addition to her flight heritage with the World War II Mustang P-51 II, she also displayed the Air Force’s slow-speed capabilities.

Johnson conveyed a greeting and gave a shout-out to her family from her cockpit radio that was transmitted over loudspeakers.

“I enjoy being back in my native state. Assault!” Johnson expressed.

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