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Florida International Air Show
November 1 - November 3
History of the Air Show
The 2018 Florida International Air Show celebrates its 37th year of continuously presenting air shows to the residents and visitors of Southwest Florida. Beginning as a brief single day event with only a few acts, the Air Show has grown into a three-day event with family and fan-friendly activities, a large variety of acts, interactive displays and much more. The Punta Gorda Airport plays an integral role in the Air Show’s history—it was here long before the Florida International Air Show and has hosted the event since its inception.
Government officials began planning the Punta Gorda Army Air Field in 1941. Plans called for a base including two squadrons of student pilots and over 3,000 off base personnel. The base was home to forty Curtis P-40 “Warhawk” aircraft, later changed to North-American P-51 “Mustang” aircraft, which were assigned as part of the final flight training for pilots who were sent overseas to fight the war in these famed aircraft. The base also had C-45 and C-47 transports assigned to the Punta Gorda Army Air Field. All base officers and some upper NCOs lived in Punta Gorda, while all student officers and most enlisted men lived in tent structures on base. Buildings included operation headquarters, classrooms, supply, fire station, dispensary, chapel and the control tower. The base had nose hangars where just the nose of the plane was under shelter for repairs. The Army airfield closed shortly after WWII and reverted to the County’s jurisdiction becoming what is now known as the Punta Gorda Airport.
Today, the airport is managed and operated by the Punta Gorda Airport Authority and is recognized as one of the finest general aviation facilities in Florida. The Airport hosted its first air show on New Year’s Day in 1950. Betty Skelton was a featured performer and the star of that show. Betty returned to the Airport and present-day Air Show in 2008, honored and recognized as a Pioneer in Aviation.