Central Coast AirFest.
Modern-day and vintage warbirds gather at the Santa Maria Public Airport for this weekend's Central Coast AirFest. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The skies above the Santa Maria Valley will be filled with aircraft this weekend as the annual Central Coast AirFest returns to entertain crowds.

Action in the sky is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and end by 4:30 p.m. Gates will open at 9 a.m. both days.

Residents may have noticed some activity Friday, which served as a practice day for performers.

Central Coast AirFest.
Wispy clouds hover overhead as aircraft fill the ramp at the Santa Maria Public Airport for this weekend’s Central Coast AirFest. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

This year’s air show will be directed by Planes of Fame, a Chino-based aviation museum planning to expand to Santa Maria.

“They just bring a whole new level of expertise and experience to air events,” said Jim Bray, AirFest sponsorship coordinator.

The Santa Maria Public Airport District serves as a key sponsor for the weekend’s show, but a number of community organizations and businesses also have stepped up as sponsors or to help in various ways.

An assortment of military and civilian performances featuring U.S. and foreign aircraft will fill the tarmac at the airport and the skies above.

Aerial acts will include an F-16C Fighting Falcon and the F/A-18F Super Hornet performing alone and participating in moving heritage and legacy flights with vintage aircraft. 

Central Coast AirFest.
A vintage warbird sporting creative nose art sits on display at the Santa Maria Public Airport for this weekend’s Central Coast AirFest. (Janene Scully /Noozhawk photo)

A number of current military aircraft also will conduct demonstration flights, including the Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tilt rotor and the Air Force’s KC-135 Stratotanker.

An Air Force F-35 flyby will take place Saturday only. 

Aerobatic acts set to fly include The Ace Maker T-33 Shooting Star, Eric Tucker, Jason Somes, Vicky Benzing, Dennis Sanders, and the Sukhoi West Demo Team.

Tucker, a Cal Poly graduate whose father performed in prior Santa Maria air shows, will bring back his own comedic show act to Central Coast AirFest.

“He is a big crowd-pleaser,” Bray said.

One act will remember the role of the World War II Army Air Corps by featuring flights of P-51s, a P-40, a P-47, a P-28, a B-17 and a B-25.

Several aircraft will sit on static display on the airfield.

The air show will take place on the ramp behind the Santa Maria Radisson hotel, with police officers expected to provide traffic control. 

Central Coast AirFest.
A Chick-fil-A airplane sits on the tarmac at the Central Coast AirFest on Friday. The air show will take place Saturday and Sunday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Admission on Saturday and Sunday will cost $25 for adults and $15 for youths ages 5 to 15. Children age 4 or younger will be admitted for free. 

Grandstand seats will be available for another $25.

Preferred parking has been sold out for Saturday but remains available for $20 on Sunday. 

Sunrise photo access passes for Saturday and Sunday can be purchased for $95 with access limited to 75 people each day. People must arrive by 6:30 a.m. 

Central Coast AirFest.
A fuel truck fills vintage warbirds at the Santa Maria Public Airport on Friday ahead of the Central Coast AirFest, when modern and vintage aircraft will take flight Saturday and Sunday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here

Tailgating and/or air show viewing in parking areas is not permitted, organizers said. 

For more information, including the schedule, go to centralcoastairfest.com.