KDF announces plans for a different Thunder Over Louisville in 2021

Airshow, firework display to take place in undisclosed locations
Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 5:26 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - While social distancing guidelines will prevent the gathering of hundreds of thousands of people along the shores of the Ohio River, the Kentucky Derby Festival says the changes they’ve made to this year’s Thunder Over Louisville means many people will be able to see it from their homes.

The 32nd annual event, which is the kickoff to the Kentucky Derby Festival is “Illuminating Our Community.”

“Thunder Over Louisville is going to be different this year. Nothing like we’ve ever seen or done before,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO. “With help from our sponsors and partners, we’ve re-imagined the event and how we can bring it to the community. From planes to fireworks, this year’s show will still have its Thunder.”

Among the changes is that the air show will take place over two hours on Thunder day. There will be an air box for the show, allowing for fly-bys as well as some aerobatics which will all be televised.

“You’ll be able to watch them on tv, but you may also see them flying around the community too,” Gibson said.

Scheduled to take part are C-130s from Kentucky Air National Guard and UPS 767 freighters. The air show will also include US Air Force A-10s, C-17 Globemaster III, T-38 jet trainers, F-16 fighter jets and aerial refueling tankers. In addition, Army helicopters and the vintage Tuskegee Airman P-51 Mustang will take part.

KDF will also add a new event this year: a drone show leading up the the launch of the fireworks with 50 drones taking part.

The fireworks launch locations are not being made public to prevent people from gathering, but KDF says they will be in five different areas of the community. Launch locations will be in north, south, east, and western parts of the city, along with one location in Southern Indiana.

Organizers ask the public to not gather at any of the undisclosed firework locations, as it could put the show and the health and safety of the staff at risk.

“We can’t reiterate enough, viewing from home; from television is the best, safest way to do it,” Gibson said. “Anything beyond that will put the show in jeopardy.”

The fireworks are scheduled to launch at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 17.

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