Big military air show returns this weekend to Joint Base Andrews in Md.

If you like high-flying, daring aerial displays, Joint Base Andrews in Maryland is holding its annual Air & Space Expo this weekend for the first time since 2019.

This year’s event celebrates the 75th anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Air Force as its own branch of the military.

The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16 through Sunday, Sept. 18 However, the first day is open only to Defense Department employees and those who have Common Access Cards. Events on Saturday and Sunday are free and open to the public.

No tickets are required for the public days, but you can purchase VIP tables and premium box seats.

Visitors will see aerial exhibitions by the U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squad’s famous “Thunderbirds,” the U.S. Army Parachute Team, known as the “Golden Knights” and the U.S. Air Force Academy’s “Wings of Blue” parachute team, among other displays.

Ground displays include a number of military aircraft, including the F-16, B-52 and B-1.

WTOP’s J.J. Green got an early look at the preparations for the air show from Ian Lee, a pilot with the Thunderbirds. Lee, an experienced fighter pilot, is one of eight total pilots on the team, who flies in the diamond — one of the center four aircraft in the demonstration.

He said the F-16 aircraft used in the show is a “combat-capable aircraft” with only a few notable changes — including a splashy paint job.

The Thunderbirds have performed fly-bys for the Daytona 500 and the Super Bowl, and at numerous air shows around the country.

What to know if you go

General admission parking is at FedEx field, and there are shuttle buses to Joint Base Andrews. The buses start running from FedEx Field at 8:30 a.m. and stop running at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Buses back to FedEx from the expo will run continuously from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you plan on checking it out, be aware that several common items are prohibited, including all outside food and beverages, except emptied water bottles. Also prohibited are backpacks, large camera bags, large coolers, drones, weapons of any kind, bikes and pets.

You can see a schedule of the full events online.

Residents near Joint Base Andrews may notice increased noise as more than 50 aircraft arrive and depart the base.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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