Imagine thousands of people packed together on a hot day in May on Fort Lauderdale beach with their heads fixed on the sky as various types of planes and jets majestically danced among the clouds and that was how I would describe my experience at the 2016 Fort Lauderdale Air Show. I’m one for new experiences and seeing how I’ve never witnessed an air show in my life I thought the air show returning to Fort Lauderdale for the first time in a couple of years was a good time to check it out. Of course I had to bring my camera with me to try to capture the action with the emphasis on try. Some of those jets were fast.
I really didn’t know what to expect seeing how this is my first time at the Fort Lauderdale Air Show. I wasn’t going in thinking my photos will look like Moose Peterson’s or anything, but I wanted some good shots. There was a dedicated photo pit, but a hefty price tag accompanied that so I paid a smaller fee to be in the “Drop Zone” or as the Fort Lauderdale Air Show called it the center of the action.
I got there early enough but I was somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer number of other spectators out there. There was barely any wiggle room to maneuver on the sands of Fort Lauderdale beach. As I had already staked my claim to the bite size space of the sand, I watched as tents and umbrellas sprout up all around me like dandelions in a bed of roses. I could already see that I would have some issues as my line of sight towards the water would be obscured by the large tents.
The air show started at 11am and there were a few clouds scattered among the sky which was about to be littered with aerial displays and my first thought was that the sun was going to produce some harsh shadows and blow out some of the highlights in the photo. With the planes and jets performing in the sky it was hard to avoid the sun especially when it was straight up in the sky.
Once the show started I was amazed with the dazzling display of aerial acrobatics as well as the death defying stunts some of these pilots performed. I was thinking as I was watching the action through my viewfinder was that if one pilot was off by just a foot there could have been a disaster. The highlight for me was the F-35 Joint Strikeforce Jet. This was the first time the F-35 was seen in a public air show. It flew jointly with a WWII era P-51 Mustang before it performed by itself.
Overall it was a great experience. I fascinated by the size, speed and sounds from some of the military jets and by the acrobats of some of the smaller plans. I think next time I find a spot higher up to shoot from to get away from the potential of having umbrellas and tents in my view as the planes flew closely over the ocean waters.
If you haven’t checked out an air show before it’s something you have to do at least once!