When Kevin Elliott, CEO of Surf City entertainment company Code Four, visited the first Pacific Airshow in 2016, he immediately saw the value and wanted to get in on the action.
And so he did.
After becoming an investor in 2017, Elliott bought and took the Huntington Beach-based event under his company’s wing in 2018.
It is now the largest airshow in the world by attendance—last October’s event helped bring in around 3 million people to the area, despite the third and last day of the event being canceled due to the local oil spill—and will expand its footprint overseas.
Elliott announced last month that the Pacific Airshow, a fall weekend event to showcase military performances and beach activities, will expand to Queensland, Australia on the Gold Coast in 2023.
During a trip to Australia last month to finalize details, Elliott reported strong support across the board from federal ministers to the council staff. The Gold Coast airshow will mark the local entertainment’s international debut and a first step to becoming “a global spectacle”.
The event generated north of $100 million for the OC economy in 2019, according to an economic impact report commissioned by Visit Huntington Beach.
The event will be organized by Code Four in partnership with the city of Gold Coast and its major events team, along with the State of Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland.
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The Pacific Airshow debuted in Huntington Beach in 2016 with a weekend full of aerobatic flights over the beach watched by plane aficionados and their families.
The show, voted among the top best air shows by USA Today from 2019 to 2021, has grown to host U.S. allies from around the world, becoming the only North American airshow to host three jet teams from three different countries, according to officials.
The show got a new addition last year in the form of the two-night Afterburner Music Festival.
“It’s the future of entertainment. It’s more than just music, more than sports—it’s an integrated family lifestyle event,” Elliott told the Business Journal.
Elliott founded Code Four in 2007 as an event planning firm, but his passion for aviation stretches back to his childhood when he built model planes and flew remote control planes with his father.
Those two worlds collided with the air show, which served as Code Four’s first in-house event.
“We are the engine behind the Pacific Airshow, leveraging internal capacity to promote and execute the event.”
The airshow was one of two major local events Code Four purchased in 2018, along with the Orange County Cherry Blossom Festival. Including the music festival, the Huntington Beach-based company now counts three events in its intellectual property portfolio which generate more than $300 million in economic impact to Southern California every year, according to Elliott.
“I’m delivering value for my city,” Elliott said.
This year’s OC airshow, which expects more than 3 million attendees, will return Sept. 30-Oct. 2 with performances by the U.S. Airforce Thunderbirds and Royal Canadian Forces Snowbirds headlining the event. Performers from the Australian military will also attend, including former combat instructor and Red Bull Air Race world champion Matt Hall.