California Festivals


The Great Pacific Airshow 'Wows' in Huntington Beach

October 4-6, 2019
Huntington Beach Beaches - City Beach, Huntington State Beach & Bolsa Chica State Beach all offer visibility of the sky and aerial displays

By Craig MacDonald

Air Shows are always exciting & The Great Pacific Airshow, going on through Oct. 6, south of the Huntington Beach Pier, will leave you in awe.

Many of the jets not only create a thundering roar that may cause you to shake but they literally create a buzz with most who hear or see them. Itís a seldom-seen "Wow" that becomes the "talk of the town."

The stunts you see—like red, white & blue contrails appearing almost instantly in the sky, the dive-bombing rolls, the beyond belief speed is definitely something you donít get to see very often. Itís something you always remember.

Whether you bought tickets to watch this from the sand south of the HB Pier or youíre like others, elsewhere in town, who see it for free, it indeed catches your attention, causing you to rivet your eyes upward in hopes of catching at least part of the aerial flash dance thatís here one moment, gone the next.

Sometimes you hear the special jets coming, even though you canít see anything for a while. Sometimes you donít hear them coming. My son and I were pumping gas next to Central Park when, all of a sudden, a jet quietly appeared, flying so close above a nearby tree that I could see the pilotís face for less than a second before it was gone, streaking & thundering its way to the pier. Thank goodness my son saw the same thing or people would think I was crazy.

We were driving north on Pacific Coast Highway in Sunset Beach when one jet, taking off from Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, came into our sight and, I swear, directly in front of us, the pilot instantly flipped the plane upside down & continued out over the ocean.

Also, these special jets have a variety of colors—from bright to camouflage. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds have red throughout much of their underside; The RAF Red Arrows from the United Kingdom have red on both sides; the US Air Forceís Thunderbirds are red, white & blue; the US Air Force F-35 Lightning looks camouflaged.

Former Pilot Jon Kuhn of Sentry Pest Management can not only identify the types of show planes flying by his Huntington Beach home but when heís out working around town he can see them doing their magic high above. "I always look forward to the annual spectacle. How exciting & memorable. It adds much pizzazz to the city & helps fill up all the hotels & restaurants. Thereís really nothing quite like an air show and the Ďwowí it delivers."

John McCurnin, who always rides bikes to the air show with his friend, Lori, said he loves to use his smart phone to take photos and video of the amazing jets & their tricks. "I also love to watch the US Special Operations Para Commandos," said the longtime usher at Calvary Chapel of the Harbour in Sunset Beach. "There are so many great things to see in this show, itís mind-boggling."

Great Pacific Airshow Wows & Educates Millions

By Chris MacDonald

"When thunder roars, go indoors!" is great weather advice but most in Huntington Beach just did the opposite the past three days—they headed outdoors— to see the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and other planes do acrobatics at The Great Pacific Airshow, which ended yesterday.

Under blue skies, it was an amazing sight to behold and was enjoyed by millions all over the Southland. Vendors at Pier Plaza, next to the HB Pier, were giving away earplugs to diminish the loud noises. Even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was there providing valuable weather tips and safety information, including stickers with "When thunder roars, go indoors!"

Some of the net profits from the show were earmarked for The Aerospace Education Foundation of Huntington Beach, a non-profit which inspires youth to study aerospace, science and technology.

"We want them to pioneer the next generation of aviation," said Dan Page, the foundation's executive director and a retired Boeing manager.

"We offer scholarships, grants and mentoring programs," said the retired Army Lt. Col. "This is the third year of the fantastic show in HB and it's a reminder of the city's history in aeronautics."

Lt. Gen. George Muellner, USAF-retired, former President of Boeing's Air Force Systems, was helping inspire kids and adults at the Foundation's booth.

The former F-15, 16 and 17 jet pilot encouraged youth and teachers to learn more about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by contacting The Civil Air Patrol (Douglas, CyperPatriot (, Aviation Exploring (, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Rocketry ( and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots ( The Foundation's own website is

At the show, the Society of Experimental Pilots even had an F-22 Flight Simulator for people to try! The military had recruiting booths and there were many games with prizes.

5th & PCH (shopping, restaurants and hotel) sponsored a Stunt Pilots Question and Answer session for the public. Many of the Airshow pilots stayed at the Shorebreak Hotel. "Our merchants and hotel are really prospering from this event," said Marketing Consultant Pat Rogers, who had a booth with her assistant, Susan Welfringer.

Visit HB's Kevin Keller said the Airshow is "really taking off. More and more people are coming to see the vendors at Pier Plaza and watch the awesome spectacle in the sky. Everyone's so excited. There's literally something for everyone."

"It's a real thrill," said Gloria Eichler, a retired McDonnell Douglas employee, whose family came to town to watch the aerobatic magic. "From all over town, you can see the planes doing their stunts. Millions get to see the Ďwow'!"

For further information on this annual event, contact

Past coverage: By C. MacDonald

Thousands of people will enjoy the first air show in Huntington Beach in more than 24 years this Friday through Sunday   

"We hope the Breitling Huntington Beach Air Show will become the biggest in the United States," said Mike McCabe, Show Director. "There are 300 air shows in the United States but only five are of this caliber." The free air show can be seen above two miles of beach between HB Pier and Magnolia, with the best viewing near Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway from 12-4, Friday through Sunday. Friday is the practice day, with the official show taking place on the weekend.

The inaugural event features a series of unbelievable jet stunts by six members of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, flying F-16s; the France-based Breitling Civilian Aerobatic Jet Team, flying L-39 Albatros aircraft within 9 feet of each other at speeds of more than 435mph; an F-18 Super Hornet TAC Demonstration; the Lyon Air Museum's C-47 Dakota; a U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue Operation and so much more. It will have your head swimming!

Net proceeds from VIP Premium Viewing Areas, food, merchandise and other vendor sales support the new Aerospace Education Foundation of Huntington Beach, a non-profit that encourages education and careers in aerospace and aviation fields. "It's our goal to break down the barriers of entry to these fields and help support the next generation of pioneers," said Lt. Col. Dan Page, U.S. Army-Retired, executive director of the foundation. "We plan to offer scholarships and mentoring programs."

Jacques Bothelin, leader of the dazzling Breitling Jet Team, said they have flown in 38 countries and it's interesting to observe changes over the years. "I flew in China in 2000 and again in 2012. It was amazing to see how westernized the people became—speaking English, becoming more friendly, more open and interested in aerospace."

KTLA-TV Reporter Mark Mester flew in a Breitling Jet in a show preview and called it "a great spectacle. It's a thrill I'll never forget." Another lucky passenger, Ilona Thompson, who got the ride of her life in another jet, said she couldn't believe "how gentle the flight was—it was like someone was rocking me gently. There was no turbulence."

Show performers include National Aerobatic Champion Michael Goulian, Jack Link's Screamin' Sasquatch, legendary aerobatic performers Bill Stein and David Martin, Red Bull World Champion Kirby Chambliss and the Lucas Oil Skydivers, who literally become individual flying machines, using the wind to maneuver.

"October is the perfect month for this event," said Julie Toledo, City of Huntington Beach Community Relations Officer. "The location is ideal, the weather's great and it's a win-win-win for the public, businesses and the entire community. We're so excited to have this show in our city."

The event is sponsored by Breitling, a specialist of technical watches, as well as Boeing, Visit Huntington Beach, Suzuki, FedEx, The Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, Lyon Air Museum, Ford Dealers Association, Red Bull, Pacifico and others.

Events are not guaranteed. It is your responsibility to confirm before going.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info