US Air Shows

US air shows started off as barnstorming, or should we say, skystorming. Daring pilots flew around the country during the 1920s to show off both their skill and the wonders of the flying machines. They’d perform stunts and tricks, then sell airplane rides. Barnstorming turned into flying circuses, which became air shows. The planes have grown more sophisticated since manned flight began, along with the daring of the pilots and the fascination for their flying machines.

The best stunt pilots belong to the US Navy’s Blue Angels, the US Air Force’s Thunderbirds, and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. Aviation aficionados come from everywhere to see the pilots, as well as the planes from past and modern eras.

Miramar Air Show

At the end of September, at a site where the 1980’s flim Top Gun was filmed, the Miramar Air Show puts shows just why US military pilots dominate the world’s airspace. The US Navy Blue Angels provide aerial acrobatics. Other aircraft from the modern US arsenal, such as the tank killing A-10 Thunderbolt, and the F15 Eagle, F16 Fighting Falcon, and F22 Raptor fighter jets, perform and are on display next to past warbirds like the P51 Mustang, the A1 Skyraider, F4 Phantom and TBM Avenger. Static displays of airplanes, and biplane aerobatics will keep your eye to the sky.

Reno Air Races

Pilots have been lining up to go head to head in Reno for 48 years. Six classes of aircraft manned by pilots with nerves of steel and a true “need for speed” fill the air above Reno’s Stead Field for five days in mid-September. Civilian, amateur and ex-military pilots race around courses from 3 to 8 miles in length and defined by pylons. Aerobatic pilots try to keep spectators in their seats between races, When you do move around, get a close look at, and even touch, some of the military’s top aeronautical technology on display on the airfield, which sit alongside some of the best examples of planes that define our aviation heritage.

Oshkosh EAA AirVenture Show

Every July, more than 10,000 private pilots warm up their engines to make their annual pilgrimage to Oshkosh, Wisconsin’s Whitman Regional Airport to celebrate the fact that flying planes, of any kind, from a basic Piper Cub to a stealthy F22 Raptor, is cool. You’ll talk flying, tell tall flying tales, admire other pilot’s skills and planes, watch movies about pilots, and get to see the latest in experimental aircraft. And, if you’re in the market for or have the desire to build your own plane, then this is your heaven.

Andrews Air Force Base Joint Services Air Show

If it flies and is included in the aviation arsenal of the US Navy, Air Force, Marines or Army it’ll take to the sky each May at the Air Force Base just east of Washington, DC that houses Air Force One. And when the active military aren’t aloft, the GEICO Skywriters, aerobatic performers, and heritage flights with planes from four decades of military flight history may leave you with a crick in your neck, and a sense of awe.

Sun `N¿ Fun International Fly-In

For 38-years, at the end of March, the skies above Lakeland, Florida have filled with planes from around the globe. From top Military and civilian teams and individual air show performers to exhibitors showcasing the latest planes on the market, if you like aviation, then Central Florida is the place to be each April. You’ll also find planes and pilots for ultralights and kit planes to float planes. And, there are plenty of people that will take you up for a flight in all kinds of aircraft.

Dayton Air Show

Each July, the Dayton Air show features demos and flybys that span all eras of flight, from a replica of the Wright Brother’s B Flyer to the vector-shaped USAF B-2 stealth bomber. Some of the coolest performers are the Tora Tora Tora team that reenacts the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 with fiery explosions and Japanese Zero’s. A Red Bull stunt helicopter and a Hall of Fame stunt airplane pilot named Sean Tucker (a regular on the airshow circuit), will leave you breathless with their physics-defying tricks. And for a real taste of the action, take a ride on Huey and Cobra helicopters.


Writer Ty Sawyer grew up in an Air Force family with F4’s and A-10’s flying over his house, and especially loves the thrill of the Reno Air Show. 

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