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Pacific Airshow will return to Huntington Beach this October

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds fly in close formation at the Great Pacific Airshow on Oct. 5, 2019.
The United States Air Force Thunderbirds fly in close formation at the Great Pacific Airshow in Huntington Beach on Oct. 5, 2019.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Huntington Beach resident Kevin Elliott said the typical planning cycle for an airshow is two to three years.

When the Great Pacific Airshow was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was a step back. But Elliott, who puts on the show with his production team at Code Four, promises the most packed lineup in the show’s history for 2021.

Tickets go on sale Thursday for the beach event, which has been renamed the Pacific Airshow. The three-day experience is scheduled in Huntington Beach from Oct. 1 to 3.

“I think we have a total of 14 Super Hornets in the airshow this year,” Elliott said. “We’re basically taking two years of pent-up performance and cramming into one year of amazing airshow. We’re kind of dubbing it a ‘super show.’”

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, celebrating their 75th anniversary, are again a headliner. They will be flying their new F/A-18 Super Hornets.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will also return, flying their Tutor Jets, as will the Air Force F-35 demo team. Elliott said that will be led by a female pilot, Maj. Kristin “Beo” Wolfe.

The U.S. Army will have its Golden Knights parachute team featured, while a new addition is the Marine Corps flying an MV-22 Osprey demo.

“We’ve never featured the Marine Corps,” Elliott said. “This year, we actually feature all four major military branches at the airshow, which is pretty cool. We’ve never had every branch of the military represented at one show before.”

Photographers take aim at the pattern created by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds at the Great Pacific Airshow in 2019.
Photographers take aim at the pattern created by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds at the Great Pacific Airshow in Huntington Beach in 2019.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Ticket prices range from $25 for general admission to $3,950 for cabanas for up to 15 people on Saturday and Sunday. RV camping also will be available, as will chalets for corporate hospitality.

Additionally, a new two-day concert is in the works for that weekend, after it was approved by the Huntington Beach City Council during its June 15 meeting. The performers and logistics have yet to be determined.

The return of the airshow is a big boon for Surf City’s economy. According to a 2019 economic impact study commissioned by Visit Huntington Beach and done by Destination Analysts, the airshow generates $68.1 million in direct spending and $105.8 million in total economic impact.

Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said ever since the beginning of the year, she’s been peppered with questions not only about the Fourth of July Parade, but also the Pacific Airshow.

“I know that our residents and visitors love this event,” Carr said. “It celebrates our veterans, it celebrates our military, it really highlights everything about Surf City being a welcoming, inclusive community.

“For me, it’s one of the highlights of the year. I’m really grateful that we have the opportunity to bring this back to Huntington Beach for 2021 … It’s become one of our signature events.”

New this year is an event app, which Elliott said can be used to publish lineups or schedules.

He said he and his team of organizers are excited to keep planning for the next three months, and promised that more announcements are on the way.

“The airshow is extremely well-received by the community, and very supported and loved by the community, because it brings the type of people to our city that we’re proud to represent as Huntington Beach and Orange County,” he said.

“We’ve never had a single arrest at the event, for example, even though we bring millions of people into the city. It’s a really positive thing.”

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