July 25, 2021

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OC Air Show brings the noise Saturday — and the crowds

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The OC Air Show flew over Ocean City on Saturday, with some planes passing a packed beach and Boardwalk at just below the speed of sound. 

“They can’t go that fast ‘cause they’d bust out all the hotel windows,” said air show spokesman Chris Dirato. 

Dirato estimated the 14th annual air show attracted tens of thousands of people — more than in 2019. Last year’s show was scaled back due to COVID-19. 

“People are starved for entertainment,” he said.

RELATED: See who will perform in the OC Air Show 2021. Get to know the planes, pilots

More: See the Ocean City air show schedule for 2021

And entertainment they received. “Oohs” and “aahs” were audible as the pilots twisted and turned, flipped and dove and performed group maneuvers. 

The OC Air Show features a range of airplanes and helicopters that are fast, flashy or both. The U.S. Coast Guard demonstrated a basket rescue and the talented Mike Wiskus’ tiny red plane sped through the air as if it were on a rollercoaster.

Larger planes like the C-17 Globemaster III, the L-39 Cold War-era jet and the A-10 Thunderbolt II wowed the crowds with speed, sound and dexterity.

The GEICO Skytypers’ six SNJ-2 World War II-era planes performed maneuvers at low altitudes, whizzing just above boats gathered near shore.

Bryan Henry and Beth Ann Guthridge came from Winchester, Virginia, to watch the show from atop the Quality Inn at 16th Street and the Boardwalk, in the VIP Skybox. Henry has a son in the Air Force and Guthridge, his fiancée, purchased the VIP tickets as a Father’s Day gift. 

“She did good,” Henry said, grinning. 

Also in the VIP Skybox was Bill Rufenacht of Selbyville, Delaware

“I’ve had a lot of people in my life in the military and they’re not here anymore,” he said. “So here I am.” 

More: Jonathan Bauer, Ocean City hero who saved toddler, will get Thunderbird ride of lifetime

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Down on the beach, in the ticketed “drop zone” area, 13-year-old John Blank of the Annapolis area was sitting with his dad, who is former military. 

“I’m here because I really like aviation and I want to be a pilot when I grow up,” he said. 

Calvin Jefferson of Cockeysville, Maryland, was sitting on the Boardwalk with friends. The 81-year-old’s wife died last year, and June 19 marked their 61st wedding anniversary. 

“We always enjoyed this,” he said.  

Nearby, the Pritchard sisters of Northeast, Maryland, 21-year-old Madison and 16-year-old Alice, were sitting atop the sea wall along the Boardwalk.  

“It’s just cool seeing how different all the planes are,” Madison said.  

While the day started out overcast and threatened rain, the sky had cleared considerably for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds’ show-stopping finale. The six F-16 Fighting Falcons flew precise, difficult maneuvers at high speeds as the audience stood and clapped.

Back up in the VIP Skybox, Henry and Guthridge were giddy with excitement. 

“It was absolutely amazing,” Guthridge said. 

If you missed Saturday’s performance, you can still catch it Sunday. Check out our guide for more information.

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