Some families look forward to October because of Halloween, but in San Diego, this month also marks the return of the super-loud, super-mesmerizing MCAS Miramar Air Show.
Thanks to its daredevil stunts, hands-on exhibits and free admission, the three-day air show has long been a local favorite, drawing more than 700,000 people over three days.
Of course, navigating to and around the expansive Marine base can be confusing if you don’t know what to expect. So here’s a guide to what you need to know, from parking to when to catch the Blue Angels and everything in between:
• There are three ways to get on the base. The North and West gates are accessible from the Miramar Road/La Jolla Village Drive exit. You’ll find the East/Main gate off Interstate 15’s Miramar Way and Kearny Villa Road exits. Any car that goes on base must have a current driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance.
• Parking is free, but the lots fill up, so arrive early — like, before 8 a.m. early. You’ll find plenty of handicapped spots close to the entrance; just follow the signs. There will also be shuttles to take you to the main entrance. Remember the color of the parking lot you’re in to avoid wandering around for hours.
• If the lots are full, there is a good amount of street parking around the base. Just make sure to bring good walking shoes, water and sunscreen. There will also be a bicycle parking area on base.
• All three days, a section of Kearny Villa Road — from Miramar Road to Harris Plant Road — will be closed to traffic between noon and 4 p.m., or until the Blue Angels performance is over.
The Blue Angels with Fat Albert: When most people think of the air show, they think of these Navy aircraft that are more precise than a Rockettes lineup. The blue-and-gold planes perform maneuvers like loops and barrel rolls, at times with the Marine Corps C-130 “Fat Albert” by their side. Takes off: 3 p.m. daily.
AV-8B Harrier: Have you ever seen an airplane take off without ramping up for speed? The Marine Corps’ vertical-takeoff-and-landing attack jet has no use for runways, making it a crowd favorite. Takes off: 2:45 p.m. daily and 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Marine Air-Ground Task Force Demo: This is the Marines’ house, and they show off their skills during this heart-pounding demonstration. Expect paratroopers, platoons of riflemen, aerial refueling and explosions. Takes off: 12:30 p.m. daily.
U.S. Army Golden Knights: These parachuting soldiers do things like pass a baton at 120 mph, fly the American flag at 12,000 feet and land dead-center on a target. Takes off: 12:15 p.m. daily and 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Sean Tucker “Oracle Challenger”: The iconic red biplane has been a regular at air shows since the 1970s, and its pilot, Tucker, was named one of the 25 “Living Legends of Flight” by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Takes off: 1:15 p.m. daily, 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Great Wall of Fire: Just as the name implies, this 2,500-foot wall is made by the Marines’ special explosives team and made the Guinness Book of World Records in 2000 for “longest wall of fire.” Takes off: 8:45 p.m. Saturday.
Times and performers are schedule to change; for the complete lineup, go to miramarairshow.com
Photo by K.C. Alfred with U-T San Diego