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Thunder & Lightning Over Arizona - Air Show Event Guide

Thunder Lightning Arizona Show Davis Monthan Air Force Base | Thunder & Lightning Over Arizona - Air Show Event Guide

Hey Tucson! You're invited to Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base's Annual Open House.

The 2021 Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona Air Show promises to be a weekend packed with heart-pounding air performances and family-friendly activities. This is your chance to get up close and personal with the aircraft and pilots!

Lt Erin Ranaweera explained, "This is an opportunity for the base to show our appreciation to the great Tucson community. We are opening the gates to D-M and giving you the chance to learn more about who we are and what we do while you enjoy fabulous aerial demonstrations."

GENERAL INFORMATION

What are the dates for the 2021 Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona Open House?

There will be no Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona air show in 2020.

The 2021 open house will take place on April 24-25, 2021.

What is the location of Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona?

Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona is held at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Central Tucson.

The Craycroft and Swan Gates will be open for general public entry to the Open House.

What are the hours?

  • 9:00am-5:00pm on both days

What is the schedule/agenda for each day?

A full schedule will not be posted due to possible delays and scheduling. Gates will open at 9:00am.

Why would I go to Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona?

  • To attend a fun event for the whole family
  • To watch aerial demonstrations
  • To walk around 45 different static aircraft
  • To meet the airmen on base
  • To learn about D-M and the Air Force

What "documentation" is required to get on to the base on the days of the open house?

No documentation is required. This is a free event and the base will be open to the public throughout the weekend.

How much does it cost?

Although General Admission is FREE, a limited amount of premium seats are available while supplies last. Get your tickets early to see the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and so much more!

What is the parking situation?

General Parking is FREE. Personal vehicles are allowed entry through general public access areas.

The Craycroft and Swan Gates will be open for general public entry to the Open House.

The Craycroft Gate is located at Craycroft Road and Golf Links Road. It will be open for inbound Open House traffic only, Saturday and Sunday from 9am until 2pm. The Craycroft Gate will be open for outbound traffic only, Saturday and Sunday from 3pm to 5pm.

The Swan Gate is located at Swan Road and Golf Links Road. It will be open for inbound (2 lanes) and outbound (1 lane) Open House traffic, Saturday and Sunday from 9am until 2pm. The Swan Gate will be open for outbound (3 lanes) Open House traffic only, Saturday and Sunday from 3pm until 5pm.

Personnel will be in place to direct traffic both days of the event.

What should I wear?

Temperatures in this region in late April range from 51°F to 87°F, often with blue skies and lots of sun. The event is outdoors so good walking shoes and light layers are advisable. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and hats would also come in handy.

What is the seating like? Should people bring pop-up chairs and/or umbrellas?

There will be a small number of bleachers available on the flight line for seating. Pop-up chairs and umbrellas are not permitted, however there are sunshades on the flightline (normally shading the A-10s) that will provide more than enough shade for visitors. Chairs will be available for rent for $5 for the whole day.

What should I bring with me?

A camera! You’ll also want to bring water bottles to stay hydrated.

Admission is free, but you’ll probably want to bring some cash for food, drinks, chairs, and souvenirs.

Please also bring non-perishable food items for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. The general public can drop off donations at the collection point near the Swan Gate. Base personnel can drop off their donations at the collection point next to building 5600. There will also be signs posted the day of the event directing individuals to the food drive collection points.

Note that coolers, backpacks, large purses, camera bags, camelbacks, bicycles, and wagons will not be permitted.

Are bathrooms available?

Porta-potties will be located throughout the flight line and all visitor areas for easy access and to reduce the lines.

Can I bring my dog to the air show?

All pets are prohibited from the Thunder and Lightning over Arizona grounds. Service animals assisting physically challenged guests will be authorized.

Is the Festival wheelchair accessible?

Yes, there will be handicap parking and the flight line is completely wheelchair accessible. 

DINING

Is outside food allowed at Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona?

Outside food will not be permitted (there is an exception for baby food and formula), however there will be numerous vendors with food for sale on the flight line throughout both days.

What dining venues are available on-site?

Standard fair/festival food will be available for purchase: burgers, hot dogs, gyros, pizza, churros, etc.

What restaurants are located near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base?

Our top picks within a 4-mile radius include -

  • El Sur Restaurant, 5602 E. 22nd St (1.7 miles away) - enchiladas, tamales, burritos, tacos
  • El Guero Canelo, 5802 E. 22nd St (2 miles away) - tacos, burros, tortas, Sonoran hot dogs
  • Monkey Burger, 5350 E. Broadway Blvd (2.8 miles away) - hamburgers, sandwiches, milkshakes, beer wine
  • Sweet Tomatoes, 6202 E. Broadway Blvd (3.5 miles away) - all-you-can-eat salad, soup, hot bar, bakery
  • Poco & Mom's, 1060 S. Kolb Rd (3.7 miles away) - New Mexican breakfast, lunch, dinner

BABIES & KIDS

Can kids attend Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona?

Yes! There will be numerous static aircraft displays where kids can get up close and touch airplanes. In addition, various units on base will be showcasing their missions and their equipment [including the Explosive Ordinance Pyrotechnics unit]. There will also be bouncy castles and other activities in the Kid Zone for smaller children.

Should I bring a stroller?

Yes. A stroller will likely be useful as you walk around the base with little ones.

Will I need earplugs for myself or my children?

Yes. DM recommends that you bring ear protection for yourself and your children.

Is there a designated area for nursing moms?

No.

Are changing tables available?

No.

WHERE TO STAY

What hotels do you recommend near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base?

We recommend:

Another terrific option is to find a vacation rental thru Tucson Vacation Rentals.

MISCELLANY

Is the air show active on social media?

Yes! You can follow Thunder & Lightning Over Arizona on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Additionally, you can follow Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on Facebook and Twitter.

What else do I need to know before I go to the Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona Open House?

This is a popular event! Crowds can be thick and the sun can be intense. Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear sun/ear protection. That just about covers it. Have a great time!

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