“Thunder” dress rehearsal draws excited spectators; show takes off noon Saturday

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB-TV) – All eyes are on the skies this weekend, as the Thunder on the Buffalo Waterfront is set to kick off at noon Saturday.

The four-hour airshow on Saturday and Sunday showcases all kinds of aerial performers, military jets, and culminates with the famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

“We’re expecting a full show,” said Air Show Director Ben Canetti, ahead of Friday’s dress rehearsal.

Friday, spectators filtered into the Outer Harbor to catch the practice as amazingly fast, high-performance military and civilian aircraft practiced their stunts.

Veterans and their families were invited to special access viewing point to see the planes close up.

“It puts us on the map. It’s good for our air base as well,” said Sergeant First Class Vincent Lograsso, who took advantage of that opportunity. “These guys get out here and fly by, and everyone’s going to come out and enjoy this show. It’s sold out for the weekend, so looking forward to it.”

It’s a change of venue from the Niagara Falls air base, where Thunder on the Niagara is usually held. The shows take a long-time plan. Canetti is especially proud they planned this one in a relatively short amount of time.

“Typically, when we plan air shows, we start two years in advance, and there’s a lot of planning. Due to restrictions on the base, we moved it down here,” Canetti said. “So teaming up with everyone that pulled this off, doing it in 60 days is remarkable. We’re getting a lot of kudos from the industry, the airshow industry that is.”

Ticketed guests will be led into the Outer Harbor from either Route 5, or from Ohio Street, and then after showing your ticket, you’ll be guided to a parking lot. Boaters can enjoy the show from the water, minus a restricted zone, and they should follow all coast guard boats. The Buffalo Waterfront is expecting 5,000 people each day.

“He loves airplanes!” Arielle Kubiak said of her son, Colton, as the two watched the dress rehearsal. Colton’s grandfather is a veteran.

It’s loud, so organizers recommend bringing ear protection, especially for kids. At least one plane moves at 600 miles per hour.

“Oh my god it’s incredible. When it first came over, it came out of nowhere because you couldn’t hear it until it was already past us. The things that he’s doing are amazing,” Kubiak said.

“It was awesome, it was really cool. I mean, just to hear that sound effect go through your body, it was good,” SFC Lograsso said.

Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.

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