July on Pensacola Beach and at 8:00am, it’s already hot, crowded and exciting! Parking is the biggest challenge you face besides the heat. Plenty of people have stayed the night and camped out on the beach, so even though finding a spot isn’t really an issue, you can’t see the ocean for the sea of tarps and tents that are already in place.
Here are a few survival pointers to get you through a long, hot summer day if you visit next year. Bring plenty of water, sun screen, shade and cash. The heat index was 110 degrees and you couldn’t catch a breeze for all of the people. The cash is to purchase food, and drinks if you haven’t brought enough goods with you to get through the day. Also handy if you find a place you can pay to park for the day.
There were sprinklers set up so you could get cooled off when needed. It was refreshing as attempting to get down to the ocean was nearly unthinkable.
The main show didn’t start till noon, but there was plenty of air activity beginning at 9:30am with a parade of gorgeous biplanes that were being escorted by helicopters. What a sight! They were giving rides to military veterans. I heard one of them was in his 90’s. I bet they all had amazing flights.
I even got to enjoy watching the Coast Guard and Life Flight helicopters come in to land in case they were needed.
First up for the main show was Redline Air Shows, a team of two amazing pilots in their Van’s RV-8s.
Kevin Coleman in his Extra 300SHP, one of the youngest aerobatic pilots performing will take your breath away with his amazing stunts.
Gary Ward in his gorgeous MX2 carbon fiber aerobatic plane provides a very impressive performance. At the age of 74, he gives me hope of being able to fly for some time, even if it’s not in the aerobatic arena.
No Blue Angels air show is complete without it’s opening act, Fat Albert, the C-130 Hercules that carries all the gear, staff and supplies to keep the Blues up and running for the shows. I think it has the best paint job of any C-130.
Enter stage right from the ocean, the look and sound of FA-18’s screaming toward you generates an enormous amount of excitement, and the crowd starts to rumble and point. “There they come!” and everybody looks. The anticipation mounts as they get closer, barely able to see them at first but quickly they emerge in formation over the sea of boats, and thunder rolls as they pass overhead.
Yes, it’s hot! Yes, it’s the beach! Yes, it’s fun! I loved every minute of it and I’d do it again. It was a great way to spend a day at the beach.