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Florida International Air Show returns to Punta Gorda Airport

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SOCOM PARA-COMMANDO Cris Fucci performed several times with his team at the 38th annual Florida International Air Show in November 2019. The U.S. Special Operations Command's parachute demonstration team is returning for the Florida International Air Show 2021 October 16-17 at Punta Gorda Airport.

PUNTA GORDA – The Florida International Air Show returns to Punta Gorda Airport October 16-17, with a lineup led by the F-16 Viper Demo Team and fly-bys from the C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft.

The F-16 demo team at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina is loud and fast – it can easily fly at speeds above Mach 2.

The C-17 Globemaster is awe-inspiring for its size.

“On the one hand there is the loud, large F-16 Viper Demo Team, on the other hand the C-17 Globemaster, which is simply huge and holds 500 soldiers,” said air show spokesman Steve Lineberry.

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The show was last held in 2019, which was technically the 38th annual show.

Construction work on the runway at Punta Gorda Airport pushed organizers to hold “Wings over Charlotte Harbor” as a replacement spectacle in October 2020, but this was ultimately undone by both funding problems and COVID-19 concerns.

Since then, Lineberry said, air shows have been back in force across the country and “the air show community is really back.”

The US Special Operations Command's Boeing C-17 Globemaster III takes off at the start of the daily airshow during the 47th annual Sun 'n Fun Aerospace Expo at Lakeland Linder Airport in Lakeland Fl. Wednesday, April 14th, 2021.

The Florida International Air Show was once named one of the “Top Ten Air Shows in the World” by USA Today and has raised more than $ 3 million for charities and nonprofits in the area.

The air show offers a bit of everything. World War II fans will appreciate the Commemorative Air Force’s FG-1D Corsair and SBD Dauntless.

Scott Farnsworth will bring the S-211 Marchetti Jet Qyon Aero Sports Team.

The perennial aerobatic favorite Patty Wagstaff returns, as does Clemens Kuhlig alias ChefPitts and his self-built biplane The PittS1S.

Jim Peitz, a native of Pierre, South Dakota, who also has a home in Cape Coral, will again be flying his modified Beechcraft Bonanza – with a beeched wing tail – in Punta Gorda.

Another fan favorite, the SOCOM Para-Commandos, the U.S. Special Operations Command’s parachute demonstration team, will also return in 2019.

Many details are still in the works. For example, the air show is working with the Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda to show a film and bring artists to a meet-and-greet as part of an Air Show Week celebration.

Pilot Patty Wagstaff, a National Avaiation Hall of Fame inductee, maneuvers between two masts in her 300's to grab a line during the 31st Florida International Air Show on Saturday, March 26, 2011.

How to get tickets to the Florida International Air Show

Air show organizers usually plan more than 40,000 people for the two-day event.

For ticket information, visit floridaairshow.com. Prices range from $ 5 for children ages 2 to 12 to $ 25 for one-day adult entry, with discounts of $ 5 for seniors 62 and older or veterans.

Photographers can get access to the front line tent with water for $ 75 per day.

Parking is another $ 10.

Special extended seating with shade tents for different group sizes as well as VIP parking spaces are also available.

“Airshows can sell two things: shade and how close you can get to the airline,” noted Lineberry.

Jim Peitz performs in his Beechcraft Bonanza during the daily air show at the 39th Annual Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In & Expo at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on Wednesday. 04/10/2013.

Wherever the audience sits, they will notice an improved tone to hear new airshow announcer Matt Jolley.

“Our speakers are now 21st century technology, bluetooth all over the airfield,” Lineberry said. “We are really excited about the new sound.”

Earle Kimel primarily covers South Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at earle.kimel@heraldtribune.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.

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