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Smoky Mountain Air Show: What you need to know

The countdown is on to the Smoky Mountain Air Show.

On April 16 and 17, Knoxville will welcome the Blue Angels, along with some of the fastest planes in the world, and even the Clydesdale horses.

Over the entire weekend, organizers estimate a crowd of 250,000 will turn out.

They want to ensure attendees know what to expect.

WBIR and WBIR.com will have live coverage of the air show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The show will feature behind-the-scenes work leading up to the show, and broadcast all the performances as they are happening.

PARKING:

General admission to the air show is free, but you should purchase a parking pass for the best and safest access to the event. Prices vary-- you can purchase your parking pass here.

The airport has designated three parking areas for attendees and passes are almost sold out. Organizers suggest you buy these now to make for a smoother experience and will keep you from crossing Alcoa Highway to get to the show.

Each vehicle must have a parking pass, but it doesn't matter how many passengers are in the car-- it's just one price for all!

Already got your parking pass? View the map here to figure out where to go.

Accessible parking is available near the Blue Lot and is a paved area. Click here to view a map. This lot will offer fully-accessible shuttles to the air show site. In order to park in this designated lot, you must present an accessible parking pass and your vehicle must display an official, current Disabled Person License Plate and/or Placard. Parking passes in this lot are limited and are available on a first come, first served basis.

Buy tickets Entry to the air show itself is free, VIP seating options are available

TRAFFIC:

Here are some alternate routes if you need to go near the airport.

Northbound traffic can take Cusick to Wright Road and then back to Alcoa Highway.

There's also the option of taking Louisville Road to Topside Road and back to Alcoa.

Drivers could take the Old Knoxville Highway to Pellissippi Parkway and take that north to West Knoxville.

RESERVED AND VIP SEATING:

All attendees are encouraged to bring folding chairs or blankets with them. Reserved and VIP seating is sold out.

WHAT YOU’LL SEE:

For the first time in 16 years, the skies above the National Guard Air Base and Tyson McGhee airport will host the Blue Angels.

The U.S. Navy will also bring their parachute team, the leap frogs and a diving tank.

"Everything from heavy jets and Humvees to hamburgers,” described Lieutenant Colonel Bart Wilder.

As the Military Air Show Liaison, Wilder is in the captain’s seat of planning. The show has taken two years of preparation.

"It's a huge event, it's not just watching airplanes fly,” said Wilder.

He’s hoping to bring the same spark to air show guests that he once felt as a young boy.

"When I was five years old I went to an air show,” said Wilder, “Decided at that time that I wanted to be a pilot, and that's all I've ever wanted to do."

Combine his passion with talent from across the country and you can expect quite a line-up.

Flips, turns and mid-air acrobatics will come from performers like Greg Koontz, Jacquie B and Younkin Airshows.

The fun continues on the ground, where music and vendors will fill the runway. 55 different aircraft displays will also be available for attendees to touch, go inside and talk with the pilot.

“The B-1 bomber, it's probably dropped more bombs than any of the current bombers right now,” said Capt. Justin Wilson, ground show director.

The most advanced fighter in the world, the F-22, will make an appearance as well.

"The AC31 gunship, which will be really cool to see people can walk in and see the guns strapped inside and walk around outside,” said Wilson.

Organizers hope the Smoky Mountain Air Show will be an experience to remember, and a chance to spark a little imagination.

"I know there's a lot of kids out here and there's probably a future pilot that's going to be there, and his dads going to have to carry him around because he will get too tired," said Wilder. I'm getting pretty excited for those kids and them getting to experience aviation at that age."

SCHEDULE:

8 a.m. : Parking Areas Open
10 a.m. : Gates Open
10: a.m. – 5 p.m. : Static Displays, Vendors, Exhibits, Kids Area and Music Stage
11 a.m. – Noon : Opening Ceremonies
Noon – 4 p.m. : Aerial Performances
6 p.m. : Gates Close

When guests arrive they will have to go through security screening.

WHAT YOU CAN BRING:

  • Hearing protection
  • Sunscreen, chap stick, hats and sunglasses
  • Small purses and fanny packs (not to exceed 8 in. X 8 in.)
  • Small diaper bags (not to exceed 14 in. X 14 in.) when accompanied by an infant *Note: all bags will be searched
  • Strollers
  • Baby related items including: bottles (may be glass), food (may be glass), snacks and necessities
  • Rain ponchos
  • Cell phones, cameras and camcorders
  • Camera bags smaller than 1 cubic foot
  • Binoculars
  • Folding chairs and blankets
  • Wheelchairs

WHAT NOT TO BRING:

  • Tents, including pop-ups or awnings, campers or RV’s (NO tailgating in parking areas)
  • Umbrellas of any size
  • Coolers
  • Backpacks
  • Glass containers, aluminum cans, camelbacks or open/unsealed liquid containers
  • Barbecues or cooking equipment
  • Pets (with the exception of service animals)
  • Due to safety reasons, personal golf carts, scooters, Segways, hover boards and other motorized conveyances (excludes medical transportation devices)
  • Skateboards, roller skates, scooters and bicycles
  • Beach balls, balloons, signs and banners
  • Horns, whistles and other loud items
  • Laser pointers
  • Drugs/drug paraphernalia
  • Alcohol (alcohol will be available for purchase on site with valid ID)
  • Smoking (which includes vaping) will only be allowed in designated smoking areas
  • Weapons of any kind including firearms, blades (including pocket knives) and blunt objects. NO CONCEALED CARRY. Items restricted by federal law or which, in the judgment of Air Show/Open House officials, may create a safety risk or reduce the enjoyment of the event for other guests.
  • Radio scanners

PLANNING TIPS

  • Families should agree on a meeting place for everyone before, during and after the show.
  • An information booth will be on site with maps, schedules and other information.
  • Outside food and drink are prohibited, with the exception of baby-related items.
  • Concessions will be set up on site with food and beverage for purchase.
  • Bring cash for food and beverage concessions. No credit cards accepted.
  • Lawn chairs or blankets are permitted, but all items will be screened at security.
  • Portable restrooms will be available in several areas.
  • The parking lots open at 8 a.m. and Air Show entry begins at 10 a.m.
  • Smoking (which includes vaping) will only be allowed in designated smoking areas
  • Make sure to bring your purchased parking pass to the event.
  • Parking will be crowded. Please plan ahead and allow extra time for parking.
  • All attendees and accompanied items will go through a security inspection upon entrance to the Air Show.