A flight demonstration team flies in formation during the 2019 NAS Oceana Air Show, which this year will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. Photo by Abraham Essenmacher/U.S. Navy
Aug. 27 (UPI) -- The annual air show at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia will be a virtual event this year, officials announced Thursday.
The air show will be broadcast online on the afternoon of Sept. 19 rather than inviting the public on the base to watch it, in order to allow Hampton Roads residents "to see naval aviation up close in a safe environment during the COVID-19 pandemic," NAS Oceana officials said.
"NAS Oceana is very fortunate to call the cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake our home, and we take pride in doing our part to keep the public safe. As members of these great communities, we know that people look forward to attending our very popular air show," Capt. John W. Hewitt, Commanding Officer of NAS Oceana, said in a press release.
"Moving the air show to a live-streamed event allows us to keep everyone healthy, while still showcasing what the Navy and Marine Corps team is capable of doing when we deploy around the world to defend America's interests," Hewitt said.
The in-person air show, which has been held nearly every year since 1962 and attracts more than 250,000 spectators, was canceled July 13 to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
This year's show carries the theme "In It Together," and is intended to pay tribute to frontline workers in the coronavirus pandemic.
The show's schedule is still under development but will include a live performance of the NAS Oceana-based "Rhino" Demonstration Team that flies the F/A-18F Super Hornet with aircrew who are assigned to VFA-106, as well as the Air Force's F-22 and A-10 Thunderbolt tactical demonstration teams.
The broadcast will also show pre-recorded video features including a tour of the Navy's East Coast Master Jet Base and an overview of the history of naval aviation.
"The best way to view the air show is on your phone, tablet or computer," Hewitt said.
"We need to make sure emergency services personnel can get wherever they may need to go and that nobody is spreading the virus outside of our gates trying to get a better view of the show. We can't wait to welcome everyone back to NAS Oceana when it is safe to do so, but you can help us speed up that process by watching from the comfort of your home," he said.
The four-hour show will be streamed on both Facebook and YouTube.