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The Miramar Air Show is an annual air show held at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California. The three-day event is the largest military air show in the United States, with total annual attendance estimated at 700,000.[1] The show is held in October coinciding with Fleet Week activities in San Diego. The 2011 show was the 56th edition of the event, and celebrated the 100th anniversary of naval aviation. In 2007, the Miramar Air Show was voted the "World's Best Military Air Show" by the International Council of Air Shows, the first time the award was given to a Marine Corps air station since 1994.[2]

Miramar Air Show
US Navy 031017-N-6213R-031 The Marine Corps manned C-130 aircraft affectionately called Fat Albert from the Navy Blue Angels performs with the precision flight demonstration team at the Miramar Air Show at Marine Corps Air Stat.jpg
Blue Angels' "Fat Albert" C-130
Date(s)September 28–30, 2018
VenueMarine Corps Air Station Miramar
Location(s)San Diego, California
Coordinates32°52′04″N 117°08′30″W / 32.86778°N 117.14167°W / 32.86778; -117.14167Coordinates: 32°52′04″N 117°08′30″W / 32.86778°N 117.14167°W / 32.86778; -117.14167
CountryUnited States
Most recent2018
Attendancec. 700,000
ActivityMilitary and civilian aerobatic displays

The show includes a large selection of "static" (non-flying) displays representing aircraft from the United States Marine Corps, Navy, Army and Air Force, as well as civilian and historic military aircraft. Numerous commercial vendors, recruiting displays representing all of the United States armed forces, area law enforcement recruiters, civilian flight organizations and a business and franchise fair are also on site.

The show's daily performance schedule includes military and civilian aircraft, usually highlighted by the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, and is largely the same for all three days, with an extra "twilight show" on Saturday night only. Mornings are largely taken up by civilian performers, with military and more civilian performers in the afternoon. The Saturday "twilight" show includes military and civilian performers, a fireworks display and the detonation of the "Great Wall of Fire" pyrotechnic display.[3]

The air show for October 4–5, 2013 was canceled. Officials with the Marines confirmed the show was canceled as a result of the government shutdown.[4]

Static DisplaysEdit

AH-1Z Cobra helicopter gunship on static display.

The show features more than 100 military and civilian aircraft on static display.[5] The particular aircraft on hand changes each year depending on availability. Most aircraft can be toured by visitors, with active-duty service personnel on hand to answer questions. The displays are informally grouped into areas representing:

Aerial PerformersEdit

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform at the Miramar Air Show

Most years the performance schedule is highlighted by the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, who perform each day of the show. In 2007, the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, performed at the show (the two teams never perform together[6] ). These performances mark the end of each day's aerial performance schedule, except for the Saturday twilight show.

Separately, the Navy's F/A-18 Super Hornet and USMC AV-8B Harrier usually fly individual demonstrations. The MV-22 Osprey has also been featured since the 2011 show. In 2014, the Marine Corps F-35B Lightning flew for the first time at the show.

Though focused on Marine Corps and Navy assets, the show also regularly includes U.S. Air Force aircraft, including the F-22 Raptor and other fighter aircraft when available.

The U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team frequently performs, and often jumps during the twilight show. Since 1999, the show has often featured a Navy Legacy Flight,[7] where modern jets fly in formation with aircraft from previous eras in celebration of military veterans and naval aviation history.

The show also attracts a number of civilian performers from the U.S. air show circuit, flying prop planes, jet aircraft and gliders. Frequent performers include Sean Tucker's Oracle Challenger, the Red Bull Helicopter (a modified Messerschmitt-Bölkow Blohm BO-105 capable of aerobatic maneuvers), and the "Shockwave" Jet Truck, which also perform during the twilight show. There is also a selection of radio-controlled planes.

MAGTF DemoEdit

U.S. Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters land during the MAGTF demo at the MCAS Miramar Air Show

A major element of each year's show is the MAGTF Demo, a simulated assault by numerous Marine Corps units that demonstrates the air, ground and logistical elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force.[8] The demonstration is performed each day of the show and features an array of fixed-wing, helicopter and tilt-rotor aircraft[9]—F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier jets, CH-53E Super Stallion, AH-1 Cobra and UH-1Y Venom helicopters, the MV-22 Osprey, and KC-130 Hercules tankers—all in the air simultaneously. The Hornet and Harrier jets take turns flying simulated attack runs and demonstrate mid-air refueling with the KC-130. The MV-22 Ospreys also demonstrate refueling, then deliver Marine Corps ground troops to the airfield, while the Cobra gunships simulate attack and air cover roles. (The MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft joined the MAGTF demo in 2010 and replaced the CH-46 Sea Knight entirely in 2014 as the aircraft was phased out of the Marine Corps inventory.) The UH-1 delivers a team of Marine infantry via a fast-rope insertion, where they simulate calling in a naval artillery barrage, then retrieves them in a Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction maneuver. On the ground, Marine infantry simulate an advance on an enemy position, joined by M-1 Abrams tanks, Light Armored Vehicles and Humvees. Throughout the demonstration the attacks are punctuated by controlled pyrotechnic explosions, culminating in a "wall of fire" detonation. An air and ground review concludes each performance.


Prior to 1998, the Miramar installation was operated by the Navy as Naval Air Station Miramar, and the Navy produced the Miramar Air Show. The Marine Corps aircraft squadrons based in the region at that time, and since shortly after WWII, were located at Marine Corps Air Station Tustin and Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Orange County, where the Marines had produced their own annual air show since 1950. In 1993, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission announced that MCAS El Toro and MCAS Tustin would be closed and the Miramar facility transferred to the Marine Corps. The final Marine Corps air show at El Toro was held in 1997,[10] drawing two million visitors;[11] the final Navy-produced Miramar Air Show was held later the same year.[12] In 1998, the Marine Corps took over production of the show at Miramar. The 2013 edition of the show was cancelled the day before it was scheduled to begin as a result of federal budget battles.[13] The full three-day show resumed in 2014.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Miramar Air Show to bring Awesome Air Power to San Diego Sky" (PDF). USMC. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 15, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  2. ^ "Group awards top honors to Miramar for air show". San Diego Union Tribune. December 18, 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2007.
  3. ^ Crist, Pfc. Kevin (October 2, 2011). "56th MCAS Miramar Air Show salutes San Diego". Defense Video & Imgaery Distribution System.
  4. ^ "Miramar air show at Marine base canceled due to government shutdown". LA Times. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  5. ^ "Miramar Air Show: Static Displays". USMC. Archived from the original on January 3, 2012.
  6. ^ "FAQ: Why Don't the Navy Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds fly together?". United States Navy Blue Angels. Archived from the original on April 4, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  7. ^ "Navy Legacy Flight History". Navy Legacy Flight. Archived from the original on April 7, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
  8. ^ Posy, Steven H., Cpl. "MAGTF demo rocks 2010 air show". USMC. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  9. ^ Performers. "Miramar Air Show". USMC. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  10. ^ "Air Show to Go Out With a Sonic Boom". The Los Angeles Times. February 2, 1997. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  11. ^ Thomas, O'Hara (1999). Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. Arcadia Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 978-0738501864.
  12. ^ Godfrey, Joe. "The Last Fightertown Airshow". AVWeb.
  13. ^ "Gov't Shutdown Cancels San Diego's Miramar Air Show". NBC 7 San Diego. October 4, 2013.

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