Air Shows are a great American tradition for families. They provide history, education and thrills for adults and children. Yet, if not planned for properly, a trip to an air show, no matter how big or small, can still be an exercise in frustration and even danger. Preparation is the key.
Veterans of the air show circuit, whether organizers or participants, offer some informative insights in how to not only survive an air show, but to have an enjoyable family event remembered for years. What people have learned over the years is sometimes obvious, sometimes not.
The basics. Most air shows take place in the summer. That means sun and heat. Make sure everyone is covered with proper sunscreen. If staying awhile, it’s recommended to re-apply more. Bring hats or umbrellas. If you can, bring water. Some air shows prohibit outside food and beverages. Keep in mind, bottled water may fit in purses, or bag chairs, if those are permitted. Sometimes water will be made available for free.
Speaking of chairs, find out what kind are permitted. Many shows prohibit old-style lawn chairs, but most are ok with bag chairs. The latter are good to help people stay comfortable, and the bag itself can be used to bring in water, or small amounts of snacks.
The larger the air show, the more you will want to wear comfortable shoes. Sandals may be nice for the weather, but if you have to do a lot of walking, you’ll soon regret them.
Other than bag chairs, keep the amount “stuff” you bring. Most air shows will help in this area because most will prohibit such items like coolers, bikes, skate boards or the afore-mentioned lawn chairs.
Bring money! There will be all sorts of food, t-shirts and trinkets to buy at high prices. The larger air shows may take charge cards or have ATM, but if not, you’ll want some ready cash, but keep your purses and wallets secure. Crowds are great places for pickpockets.
Try to get to the air show early to check out your surroundings and find a spot that’s close to the batherooms/porta-potties. Choose a spot to meet in case someone gets lost. Find out where the lost child tent is located. When finding a place to set up your viewing spot keep in mind that if you are close to the crowd line, you will have little better view of the show, but rows and rows of people right behind you.
After the last event at an air show, most people will stream to the exits. Resist the urge to flee early or you’ll simply get frustrated in the car, while idling in line. If there are other attractions to see, check them out. You paid to attend, so make use of your time.
Some air shows have websites with a wealth of information on them. Look it over carefully. Some allow you to purchase advance tickets with credit/debit cards and a slightly reduced rate. The real value of this, though, is getting into the air show quicker.
Larger air shows may have VIP chalets. The extra cost may be worth it for free food, chairs, beverages and a safe, enclosed area, usually at center line.
Most of all, have fun!