High Times

July 17, 2014
Blue Angels

At the 2014 Cleveland National Air Show - U.S. Navy Blue Angels Return to Cleveland

U.S. Navy Blue Angels Return to Cleveland

Zooming combat jets zip along the Lake Erie coastline, while the roar of the engines rattles the skyskrapers downtown. It's these kinds of sounds that mean one thing: The Cleveland National Air Show is back! After a one-year hiatus, the event is returning to Burke Lakefront Airport in downtown Cleveland Aug. 30 - Sept. 1.

The Cleveland National Air Show is particularly cool because of it oh-so-unique location at Burke Lakefront Airport. On one side, you've got the wide expanse of Lake Erie. On the other side, you're fronting a gorgeous downtown skyline. It's setting makes it pretty wild and favorite among those who travel the national air show circuit.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels

Cleveland knows a thing or two about being a "comeback" kind of town. And, the return of the National Air Show lives up to the excitement by rolling out the red carpet - or shall we say blue carpet - with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

Cleveland is one of only 35 locations that will host the "Blues" in 2014. And, if you've never seen this stunning headline act in person, you've got to check it out.

The highly trained Navy pilots - known for flying in their four-plane diamond-shaped pattern - perform jaw-dropping choreographed refinement of skills, aerobatic maneuvers that will stop you dead in your tracks and fast-paced, heat-pounding pinnacle precision of flying.

It's insanely intense and worth every second. Don't believe us? Get a little sneak preview when the Blues practice their maneuvers in and around downtown Cleveland Aug. 28 - 29.

U.S. Army Golden Knights

Another high-intensity showstopper during this year's Air Show includes performances by the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team. Instead of using planes, the Army team uses their bodies to create formations as they plummet toward the earth in parachutes.

Ever wondered what happens when the first parachute fails to open? They'll demonstrate that for you, as well. If you guessed your heart would be in your throat the whole time, you'd be right.

"Fire, Fire, Heh, Heh, Cool"

And, for those pyromaniacs among us - yeah we know you're out there - the Cleveland National Air Show has several fixations for you, too.

The Shockwave Jet Truck is a triple jet-engine semi truck that reaches tops speeds of 376 miles per hour. It screams down the runway while racing airplanes above.

"When the crowd hears the triple jet engines of Shockwave Jet Truck start up, they run toward the fence to see it race down the runway at hundreds of miles per hour -it even needs its own parachute to stop the truck so it doesn't end up in Lake Erie," Ann Gynn, Cleveland National Air Show spokeswoman, said.

Fans go absolutely bananas over this act as the Shockwave Jet Truck shoots giant flames out of its exhaust. You don't know whether to be amazed or totally freaked out.

If you enjoy a side of pyrotechnics with your fire, you're in luck. Tinstix of Dynamite comes to Cleveland for the first time. In a nutshell, the act combines aerobatic plane formations amid huge fireballs and explosions on the ground. Even spectators can physically feel the heat of the fire.

And, for even more fire action, check out the Mad Bomber. As the name so aptly suggests, you'll get a crazy mix of aerodynamic awesomeness combined with a huge "wall of fire." Now, that's what we call "mad."


For a more high-tech, wow-is-that-what-I-think-it-is display, be sure to check out the British Sea Harrier demonstration where a privately owned plane will fly like both a helicopter or a plane. Weird, huh?

Or, be there as a husband-wife team with pilot Melissa Pemberton flying her aerobatic plane as her husband, Rex Pemberton, takes to the sky in his wingsuit. Yes, a real wingsuit. And, no, this isn't some spy movie with cool gadgets. This is the real deal.

On the ground, you can find static displays where you can tour in person a huge array of military, vintage and commercial planes along with helicopters, tanks and simulators. Sit in the cockpit to pretend you're a pilot (we really only recommend he "pretend" part if you're a kid, because...seriously?). Or, just go ahead and meet the real pilots stationed around the exhibits.

Honoring the Past

But the event isn't all about present-day fire, flames and technology. According to Gynn, "We also honor the military of the past with a World War II B-25 and TBM

Cleveland is one of the oldest air shows in the country. In fact, the modern air show started in 1964 at Burke Lakefront Airport and is rooted in Cleveland's earlier aviation history, which included hosting the National Air Races from 1929-1949.

Tips on Visiting

With up to 100,000 people expected to attend the Labor Day Weekend air show, it's best to prep your plan of action in advance.

Find parking and directions to Burke Lakefront Airport, which is located in downtown Cleveland right near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Great Lakes Science Center and Cleveland Browns NFL's First Energy Stadium.

The best way to get there? The RTA. Check out Park-N-Ride options, so that you can park for free, hop on the rapid train and take a short walk to the festivities.

Or, book your closeby accommodations now. Hotels like the DoubleTree by Hilton Cleveland Downtown-Lakeside, Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center and the Westin Cleveland Downtown are all located within a short walk to Burke Lakefront Airport.

Event organizers recommend you bring your own lawn chairs or blankets to stake out a great spot to watch the show (or you can purchase a reserved box seat).

And, remember, there's a lot more to do than watch the planes - the airfield has children's activities, food, interactive attractions, aircraft that can be climbed upon, autograph center and much more.

For more information and an upcoming schedule of activities, visit the Cleveland National Air Show.

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