By Elizabeth Klinge

RANCHO CORDOVA (CBS13) — Friday marked opening day for the California Capital Airshow in Rancho Cordova.

Thousands of people turned out to see the annual event, which was canceled last year as a pandemic precaution. But now they have new safety measures in place.

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The thunderbirds are back, along with more than a dozen other aerial acts performing in this year’s airshow at Mather Field.

Among the featured aircraft were military cargo planes from Travis Air Force Base and the U-2 spy plane based out of Beale Air Force Base.

Last year’s annual airshow was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. But this year, a number of changes were in place to keep crowds safe.

Angela terry – airshow director of operations

“If you’re not ready to go to a mega event, which we are considered, we gave people another option to hang out with their family,” said Angela Terry, director of operations for the airshow.

Friday’s opening night featured a first of it’s kind drive-in viewing area where people could park and still get an up-close look at the action overhead.

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“It gives us an opportunity to be with the families and spend a little time and still be able to social distance,” said Dominic Harfield, who was in attendance.

“I think this is much better instead of having to walk around and deal with all the crowds and everything we’re enjoying our time with the family and enjoy the air show it’s awesome,” said Ashley Uzeta, who was also there.

The number of tickets being sold this year has been cut in half to just 20,000 people a day, and some events have been suspended like Rides On Legacy Aircraft and the kids’ pavilion.

“We’ve taken a pause on that this year because we knew thousands of families would pack in that’s just not where we are at right now in society,” Terry said.

But the stars of the show—the precision planes—were still enough to keep all eyes glued to the skies.

“It feels great to be back,” Terry said.

The show continues Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon.

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Tickets are only available to purchase online so organizers can limit the crowds.

Elizabeth Klinge