California Capital Airshow Flies Back at MatherAug 24, 2023 12:00AM ● By By Tamara Warta
The Thunderbirds show off in the sky during 2022's air show. Photo courtesy of California Capital Airshow
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The popular California Capital Airshow is back at Mather this September, featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as its headlining act. The airshow was founded in 2014 and, with the exception of a pause for COVID-19, has been entertaining enthusiasts annually with a variety of modern and historic planes.
This year’s airshow is happening on Saturday, September 23 and Sunday, September 24. Admission costs are $40-$50 per ticket, but each ticket comes with up to 6 free admissions for youth aged 15 and younger, making it a reasonable deal for entire families who want to enjoy the marvels of air travel and military planes. Tickets are valid for only one day of the airshow, with most acts performing on both days.
Unlike prior years, 2023 tickets are only available online. There will be no onsite sales, and space is limited for both general and VIP ticketing options. High-end tickets used to include a grandstand and bleacher option, but this year has been converted into a new location called The Hangar. This brand-new chalet offers both indoor and outdoor seating areas along the front line of the shows, and also includes private restroom access, beer tasting, and access to food truck purchases. Those willing to spend more can also join the Flight Line and Capital clubs, both of which provide catered food and beverages, as well as premium seating areas.
If you’re attending the show on a budget, don’t worry. While you must find your own seating, there are plenty of perks to still enjoy both on the ground and by gazing up at the sky. Ground level entertainment this year includes vintage combat aircraft and trainers including warbirds that date back to the 1930s. Beale Airforce Base will also be represented at the show, bringing a Lockheed U-2 ‘Dragon Lady’ and T-38 Talons to admire. Children and families will enjoy the opportunity to walk through a large military transport plane as well as the impressively large cargo holds of the FedEx and UPS planes parked onsite. Lastly, public safety workers and first responders will be interacting with guests, teaching young guests how planes and helicopters are used to save lives.
While there’s certainly a lot to do on the ground, the real show is overhead. The airshow features both individual plane hobbyists and professional fighter jet pilots This year’s headliner, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, will roar through the sky in their F-16 Fighting Falcon jets. Their close formations are captivating but new airshow attendees be warned – these planes get loud. Consider bringing noise-canceling headphones for young viewers as well as those of any age that are sensitive to sound.
The rest of the airshow lineup includes the US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III Demonstration Team, a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet TacDemo, a US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, a 1920s-era Barnstormer, and stunt flyer Jim Peitz in a rare Beechcraft F33C Bonanza.
The California Capital Airshow is meticulously organized in order to successfully welcome thousands of guests each year but is also powered strongly by volunteers. Adults aged 18 and older are invited to join in on the fun of volunteering.
“Airshow volunteers play a vital role in supporting CCA’s mission to inspire young people using the power and magic of flight,” says Darcy Brewer, Executive Director of California Capital Airshow. “They build a great deal of community around this, all while experiencing the behind the-scenes excitement of producing a massive event.”
Volunteers run booths, direct parking, provide information to guests, and so much more. All volunteers receive food vouchers and a commemorative airshow crew t-shirt. Both individuals and groups volunteer each year, but not always without a bit of controversy. The airshow committee actively recruits non-profit groups to raise funds for their own causes by working the parking lot on both Saturday and Sunday. The non-profits receive $45 per day, per volunteer. The shifts are 11 hours long and no split shifts are permitted.
Tonia Clark was one to call out the airshow on social media. In responding to a recent post asking for non-profit help she said, “That’s less than $5 hour…while it is great that you’re helping nonprofits, it appears that it is a pretty good deal for the airshow, considering minimum wage is $15.50/hr. Are you helping nonprofits or taking advantage of them?”
The airshow has publicly responded in the past, reminding critics that they themselves are a non-profit and are doing what they can to give back to the community, including the aforementioned funds disbursement and also a scholarship program.
Overall, the California Capital Airshow is a quality outing for all ages. Consider coming out and exploring the world of aviation and air defense. But bring your sunscreen and hats, as the warm Sacramento sun will likely be in attendance, too. Tickets can be purchased at californiacapitalairshow.com.