Coastal Carolina Air Show
1740 Airport Blvd. Suite 12
Saturday and Sunday,
April 16-17, 11 a.m. -5 p.m.
When the animals around my neighborhood jump fence and hide under bushes, it can only mean one thing: The Coastal Carolina Air Show is back in town. Living less than a mile from ILM, one of the rather apparent sounds to airport-neighborhood living is the difference between the takeoff of a regular commercial jet and a P-51 Horseman Aerobatic Team flying overhead. Let’s just say my cats and dog aren’t a fan of the latter.
However, I am one to find it rather exhilarating. I can stand in my front yard and see the jets take off, shoot straight up (and down), defying all rules of gravity, and land with a force to be reckoned. Somehow, that rush of adrenaline never gets old.
With an action-packed weekend of aeronautic amazement ahead, the Coastal Carolina Air Show takes place April 16 and 17 at Wilmington International Airport off 23rd Street. On the bill will be the Heavy Metal Jet Team, a five-ship aerobatic civilian-owned group, led by former Thunderbird pilots, F-14 fighter pilots and world record-holder pilots. They’ll swoosh, flip, jolt and idle with awe-inspiring energy.
The P-51 Horseman, the world’s only P-51 Mustang Formation Aerobatic Team, will make their debut in ILM, too, during the air show. They will lock in and step into formation with ease and disbelief, keeping many swerving in the dizziness of the powerful G-force. They even have choreographed their flight to an original composition by Oscar winner James Horner (“Avatar,” “Titanic,” “Braveheart”).
Also on the bill is the Heritage Flight, which showcases the progression of USAF air power as the vintage WWII P8511 Mustang flies in syncopation with a state-of-the-art F-16 Fighter Jet and a Warbird. Others taking to Wilmington’s blue skies will be the Viper East, the F-16 from Shaw Air Force Base, and Pilot Michael Wiskus, who will fly his Pitts S1. The light aerobatic plane was designed by Curtis Pitts, which dominated aerobatic competitions in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Greg Poe will demonstrate his superiority over the steel bird, and the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team will fly the WWII North American Advance Trainer, T-6, led by four pilots in four planes, showcasing a precise, innovative repertoire.
The Black Daggers, a U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Team, will perform live demonstrations, as will the aerial refueling military plane, Boeing KC-135, which was used in the Vietnam War and Desert Storm, and continues serving the military today. Bill Braack will lead the way via ground on his Smoke-n-Thunder JetCar, which can hit a speed up to 400 miles per hour in only eight seconds flat.
Spectators can also get in on the action aboard the B-52 Bomber, the Panchito. Public rides will be offered in 30-minute “missions” and cost $425—a tax-deductible donation to the Delaware Aviation Museum, which oversees the flight experience.
Numerous planes will be on display, including a P47 Thunderbolt, F4U Corsair, AD4 Skyraider, and Piedmont’s DC-3, among another dozen or so. Folks will be able to tour them and learn more about aviation in all facets. Huey rides will be offered on the military helicopter, as will monster truck rides for those so inclined. There will be BMX stunt and motorcycle demo teams performing, a flight simulator and a Kids Zone for the little ones.
Gates will open daily at 8 a.m. The flying starts at 11 a.m. and will continue until 5 p.m. Bags will be checked at entry, and concessions are sold on site (no coolers allowed!).
Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the gate for adults 13 and over; of $6 in advance and $8 at the gate for kids 12 and under; kids under five admitted free.
Pets are not permitted; though, I imagine one would be hard-pressed to get Fido or Tiger near the air field. I am sure mine will take their usual positions at home: under the bed.