Thunder Over NH Air Show 2023 at Pease: What to know before you go
PORTSMOUTH — When the Thunder Over New Hampshire Air Show last took over Seacoast air space two years ago, approximately 50,000 people saw and heard the aircraft in action, up close and personal, at the Pease Air National Guard Base.
The 2023 edition of the Thunder Over New Hampshire show will take place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9-10. The Air Force's F-16 Viper Demo Team is headlining the performances.
The air show will feature about a dozen flying performances by both military and civilian pilots and dozens of aircraft on display on the ground as well as educational hands-on activities for all ages.
Read on for answers to questions on the show, parking and much more:
The Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team will be joined by N.H. Air National Guard KC-46A tankers, the Vermont Air National Guard F-15 Eagle, the KC-135 Demo Team from Fairchild Air Force Base, the U.S. Special Operations Command Pura Commandos, aerobatic pilot Rob Holland, the N.H. Army Guard UH-60 Blackhawk, aerobatic pilot Kent Pietsch, the P-51C “Mad Max” with pilot Lou Horschel and the Smoke-N-Thunder Jet Truck.
“The 2023 Thunder Over New Hampshire Air Show will once again feature a large display of military aircraft as well as some of the top civilian pilots in the world,” said Herb Gillen, whose marketing agency is producing the show. “On the civilian side, we are excited for Kent Pietsch to perform his legendary acts, including landing his aircraft on the back of a moving truck. We also have Hayden Proffitt II and the Smoke-n-Thunder Jet Truck, which has not appeared here and is always a fan favorite.”
Gillen said the Seacoast crowds that attended past air shows have been “enthusiastic, appreciative, supportive of our military, and a somewhat younger demographic than we’ve seen at other shows.”
Admission to the show is free, but all the free parking spaces were quickly reserved back in March. However, at last check some premium parking at $75 and $45 remained available for reservation at thunderovernewhampshire.com/tickets-new.
After the free parking spaces were taken, air show organizers went to work trying to create more parking, and in July paid parking spaces became available for reservation online.
"We are very grateful to the (Pease Development Authority) for working with us to secure some additional space on the south ramp of the airport and across from the terminal parking lot,” Gillen said. “Although at this time there is still some parking remaining, there is less parking available than there was in 2021, and it will be sold out prior to the show.”
The space available for parking is smaller this year because the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease’s terminal is undergoing an expansion project.
“Our No. 1 priority is safety and our second consideration is the comfort of our guests. With the history of air shows at Pease, we were hypersensitive to making sure traffic and parking provided safe and easy entry and exit ...,” Gillen said.
Air show viewing outside gates:Here are great Seacoast spots to see show without going to Pease
Air show organizers decided to find a way to meet the need for more access this year.
“With less parking available on site this year, we wanted to explore offering other methods of attending as long as it could be done safely and not significantly increase entry and egress times,” Gillen said. “In consultation with our parking experts, the base and the PDA, we have evolved the traffic and parking plan this year to provide for rideshare drop-offs and bike parking near the terminal. We studied this very carefully, again with safety and guest experience, as our determining factors.”
There will be a rideshare drop-off and bicycle parking location near the South Gate to the air show in front of the Pease Terminal Building. People can walk into the show.
"Due to safety concerns of mixing pedestrian traffic with heavy vehicle traffic, we are encouraging guests to park on site in one of the air show lots or be dropped off at the drop-off near the terminal," Gillen said.
The parking lots at the air show will open at 8 a.m. both days. The gates, the aircraft on display on the runway and Patriot Plaza open at 9 a.m. The flying air show begins at approximately noon and goes until about 4 p.m. both days. The gates and parking lots close at 5 p.m. The specific times that each performer is flying will not be released so you have to pay attention or you might miss one.
Patriot Plaza will feature 52 acres of stationery aircraft displays, STEAM exhibits, hands-on educational activities for all ages, dining, concessions, souvenirs, commercial exhibits, the Kidz Zone Play Area, and a variety of premium seating options.
Air National Guard Technical Sgt. Victoria Nelson said there will be two ceremonies during the air show, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.
The Wing Jet Dedication on Saturday "will be a celebration of both the patriotism and unit pride that the men and women of the New Hampshire Air Guard embody every day with their one-of-a-kind aircraft paint scheme," Nelson said. The KC-46A aircraft christened Spirit of Portsmouth, with its American flag-inspired tail, will be on display.
On Sunday, the late Capt. Harl Pease Jr. historical ceremony, will be held. Pease is the namesake of Pease Air National Guard Base and a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in Papua New Guinea during World War II. The guest speaker is John Levitow Jr., son of deceased Sgt. John Levitow, the first enlisted Airman to earn the Medal of Honor, Nelson said. The ceremony will feature the B-52 Stratofortress from the 93rd Bombardment Wing where Pease served in World War II during his mission from Rabaul.
“We are excited to open our gates to the community,” said Maj. Michelle Mastrobattista, the air show and open house director for the 157th Refueling Wing. “We have some especially exciting entertainers, displays and STEM exhibits for all ages. It’s a great opportunity to give back to our civilian partners and the local community for all their support over the years.”
Air show proceeds will support the New Hampshire Military Assistance Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 2014 to support New Hampshire's military members and their families.
Parking for the show is in several lots adjacent to the runway at Pease. Visit thunderovernewhampshire.com/tickets-new for a parking map. Your parking pass tells you which lot you must park in. Parking lots at businesses located in the Pease International Tradeport will not be open to air show attendees.
Traffic will be heavy around Pease International Tradeport and the roadways that lead to it, so local residents should allow extra time. McIntyre Road on the tradeport will be closed when the air show is occurring due to safety setbacks for low-flying aircraft. Other road closures may be announced by Portsmouth or Newington police as the air show gets closer.
All three entrances to Pease Tradeport — from Route 33 and from the Spaulding Turnpike at the main entrance and at Exit 3 off Interstate 95 — will be open during the air show. Look for signage and law enforcement officers who will be giving direction to air show attendees.
Yes. For the first time, the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival has arranged to have Rob Holland, one of the acrobatic pilots performing at the air show, do a mini-show over the location of the festival in Hampton Beach on both Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9 and 10, at 1 p.m. Whether you’re enjoying the seafood at the festival or on the beach, you could get a taste of the air show there.
Comfortable shoes, sunscreen. ear protection, sunglasses, cameras (no bulky camera bags or lenses longer than a foot), blankets, lawn chairs, strollers and wagons for children are allowed inside the air show. Security reserves the right to turn away oversized carriages that can’t be properly inspected. There will be fill stations for personal water containers at no charge. Cash and cards will be accepted for purchases.
Not allowed at the air show are umbrellas, weapons of any type, illegal drugs, alcoholic beverages, flammable liquids, explosive materials, fireworks, smoking materials, vaping devices (smoking and vaping is prohibited in the show area), pets other than service animals, laser pointers, bicycles, scooters, skates, skateboards, wheeled shoes, Segway-style human transporters, large backpacks, bags or coolers exceeding 14 inches in length, width or height, drone aircraft or any type of propelled item capable of being airborne, glass containers and cans, canopies, tents, camera lenses longer than 12 inches, political activity or protests.
Yes, the air show is accessible to wheelchairs and walkers.
There will be space for changing and breastfeeding babies in the parent and baby tent located on the South Ramp.
Yes, the air show needs volunteers. Go to thunderovernewhampshire.com/volunteer for information and to apply.
Email [email protected].Air show viewing outside gates: