VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Navy said Tuesday that a beloved Hampton Roads tradition would make a comeback after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show returns in September 2022, with the Blue Angels, the elite flight demonstration squadron, headlining.
The last time there was a live, in-person show was in 2019 before the pandemic began. The Navy tried to do a virtual show in 2020. It canceled the show altogether in 2021.
More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the free show during its two-day run of September 17 and 18. It will be an opportunity to show off Navy teamwork and pride.
"To be able to bring our guests that are typically off-base and don't get to see that kind of engagement on a daily basis and put the 'who' into it I think is the thee big story right there," said Captain Bob Holmes, NAS Oceana's commanding officer. "To be able to go ahead and show people who exactly is flying the airplanes, who exactly is maintaining the airplanes."
The Blue Angels appearance will be its first at the naval air station since 2018.
"To be able to see them perform with such tight maneuvers and the precision that they're known for would spark an interest and an excitement I would think for anybody," said Holmes. "I still get goosebumps watching a show like that."
In 1953, NAS Oceana hosted its first-ever Open House Air Show event. And with a few exceptions (9/11, hurricanes, COVID-19), it has been held almost every year since.
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer is enthused about the air show's return and about its theme: "Back to the Beach."
He said, "NAS Oceana is a jewel and a point of pride in Virginia Beach that we want to share with everybody."
As of Tuesday, the full lineup of performers still was being developed.