Harrison County

Everything you need to know about Thunderbirds air show in Biloxi: Traffic, parking, more

It’s being billed as Thunder Over the Sound and those who witness it can count on the ground shaking as six U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds roar down the beach and overhead this weekend.

Keesler Air Force Base and the City of Biloxi are teaming up with the Thunderbirds for this one-of-a-kind, two-day long celebration of flight.

The public is invited in to the base Saturday and Sunday morning to admire the military planes on the tarmac, the Smoke and Thunder Jet Truck and the performances in the sky. Kids can stretch their minds at the science and technology center with its interactive exhibits and then work off some energy with bouncy castles and obstacle courses. Gates open at 7:30 a.m. and events start at around 8:30 a.m.

The air show then moves to the beach at 1 p.m. for an afternoon of stunt flying, parachute jumping and daring maneuvers. The Thunderbirds take to the sky in the grand finale about 3:30 each day.

The shows are free and nearly identical both days, with the exception of a B-2 Stealth bomber and a B-52 flyby only on Saturday.

More than 100,000 people are expected to take part in the show. Shuttle buses will run continuously to transport the crowd from five parking areas across the Biloxi peninsula to the base, the beach and back to their vehicles.

Here’s what you need to know about Thunder Over the Sound:

The schedule

Performing over Keesler starting at 8:30 a.m. and on the beach starting at 1 p.m.

  • Team Aeroshell – 4x AT-6D
  • Army Special Ops – Black Daggers
  • Alabama Boys
  • Twin Tigers – 2x Yak-55s
  • Jeremy Holt – Pegasus Bi-Plane
  • Wild Blue Rodeo – RV-8
  • Scott Francis – MXS
  • B-25 “Killer Bee”
  • C-17 Globemaster III (Keesler only)
  • P-51 Quick Silver Mustang
  • OV-1 Mohawk
  • Trojan Thunder – 6x T-28A
  • T-33 — AceMaker Airshows (beach only)
  • F-4U Corsair — Dixie CAF (beach only)
  • MIG-17 — Fighter Jets Inc. (beach only)

Saturday only — Beach flyovers of B-2 Stealth Bomber and B-52 Stratofortress at beach

At Keesler only — Smoke and Thunder Jet Truck, Static displays and STEM activities

Thunderbirds viewing

The final performances both days will be the Thunderbirds, beginning about 3:30 p.m. People will be able to see them from the beaches all along Biloxi, with the best viewing spots near White Avenue, down from Keesler, and for photo ops near the Biloxi Lighthouse. The six F-16 Fighting Falcons fly at 500-600 miles per hour. They fly as close as 18 inches apart during their air demonstrations.

Tickets

The events are free and no tickets are needed. Box seating in the shade with restrooms, catered food and a cash bar is available on the base for $55 and on the beach for $75.

Traffic and parking

The orange traffic cones will be out on parts of U.S. 90 during the airshow and the center lanes in each direction will be used for emergency vehicles and shuttle buses.

Parking at Keesler AF Base is open only to Department of Defense ID card holders, who must enter through the Meadows or Pass Road Gate, or handicapped visitors, who must use the Meadows Road Gate. Handicapped visitors have a valid ID, car insurance, current vehicle registration and a handicapped license plate or placard.

All other visitors must park off base and use the airshow shuttle buses that will run in continuous loops all day. Free shuttle buses will start running at 8:30 a.m. from five parking locations with color-coded routes for shuttle buses that run continuously through the day:

From I-110 at Bayview Avenue exit:

  • IP Casino (purple) gravel parking lot to the left
  • Harrison Count (blue) lot to the right
  • Oak Park (red) to the right

From the east and Ocean Springs:

  • Point Cadet (yellow) off Fifth Street at the former Margaritaville Casino lot

From the west and Gulfport:

  • Coast Coliseum (green). A $5 parking fee will be charged

Food and vendors

Food trucks and portable bathrooms will be set up at the base and at parking bays along the beach.

Keesler will provide a water buffalo for free refills of water bottles. Formula and snacks are allowed but people should purchase other beverages and lunch from the food truck. Beer will be sold.

What to bring and leave home

Bags will be searched and metal detectors will be in use at Keesler and any weapons or other prohibited items will be confiscated.

Allowed: Sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, folding chairs, water, strollers or wagons, hearing protection for kids, small purses, diaper bags, phones, cameras

Not allowed:

  • pets
  • glass
  • weapons
  • skateboards
  • pop up tents
  • umbrellas
  • drones
  • kites
  • parasailing
  • ATVs
  • golf carts

Information

Air show information: 228-376-8158 or 228-376-8412 or keeslerbiloxiairshow.com
Traffic information: Text BILOXI to 888777 or biloxi.ms.us/b-alert/

Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.
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