The casinos bring in stars to perform every week, but this weekend U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilots will give the city a summer beach spectacular like Biloxi’s never experienced — and it’s free.
Blues Over Biloxi airshow will take place primarily over the water, with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilots flying at speeds of up to 700 mph along the beach, over the Mississippi Sound.
Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich saw the Blue Angels fly down the beach at their homeport of nearby Pensacola Beach, Florida, and said he wanted them to bring that honor, skill and technology to Biloxi.
“I’m truly excited,” Gilich said Thursday as the city and its eight casinos prepare for a full house.
‘We’re expecting maybe 100,000 people,” he said. Traffic to the beach will be gridlocked, Gilich said, but Biloxi has a traffic plan and embedded emergency personnel at last week’s Blue Angel performance at Pensacola to get an idea of what to expect.
Police Chief John Miller advises people heading to the beach for the show to arrive early in the morning.
Once people reach the beach, Gilich said, they will be in for a spectacular performance as the Blue Angels “light those afterburners and blow by you.”
The Great Lawn at Harrah’s Gulf Coast on Beach Boulevard is airshow central, and the gates open at 9 a.m. both days. The airshow action starts at 1 p.m., with a full schedule of performances and military airplane fly-bys.
The Blue Angels tentatively will perform beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and at 2:10 p.m. Sunday.
The six Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornets will fly east and west over the water, within the aerobatic box that extends over much of Deer Island, just off the coast of East Biloxi. They will transition to other formations to the north, behind the crowds gathered on The Great Lawn and along Biloxi’s beaches, primarily from the Biloxi Lighthouse to the Biloxi Bay Bridge.
The best views
To be anywhere other than near the beach Saturday or Sunday will mean missing the most stunning action.
Beachfront hotels and casinos in East Biloxi, where guests will be able to look out their windows and see the Blue Angels fly past, report being mostly booked Friday through Sunday.
In addition to The Great Lawn, here are some of the best places to watch the Blue Angels:
▪ The Blind Tiger on the west end of The Great Lawn has great views from the decks and the waterfront, and will host an after-party immediately following the Blue Angels.
▪ Tents and large beach umbrellas won’t be permitted at The Great Lawn, but the usual rules of the beach in force at the other beaches in Biloxi will allow spectators to set up shade while they wait for the show.
▪ Watch the show aboard a Biloxi Schooner, which will sail both days from 2-4:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for ages 3-12. Tickets are available by calling 228-435-6320. Or watch the show from the Schooner Pier Complex at 367 Beach Blvd., just west of The Great Lawn for $10.
▪ Boat owners will be allowed to anchor in areas of the Mississippi Sound. The U.S. Coast Guard will mark areas that are restricted for safety.
▪ At Hard Rock Casino Biloxi, see the show without ever leaving the pool for hotel guests. Those paying the pool entry fee can also watch from the pool deck and the elevated space on the west side of the casino, outside the VIP lounge. Parking will be restricted to the casino’s players card members, registered hotel guests and concert ticket holders, who can watch from the parking garage.
▪ Hotel guests at Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi will have excellent views of the show from their rooms, some with balconies. Hotel guests and Golden Nugget loyalty card members will park for free at the parking garage, while the fee for others is $20. Because of safety issues, the parking garage won’t be open for spectators.
▪ Margaritaville Resort Biloxi will have areas where hotel and VIP guests can watch the show, but the parking garage will be closed to the public.
▪ The parking garage at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino will be open only to hotel guests, the casino’s loyalty card members and those with tickets to the show Circovia. Spectators will be allowed to watch from the parking garage.
▪ One of the prime spots could be from the walking area of the Biloxi Bay Bridge.
▪ The beach in Ocean Springs across the bay won’t have as good a view as in Biloxi, but may have less traffic issues.
Parking, lavs & getting around
Harrah’s Gulf Coast will have the most convenient parking, right across the street from The Great Lawn. Total Rewards card holders and hotel guests will be able to park for free, and parking for others in the east garage is $20 while spaces last. Parking in a gravel lot is $40 for RVs and trucks.
Several businesses and private property owners in East Biloxi will have parking spaces for sale, generally going for $20 a space. Other areas will be available without charge, but the public is asked to respect private property.
Some handicapped parking will be available in the lot between The Great Lawn and Margaritaville Biloxi.
Traffic lights in that area of Beach Boulevard (U.S. 90) will be flashing and police officers will be stationed at every intersection from Porter Avenue at the Biloxi Lighthouse to Myrtle Street near The Great Lawn. Pedestrians are asked to cross only at the intersections for safety.
Lavatories will be set up at The Great Lawn, and the city will provide additional portable restrooms near public parking areas.
More to come
“We want crowds,” said Biloxi Council president Kenny Glavan. The city has seen its share of challenges with Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf oil spill and the recession, he said, and this is a chance to bring people to town to celebrate the good times.
“It’s going to be a wonderful event,” he said.
And for those who can’t make the Blue Angels show, he said the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will be flying over Biloxi in an April 2019 airshow.
About the Blue Angels
- An estimated 11 million spectators view the Blue Angels during air shows each year.
- The average age of a Blue Angels pilot is 33. They generally serve 2-3 years.
- The closest the diamonds will fly to each other is 18 inches during the Diamond 360 maneuver.
- They Boeing F/A-18 Hornets cost about $21 million each and are painted blue and gold, the official colors of the U.S. Navy.
- The smoke from the planes poses no environmental hazard. It provides a traceable path for spectators to follow and enhances safety so the pilots can see each other during maneuvers.
- Sonic booms are not permitted by the Blue Angels during the air shows. Spectators may mistake the sounds of engines at a high-power setting approaching the speed of sound for a sonic boom.
— U.S. Navy Blue Angels