Florida International Air Show one step closer to soaring over Charlotte Harbor

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Published: Updated:
Photo via the Florida International Air Show
Photo via the Florida International Air Show

Many people come to Bayshore Live Oak Park in Charlotte Harbor or Gilchrist Park in Punta Gorda to take in the view of the water, but come late October, the main attraction here will be hundreds of feet in the sky.

A Florida tradition is one step closer to soaring over Charlotte Harbor, giving the Florida International Air Show a new home for 2020 and 2021.

“They will do rolls and loops, they will come down and cut flags,” said Experimental Aircraft Pilot Stan Smith.

Families can watch planes glide, flip and spin from Fishermen’s Village, Gilchrist Park, the Charlotte Harbor shoreline or from the harbor itself.

“You add the water aspect, the boating community can enjoy the airshow from their boats,” said air show chairman, Dana Carr.

Map of the best spots to watch the airshow. (Courtesy: Florida International Air Show)

It’s the first time in nearly four decades fans won’t be able to watch the airshow from the Punta Gorda Airport due to multiple construction projects.

“Because of this growth, we can’t move on with having a typical airshow at PGD,” Carr said.

The Charlotte County Airport Authority is currently expanding the airport’s runway, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. They are also planning the construction of a new general aviation center and ramp, as well as taxiway and taxilane extensions where the air show has taken place over the last several years.

“These projects have been in the pipeline for several years and are absolutely necessary for future operations and sustainable growth,” said PGD’s Marketing & Communications Manager Kaley Miller. “While the public Air Show won’t be scheduled at PGD for the next couple years, the Airport Authority will likely continue to provide in-kind support and a base for visiting aircraft.”

Right now organizers can’t say for sure when the air show will return to PGD, but say they’ll evaluate the construction schedule again next year.

Fans will be able to watch the show for free from the waterfront but since organizers are limiting ticket sales to reserved seating, they’ll have to rely on sponsors to soar these stunt planes.

“I think the excitement is the new venue, the location, the fact that it’s going to be a free air show,” Carr said, bringing fans’ excitement to new heights as everyone prepares for “Wings of Charlotte Harbor.”

“You see children with their mouth open, pointing up at the airplanes,” Smith said. “Plan on coming out to see a phenomenal show.”

So what are the next steps to make this a reality? Punta Gorda approved the event’s permit application, but it’s up to organizers to work out the details with the police and fire departments. They’re still working out everything for the Charlotte County side of the harbor.

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