The Thunder Over New Hampshire air shows Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 11-12 are expected to draw tens of thousands of people to Pease to see the Thunderbirds among other performances and displays for aviation fans.
Here’s a guide to the key information you need to know to enjoy the shows:
What time do the shows get going?
The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day; the flying starts at noon and performances run through 4 p.m. There are many displays of aircraft and activities to enjoy before and during the flying performances. Also, keep your eyes to the Seacoast sky on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 9-10 as flight crews begin to arrive at Pease and do their practice runs. The Thunderbirds are expected to fly in Thursday and land about 1 p.m. Practice session times have not been announced, but it will most likely be midday Friday, nor have arrival times for the other aircraft in the shows.
What are the aircraft I will see there?
The headliners are the Thunderbirds, otherwise known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron. These are six F-16C Fighting Falcons that will do close-quarter maneuvers in a routine that has been updated for the 2021 air show season.
Other performers include aerobatic pilots Rob Holland and Mike Wiskus. The U.S. Special Ops Para Commandos aerial parachute demonstration team, a restored P-51 Mustang used during World War II and the Korean War, an Air Force F-35A demonstration team, and the Air Guard’s own KC-46As, a new era in-flight refueling tanker, will be part of the in-air demonstrations. Two F-35 Lightning II’s from the Vermont Air National Guard will also perform flying in formation.
From the archives:A look inside the new KC-46A
There will be more than 32 aircraft on the tarmac to see and tour. Static displays will include the KC-46A, a B-52 bomber of the type based at Pease when it was an Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) base, and a C-5 Super Galaxy cargo jet courtesy of Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots plane also will be on display.
There will also be various displays, including a hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) display, and children’s activities as well as many food and beverage vendors to enjoy.
Do I need a ticket? The air show is free, right?
Yes, the air show is free, but there’s a but.
There is no admission fee associated with the event (except if you choose to buy premium seating tickets), but to gain entrance to the designated parking areas at the airport you must have a parking pass. You must reserve the parking pass online in advance. There will be no parking passes available or for sale at the gates to the air show.
On Friday morning, air show organizers announced that officially there are no more parking passes available, free or paid.
Organizers also reminded the public not to walk to the air show gates or ride bikes, scooters or mopeds or use ride-sharing services for drop off at the base in a Friday press release.
Where do you park for the air show?
There was premium parking available for a fee at certain lots, but those premium passes too are gone.
There was also premium seating, but all levels of that option have been sold out for both days, except for a limited number of single seats in the Premium Box section as of earlier this week.
All parking pass and seating information can be found at thunderovernewhampshire.com.
When you arrive at Pease International Tradeport, directional signs will point you to your assigned parking lots.
On the Pease Tradeport, many of the large employee parking lots such as those at Sig Sauer, C&J Bus Lines, Lonza, Wentworth-Douglass and Northeast Rehabilitation are closed and law enforcement will be restricting access to them. They will only be available to patrons of the business and employees so parking is limited outside of the air show lots. Follow all directional signage and those directing traffic.
Many of the usual viewing sites where local residents stand or park along the runway are closed during the air show. The Great Bay Wildlife Refuge will be closed as well as parts of McIntyre Road and Arboretum Drive because of proximity to low-flying aircraft.
What should I bring to the air show?
First and foremost, make sure you’ve got your parking pass and/or your seating pass.
Additionally, here’s what the Air Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing, hosts of the show, recommend:
Sunscreen and sunnies or small umbrellas are permitted.
Wear comfortable shoes and clothes for walking.
Charge your phone and camera.
You can bring a folding chair.
Here’s what they say NOT to bring to the air show
No weapons of any type.
No electronic pads for taking pictures (use charged cell phones or cameras).
No smoking materials; including vaping devices and illegal drugs.
No wheels; no bicycles, scooters, skateboards, wheeled shoes or Segway-style transportation.
No fireworks, explosive materials or flammable liquids.
‘Don’t blink’:Pilot’s advice for viewing Thunder Over NH air show
No drones, propelled airborne items or laser pointers.
No alcoholic beverages, large backpacks or coolers.
No large umbrellas, tents or canopies.
No political activity; demonstrations or protests, or any activity considered detrimental to health, safety and welfare of persons on the installation.
What else do I need to know?
Here are a couple of resources you can use:
An FAQ from the organizers is found at thunderovernewhampshire.com/frequently-asked-questions.
Also, check out the 157th Air Refueling Wing’s Facebook page.
The 157th is using the event to introduce the public to its fleet of new KC-46A tankers, which includes giving a name to each of the planes. There will be a naming ceremony on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
Final KC-46A tankertanker delivered to 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease
Prior to the start of the show on Saturday, there will be a remembrance ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. The event will also serve as the city of Portsmouth’s Sept. 11th ceremony, in place of the city’s usual ceremony at the police station.
You can volunteer to help during the air show
The air show is looking for a few more volunteers. Volunteers will be provided lunch each day, an air show shirt, and parking for each day worked. Groups are encouraged to sign up. Learn more at: thunderovernewhampshire.com/volunteer.
Who benefits from money raised by the air show?
Proceeds from the air show will benefit the New Hampshire Military Assistance Foundation, a nonprofit organization created in 2014 to support the state’s military members and their families, particularly those of the National Guard.