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MacDill AirFest, featuring the Blue Angels, takes to the sky over Tampa

It's the event that makes both military buffs and tiny tots gape in awe. MacDill AirFest takes off this weekend with tens of thousands of spectators, all looking up. And it's free admission and parking.

What you'll see: In a fitting end to Tampa Navy Week, the main attraction is the Blue Angels precision flying team. They are set to perform at 3 p.m. both days. You'll also see a variety of aircraft and demonstrations in the air and on the ground, including the B-25 medium bomber, F-15E Strike Eagle modern fighter, P-51 Mustang fighter, T-6 Texan and parachute jumpers. See macdill-airfest.com for a complete schedule.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Getting there: Expect huge traffic jams around Dale Mabry Highway and MacDill Avenue at the Air Force base. Gates open at 8 a.m., but drivers often start lining up at 6. Gates will close when spaces are full. Then only foot traffic and public transportation will be allowed.

Buses: HART is adding weekend service on Route 4 to take people back and forth from downtown Tampa to the base. Fare is $1.75 one way, 85 cents for 65 and older and 17 and younger; 4 and younger are free. Bring exact change.

What to bring: Water, sunscreen, hats, earplugs, chairs and cameras.

Leave at home: Coolers, glass, pets, bikes, skateboards, scooters and alcohol.

Compiled by Times staff writer Kelly Smith

Blue Angels

(really) fast facts

So how fast do they fly?

The F/A-18 Hornets reach up to about 700 mph during the show (solo pilot during sneak pass). The slowest is about 120 mph.

How low do they go?

50 feet, by the lead solo pilot during the sneak pass.

And how high?

Up to 15,000 feet, by one of the solo pilots during vertical rolls.

How'd they get that name?

From New York's famous Blue Angel nightclub. In 1946, the original team came across it in the New Yorker magazine and it stuck.

Source: www.blueangels.navy.mil

MacDill AirFest, featuring the Blue Angels, takes to the sky over Tampa 03/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 5:30am]

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