[UPDATE] Thunderbirds appearance at the 2018 March Field Air & Space Expo has been canceled due to a tragic accident over the Nevada Test and Training Range on 4/4/18.
March Field Air & Space Expo
March Air Reserve Base, located near Riverside, CA, will host its biennial “March Field Air & Space Expo: Thunder Over the Empire” this Saturday and Sunday, April 7th and 8th. All photos in this article are from the 2016 March AirFest.
Expect traffic and congestion
Gates will open at 8 am both days, 3 hours before the start of aerial performances. Plan to arrive as early as possible to avoid traffic and congestion. Arriving early will also give you an extra time to tour all of the static aircraft. Organizers are planning to display more than the usual amount of static aircraft as the base also celebrates its centennial this year.
The oldest plane scheduled to appear as a static display will be a Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” biplane used to train cadets at March Field 100 years ago. Other static displays will include a Lockheed AC-130 Spectre, Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer, Boeing B-52H Stratofortress, Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II and many more.
Aerial performances will begin at 11 AM with the national anthem and a traditional American flag parachute team followed by a fly-by of a USAF Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker and Boeing C-17A Globemaster III. Other performances will include a trainer parade, aviation reenactment with WWII era fighters and bombers, a North American P-51 Mustang tribute performance, and dogfighting with early jets of the Korean War. Modern USAF fighters and a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper UAV are also scheduled for a fly-by.
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
The show will end on both days with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flying in formation in their General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons. This will be one of the two opportunities to see them in Southern California this year.
Visit the air show website to see the full schedule and other important information. Remember to charge your camera battery and bring extra memory cards. Don’t forget the sunscreen and water. Bring folding chairs or something else to sit on. It is also recommended for kids to wear ear plugs, especially for jet performances.