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Airshow & Boater Information

United States Air Force Thunderbirds

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds perform at the National Cherry Festival's Air Show July 1 & July 2, 2023. Enjoy the free airshow from the Traverse City Beaches along West Grand Traverse Bay or enjoy one of our foodie events while watching the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds take to the sky.

The National Cherry Festival Air Show can be streamed live at WTCM GOLD AM1310.

United States Air Force Thunderbirds

About the Thunderbirds: The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, performs precision aerial maneuvers demonstrating the capabilities of Air Force high performance aircraft to people throughout the world. The squadron exhibits the professional qualities the Air Force develops in the people who fly, maintain and support these aircraft.

The Thunderbirds squadron is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, three civilians and more than 130 enlisted personnel performing in 25 career fields.

A Thunderbirds air demonstration is a mix of formation flying and solo routines. The four-aircraft diamond formation demonstrates the training and precision of Air Force pilots, while the solo aircraft highlight the maximum capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The pilots perform approximately 30 maneuvers in a demonstration. The entire show, including ground and air, runs about an hour and fifteen minutes. The season lasts from March to November, with the winter months used to train new members. (from the USAF website)

Rhino Demonstration Team

The National Cherry Festival Airshow welcomes the United States Navy's Rhino Demonstration Team

Kevin Coleman - Coleman Aerosports

Kevin is one of the top aerobatic pilots in the world, surprisingly so at the young age of 32 years. He was one of just three American pilots to compete across the globe in the Red Bull Air Race World Championships, doing so as the youngest competitor in the Challenger Class, where he recorded three wins and 16 podium finishes in 21 races. Kevin's prowess as a pilot also earned him a spot on the U.S. Advanced Aerobatics Team.

Kevin is a second-generation pilot who began flying lessons and aerobatics at the tender age of ten with late American aviation legend and Aerobatic Hall of Fame member, Marion Cole. He soloed on his 16th birthday and followed with his Private Pilot’s License on his 17th birthday. Soon after he launched his full-time, professional aviation career at age 18, performing year round in the air show circuit across the United States.

Aerial shot of Kevin Coleman flying in his red bull plane

Michigan State Police UH-1H Huey

Michigan State Police’s Aviation Unit works closely with all Michigan law enforcement agencies, as well as the Michigan National Guard and the United States Coast Guard air stations.

The Aviation Unit has a fleet of aircraft based out of Lansing’s Capital Region International Airport, with satellite offices in Saginaw and Ypsilanti. Aircraft include a Beech King Air 90, Cessna 182R, Bell 206L3, two Bell 407s, two Bell UH-1H Hueys, and three Aeryon SkyRanger Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs).

The Aviation Unit also uses a downlink truck, which receives live video feeds from the helicopters or UAS, providing ground commanders with increased situational awareness of critical incidents.

North Flight Aero Med

North Flight Aero Med, operated by Spectrum Health Hospitals, covers northern Michigan and beyond with a critical care configured Sikorsky S-76 helicopter available for scene response and inter-facility transports. North Flight Aero Med also operates a King Air B200 airplane available for long distance inter-facility transfers.

The skilled professionals of the primary response teams include registered nurses, paramedics and pilots who are specialists in transporting critically ill and injured patients. All North Flight Aero Med clinical personnel are certified in advanced trauma, cardiac, neonatal, and pediatric critical care.

Warbird Thunder

Warbird Thunder Airshows provides an a 12-minute airshow performance featuring the North American SNJ Texan, a former WWII Navy Advanced Training Aircraft.

Two SNJs performing beautiful formation aerobatics offers a great spectator experience due to the aircraft’s large physical size, beautiful radial engine sound and the fantastic smoke presentation.

The SNJ was nicknamed “Ol Growler” because of its distinct deep and throaty roar – nothing else sounds like it. Warbird Thunder’s formation aerobatic routine is fast paced and entertaining. The two aircraft perform formation loops, aileron rolls, barrel rolls, and Cuban Eights but also separate bringing more excitement with opposing aerobatics before rejoining for the final maneuvers.

US Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City

The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City demonstrates search and rescue used on the Great Lakes. The National Cherry Festival is proud to be located in a Coast Guard City and is thankful for the support of the USCG.
USCG helicopter performing a search & rescue demo over Grand Traverse Bay

Airshow Foodie Events!

Thank you Air Show Sponsors!

Northern Michigan Toyota Dealers 2023
Cherry Capital Airport Logo
NMC Aviation Division logo
Aces Marine and Salvage Logo
AV Flight Logo
Sam's Club Logo
WTCM Gold AM 1320 logo
UpNorth Live Logo

Boater & Air Show Frequently Asked Questions


Safety is the primary concern of the National Cherry Festival, United States Coast Guard and the Grand Traverse Veterans Coalition. The U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes Marine Sector, in cooperation with the FAA, has issued a Marine Permit that authorizes restrictions on boating during these events. We will make every effort to minimize any inconvenience these restrictions may cause you.

Patrol vessels from the U.S. Coast Guard Station Charlevoix, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Grand Traverse County Sheriff Marine Patrol, Leelanau County Sheriff Marine Patrol, and Coast Guard Auxiliary Patrol and Power Squadron will enforce restricted areas.
The time frame for these restrictions may change slightly from these published times. Please listen for all Notice to Mariners broadcasts from the U.S. Coast Guard on Channel 16.

We appreciate your cooperation and hope you enjoy these events from your boat.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires areas under an aerobatic box to be clear of all spectators. These restrictions protect the spectators and help eliminate distractions to the air show performers. The restricted area will be marked by orange and white buoys and will be patrolled. The patrol vessels will begin to move boaters out of the area beginning at approximately 11:30 am and we anticipate the area to be closed to all vessels from 12:30 p.m. until about 3:30 p.m. each day. This restriction includes transiting vessels. If you intend to move north or south of the restricted area you must be in position before 12:30 p.m. and will not be able to return until after 3:30 p.m. Please listen to Notice to Mariner broadcasts concerning the restrictions on channel 16.

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