First time at an airshow?

Some common tips for the beginner

Chaz JT

5/27/20233 min read

grayscale photo of airplane under cloudy sky
grayscale photo of airplane under cloudy sky

Attending an airshow for the first time can be an exhilarating experience. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:

#1: Check the schedule: Prior to attending, familiarize yourself with the airshow schedule. Look for the timings of specific performances, demonstrations, and any special events happening throughout the day. Plan your visit accordingly to ensure you don't miss out on the highlights.

#2: Arrive early: Airshows can attract large crowds, so arriving early allows you to find a good parking spot and secure a prime viewing location. This will also give you ample time to explore the static displays, interact with pilots and crew members, and soak in the overall atmosphere. One of my favorite things to do is to stay at a nearby hotel the night before the airshow. That way I'm well rested and have a short commute to the airshow, just remember to book your hotel room three to six months in advance!

#3: Dress appropriately: Airshows are typically held outdoors, so dress comfortably and consider the weather conditions. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. Also, bring a lightweight jacket or sweater in case it gets chilly, as the temperature can change throughout the day.

#4: Bring essentials: Check the security guidelines of the show you are planning to attend to see what items are allowed and which ones are prohibited first. Most if not all airshows will allow you to bring an unopened bottle of water (or an empty clear bottle if water is available on location), a set of earplugs for hearing protection, and whatever camera equipment you have. If you are viewing the show from the general admission area, bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on. Don't forget to bring some cash too, some vendors may not accept credit cards. Some military bases vary in what they allow on base, so check the rules thoroughly before attending.

#5: Follow safety guidelines: Airshows have specific safety guidelines that you should adhere to for your own well-being. Pay attention to any announcements, signage, or instructions provided by the organizers. Stay behind designated barriers and refrain from crossing restricted areas.

#6: Be mindful of aircraft noise: Aircraft engines can be extremely loud, so be prepared for the noise level. Keep an eye on children, ensuring their safety and comfort. If you find the noise overwhelming, consider taking breaks in quieter areas or wearing ear protection (it's a must have!).

#7: Stay hydrated and nourished: Airshows can be physically demanding, so drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day. Purchase food from the available vendors to keep your energy levels up. Most military bases provide water mules (portable drinking water tanks) that allow you to refill a water bottle, however if none are available there are plenty of drinks available from vendors.

#8: Explore static displays: Take advantage of the opportunity to get up close to various aircraft on display. Many airshows offer static displays where you can walk around, take photos, and learn more about the aircraft from knowledgeable volunteers or crew members. Don't be afraid to ask questions and engage with the exhibitors.

#9: Observe flight demonstrations: The highlight of an airshow is often the aerial displays and demonstrations. Find a good vantage point that offers an unobstructed view of the sky and the flight line. Pay attention to the flying patterns, maneuvers, and the unique capabilities of each aircraft. Most airshows sell reserved seating and VIP tickets, some with their own bathrooms, covered tents, and catered meals.

#10: Enjoy the atmosphere: Airshows are not just about the aircraft; they also offer a vibrant atmosphere with a sense of community. Take the time to enjoy the camaraderie, meet fellow aviation enthusiasts, and appreciate the passion and skill of the pilots and performers.

Remember to have fun and embrace the experience. Airshows offer a thrilling opportunity to witness incredible aerial displays and gain a deeper appreciation for aviation.