More than 50,000 people are expected to attend The Great State of Maine Air Show in Brunswick later this month, an event that will feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds precision flight team.

The Air Force’s jet fighter pilots, known as “America’s Ambassadors in Blue,” will headline the three-day air show, Aug. 24-26.

The air show will be held at the Brunswick Executive Airport, part of Brunswick Landing, the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.

“We’ve got some of the nation’s top (aerial flying acts) this year,” said Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which is redeveloping the military base. It is lead agency for the air show.

Levesque said this will be the Thunderbirds’ first performance at the air show in 17 years.

Levesque said his agency had to apply more than a year ago to book the Thunderbirds.

The Thunderbirds will fly on Aug. 24 and 25, Levesque said. Last year’s air show featured the Navy’s Blue Angels flying team.

Levesque said he expects 50,000 to 70,000 people to attend the air show over three days.

The last day of the 2011 air show was canceled when Tropical Storm Irene passed over New England.

After being run for years by sailors at the former Brunswick Naval Station, the air show is now staged by civilian volunteers.

Air show organizers say it takes about 600 volunteers to assemble the air show venue, sell tickets, work concessions, handle trash and recycling, provide hospitality services and work with performers.

The air show distributes donations and revenues to local charities. Last year, it gave away $45,000.

“Charitable giving is a wonderful way to thank our communities who have been very supportive of the continued tradition of air shows in Brunswick,” Levesque said in a statement.

Levesque said the air show will feature several well-known national acts, but the highlight will be the Thunderbirds.

Levesque said the Thunderbirds fly F-16 Fighting Falcons in tight formations with only a few feet separating their wing tips.

The Misty Blues, the only all-woman skydiving demonstration team in the world, and Mike Goulian, an acrobatic pilot known for his crisp, athletic style of stunt flying, will also perform.

The Texas Flying Legends, who fly World War II aircraft, and the Red Tail P-51 Mustang squadron, which flies to honor the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen — America’s first black military pilots and crew — are also on the list of performers, as is Team Chaos, an “extreme” act that promises a lot of fire.

A fireworks show by Atlas Fireworks will close out Friday night’s performance.

Tickets are $5 in advance, with children age 6 and younger admitted free. Tickets are $10 after Aug. 18 and at the gate. Gates will open at 5 p.m. Aug. 24. For more information or to purchase tickets online, go to: www.great

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]


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