Thunderbirds performing one of their stunts as part of an air show in an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Every other year, thousands of people flock to MacDill Air Force Base (MacDill AFB) for its biennial air show, Tampa Bay AirFest. On Easter weekend, Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30, an air show of epic proportions will be coming back to MacDill AFB, located in South Tampa. General admission is free to the public.

Each day is full of exciting performances and displays featuring the U.S. Air Force’s own Thunderbirds, U.S. Special Operation Command’s (SOCOM) Para-Commandos, C-17 Demo Team, KC-135 Stratotanker, Warbird Thunder Airshows, A-10 Demo Team and F-18 Demo Team, in addition to five to six civilian pilots.

The Air Force Thunderbirds’ website states, “The Thunderbirds perform for people all around the world to display the pride, precision and professionalism the U.S. Air Force represents. In addition to showcasing the elite skills all pilots must possess, the Thunderbirds demonstrate the incredible capabilities of the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter jet, the F-16 Fighting Falcon.”

SOCOM’s Para-Commandos are the foremost parachute demonstration team and will be performing their advanced tactical maneuvers for the crowd.

According to the AirFest website, “The Para-Commandos tailor each performance to the individual venue and can perform from as low as 2,000 feet above ground level to as high as 13,500 feet above ground level. Depending on the venue and time of day, the Para-Commandos may jump flags, smoke, sparklers or a combination of each into the event.”

There will be displays and tours of all kinds of aircraft, including C17s, fighter jets (A-10s, F-16, F-22, F-35s, etc.), Black Hawk helicopters, Chinook helicopters and so on. Spectators can even talk to the pilots and crew and take pictures in the pilot’s seat.

Make sure to check out the booster tables for food and souvenirs. The proceeds help fund local morale events for service members.

MacDill Air Force Base is located at 6901 S. Dale Mabry Hwy. in Tampa. The entrance for the public can be found at the Dale Mabry, MacDill Avenue and Tanker Way gates. Department of Defense ID cardholders should enter through the Bayshore Gate only. Gates open at 8 a.m.

MacDill AFB encourages guests to bring ear protection, sunglasses and chairs to sit in, as there will be no seats out for the public.

More information about the AirFest can be found at or by calling 813-725-1795.

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Ashley Abene
Ashley Abene has written for the Osprey Observer since 2023. She has a master’s degree in writing and literature and a bachelor’s degree in professional writing from the University of South Florida. She has taught college-level writing and literature at USF and Southeastern University for over nine years. She’s a blogger at Peace Filled Family and enjoys writing children’s books. She’s also a mom to three kids, and her husband has been serving in the military for over 20 years.