Canadian Snowbirds Visit Blue Angels, Perform In Pensacola

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

Snowbirds and Blue Angels at Pensacola

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds made a visit to NAS Pensacola, home of the US Navy Blue Angels, ahead of their show in Anderson, SC.

The team arrived Sunday night, and joined the Blues in ‘buzzing the beach’, their tradition when returning home from a show. Because the Snowbirds were low on fuel, the teams did not join up but flew along the white sandy beaches of Pensacola at the same time.

Fans in the area also got a special treat during the week from the Canadian team as they practiced over the base. Traditionally, the Blue Angels practice during the week at Pensacola, with performances open to the public. To have two jet teams perform several times in one week was quite the show!

The teams took the opportunity to ride with each other and discuss best practices. Last year, the US Air Force Thunderbirds stopped by Pensacola for a similar visit.

The teams also took some time to sign autographs following their practice performance.

Snowbirds and Blue Angels Sign AutographsSnowbirds and Blue Angels at Pensacola

Snowbirds and Blue Angels Sign Autographs

Snowbirds and Blue Angels at Pensacola

Thunder In The Valley Airshow To Cease Operations Following 2018 Airshow

posted in: Airshows | 0

Thunder in the Valley Airshow Ceases Operations

The Thunder in the Valley airshow, held annually in Columbus, GA will not be returning in 2019.

The Board of Directors of the event announced that due to raising costs and a difficulty in obtaining sponsorship money, the event would not continue.

“We feel the air show competes with many other events for the same patrons’ time and money, as well as corporate sponsorship dollars. We’ve had great success for 21 years, and we believe the time is right to bring the show to an end,” Phaedra Childers, the event coordinator said.

The air show, which began in 1997 as a local fly-in, had grown to be one of the largest outdoor family events in the Chattahoochee Valley. An average of 10,000 guests per day attended the show each year. Over the show’s 21 year history, more than $1 million in donations have been donated back to Chattahoochee Valley youth organizations and charities from the profits the show collects.

The 2018 edition of the show was held in April and included performances by the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, Viper Airshows, Kent Pietsch and others.

Warbird Heritage Foundation Acquires P-51 Mustang “Moonbeam McSwine” To Honor Vlado Lenoch

posted in: Warbirds | 8

Vlado Lenoch and Moonbeam McSwine

Moonbeam McSwine is coming home!

The Warbird Heritage Foundation announced Wednesday that they’ve purchased the P-51 Mustang named “Moonbeam McSwine” from its most recent owner, Mr. Frederic Akary of France. The aircraft will reside under a new FAA registration number, N51VL, in honor of Vlado Lenoch.

Vlado and Moonbeam were synonymous; he flew the aircraft for over 20 years before he sold it to Akary in 2012 and began flying WHF’s P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck” at airshows instead. Vlado and passenger Bethany Root were flying in Baby Duck when they were killed in a crash last July. The aircraft was completely destroyed in the incident.

Moonbeam McSwine ReassemblyMoonbeam McSwine Reassembly

Rumors have been swirling for weeks now that Moonbeam was being brought home to the US to be flown as a tribute to Vlado, but until today nothing was confirmed publicly. The aircraft has arrived from overseas and is scheduled to be re-assembled at Tab-Air in East Troy, WI before joining the WHF fleet in Waukegan, IL. If all goes well, the aircraft should be up and flying in time for this summer’s airshow season!

Moonbeam McSwine Reassembly

Moonbeam’s history dates back to October of 1944, when it was manufactured in Inglewood, CA. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, Moonbeam raced in the Reno Air Races. Vlado flew it regularly in the United States Air Force Heritage Flight program (see the video below) before he sold it to Frederic Akary in 2012. Since then, it has been seen regularly at airshows across Europe.

We were fortunate to work with Vlado for many years, and continue to mourn his loss. This tribute is well deserved, and Moonbeam will certainly see many emotional reunions with Vlado’s friends as it returns to the airshow circuit. We look forward to bringing you plenty of photos and videos of this piece of history!

U.S. Pilot Elgin Wells Killed While Practicing for Chinese Airshow

posted in: Airshows | 30

Elgin Wells, known for his “Starjammer” routine was killed when his aerobatic aircraft crashed during a practice flight ahead of the Zhengzhou airshow in Zhengzhou, China.

The crash occurred around 6:14pm local time on Wednesday the 26th of April. An investigation into the cause of the crash is underway.

The Zhengzhou Air Show is scheduled to kick off on Friday, April 27th and last until May 1st. Several airshow performers from the United States are scheduled to perform. In March, Well’s aircraft was shipped to China in preparation for the show.

Wells was a native of the Atlanta, GA area. From the age of 14, he began playing instruments and singing. His band, the “The Elgin Wells Group” won several awards, including the New South Music Award for Best Jazz Band. He has produced 12 albums, mainly in the jazz and blues genre.

He began flying in 1968 at the age of 18. His father, a fighter squadron commander who served in the Pacific during WW2 was a career pilot with delta Airlines. Elgin’s dad wanted him to join the airlines, but all Wells wanted to do was fly aerobatics. In the early 2000s, Elgin was flying Unlimited low level aerobatic competitions and helped lead a team of airshow pilots known as “Airshow Unlimited.”

Starjammer

In 1996, Wells began building the StarJammer, which has 250+ lights and a 4,000 watt amplifier and onboard loudspeakers as a sound system. As the World’s only aircraft of it’s kind, the StarJammer combines aerobatics and music together in one unique performance for both daytime and nighttime airshows.

Photo compliments of Elgin Wells Website

Planes Of Fame Airshow Lawsuit Settled; Popular Event Will Continue

posted in: Airshows, Museums | 1

P-51 Mustang "Spam Can/Dolly" - Planes of Fame Air Museum

The legal dispute between the Planes of Fame Air Museum, the Flying Tigers Aviation FBO, and the Yanks Air Museum has been settled.

The lawsuit, which aimed to end the popular Planes of Fame airshow put on by the museum, was initially filed immediately before the 2017 airshow. Several airport tenant companies alleged that the Planes of Fame Air Museum harmed their businesses by holding the show.

There was strong backlash from the aviation community against the suing companies, especially Yanks. Ultimately the 2017 airshow was allowed to proceed, but the dispute continued with an eye toward the 2018 airshow. Thankfully for aviation fans, all parties have now resolved their differences and pledged to work together to make any future airshows a success.

“We are happy to have reached an agreement so Planes of Fame Air Museum can bring to the aviation community one of the premier aviation events in the United States and the world,” stated Steve Hinton, president of Planes of Fame. “We are pleased that the tradition will continue as many in the aviation community from all over the world look forward to their annual trip to Chino for the air show.”

“Yanks Air Museum has the world’s largest collection of historic all-American aircraft. Yanks was created to share aviation history with everyone and we look forward to displaying and flying the museum’s aircraft at our home in Chino,” said Charles Nichols, founder of Yanks Air Museum.

“I’m glad we have settled the lawsuit and are looking forward to better serving the aviation community. I know with the additional support of Flying Tigers FBO and Yanks Air Museum, it will be the best air show ever and create a win-win for us all,” stated Michael Thayer, president of Flying Tigers.

The 2018 edition of the Planes of Fame Air Show is set for May 5th and 6th, 2018.

Rob Holland Back In The Air After Crash Landing; Will Resume 2018 Airshow Schedule

posted in: Aerobatics | 1

Rob Holland

Airshow pilot and four time consecutive world freestyle champion Rob Holland is ready to take to the skies at airshows across the states again after being reacquainted with an old friend.

Holland has leased his previous MX2 from the current owner, Marty Flournoy. Holland sold the aircraft to Flourney, himself an aerobatic pilot, after acquiring the custom-built MXS-RH that was heavily damaged in a forced landing a few weeks ago.

Rob says this is his way of “moving forward” with the 2018 show season following the incident. The aircraft has already been painted and wrapped in sponsor logos.

You can view Rob Holland’s 2018 show schedule on our forums.

Here’s a video of Rob flying his old MX2 at the 2010 Rockford Airfest.

USAF Thunderbirds Cancel Appearances After Fatal Accident

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 1

Thunderbirds Cancel Shows

Following a crash which killed Thunderbird #4, the team has canceled some upcoming shows.

As of April 6th, the team’s performances at March AFB and Sun ‘n Fun have been canceled. The rest of the season schedule is still to be determined. Canceling shows while the team stands down to investigate the mishap and take time to grieve is standard protocol following crashes.

“Though we are deeply saddened by their loss of a valuable teammate, we totally understand and support the Thunderbirds’ decision. They have a requirement to take the necessary time to assess their current situation and plot a path forward, and we certainly respect their professionalism and diligence in ensuring their safe return to airshows,” said John Leenhouts, SUN ‘n FUN President/CEO.

Leenhouts also confirmed that this year’s daily airshows will include several activities to honor the service of Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, the fallen Thunderbird Number 4, and that a portion of the proceeds from this year’s event will be donated through the proper channels to support the Thunderbird family.

The Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC) and Sun ‘n Fun are working together to bring alternative USAF demonstrations to the event.

In a statement, Airshow Director Greg Gibson said “We appreciate ACC’s efforts on our behalf in such a short timeframe. They are working to make available a potential first-line combat aircraft to perform full aerial displays and/or engage in Heritage Flights with several of the numerous rare WWII fighters we have in attendance this year. We will make periodic announcements throughout the following days as these appearances are confirmed.”

Please visit our forums for further discussion on the crash and what it means for the airshow season.

New Details On Blue Angels’ Fat Albert Replacement Process

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

Fat Albert Replacement Confirmed

In a statement to NewsRadio 1620 in Pensacola, Naval Air Systems Command, commonly known as NavAir, confirmed that they are looking to the Royal Air Force for a replacement for a new Fat Albert.

The new report sheds a little more light on the situation after the original news that the RAF was listed in a contract to replace the current Fat Albert.

The biggest take away from the new post is that acquisition of a C-130J from the Royal Air Force would serve as a permanent replacement for the Blue Angels. The aircraft’s primary role is to transport the team’s equipment, and there is no confirmation yet whether the new C-130J will perform at airshows or not.

“High operational tempo and current in demand nature of Navy assets” was listed as the reason for the Navy looking to the Royal Air Force for a replacement instead of just taking one from the fleet. In addition, the current Fat Albert air frame is “nearing its structural end of life and the United Kingdom MOD C-130J presents an economical solution for its replacement.”

The Royal Air Force currently has a surplus of C-130J models in storage, making them an ideal source of a new Blue Angel support aircraft.

Fat Albert and the rest of the C-130T fleet has been grounded since last summer’s crash of a C-130 in Mississippi that killed all 16 service members. Before that, Bert missed airshows while undergoing an extensive overhaul.

At this time, the acquisition and delivery of the new C-130J is still in the planning stages. It is unknown when the new Fat Albert will be obtained by the team, let alone resume flying. It is also yet to be confirmed that the aircraft will don the famous blue and gold colors once acquired, but the fact that this is a permanent solution is promising.

We may very well be in for an entire show season without Fat Albert. Although disappointing for the fans, it is even harder on the team as they need to rely on other transportation. It may even lead to more broken jets as the team struggles to get spare parts in time to perform.

Stay tuned to AirshowStuff for updates on this developing story, and add your own thoughts in our forums!

Also take a look at the Blue Angels 2018 airshow schedule!

Blue Angels Look To Royal Air Force For Replacement Fat Albert Aircraft

posted in: Jet Teams | 3

Blue Angels Look to RAF for C-130J

“Fat Albert” could soon be traveling with the Blue Angels, thanks in part to the Royal Air Force.

FBO.gov, the Federal Government’s Contracting website posted a contract notice looking for an urgent replacement for the Blue’s current Bert.

The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) intends to negotiate and award a sole source contract with the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MOD), Whitehall, London, United Kingdom for the procurement of one (1) C-130J under the authority of FAR 6.302-1, “Only One Responsible Source and No Other Supplies or Services Will Satisfy Agency Requirements.” The Government requires a suitable replacement aircraft, which must be delivered in an expeditious manner, to avoid a gap in logistical support of the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron. The aircraft being procured from the UK MOD has the requisite amount of life and technical capability to support the Blue Angels mission.

The Blue Angels have been without their famous “Fat Albert” since last summer, when the crash of a KC-130T aircraft grounded the fleet. The Navy and Marine Corp’s fleet of aircraft remain grounded. Recently, the Blue Angels announced new pilots for Fat Albert.

The Royal Air Force currently has a surplus of C-130J models that have been placed in storage.

The acquisition of a new C-130 for the Blue Angels brings several benefits to the squadron. First, it permanently fills a gap left by their current aircraft being grounded. In recent seasons, the team has had to rely on trucks or borrowing a KC-130T (mainly when Bert was undergoing maintenance) to fly in Bert’s place. The second thing a new aircraft offers is a chance to potentially change Bert’s routine.

No timeline has been given for this replacement aircraft, but the fact one is potentially coming is a step forward in this saga of trouble for Bert. Hopefully we’ll see her flying in the skies at an airshow soon!

Add your thoughts on this surprising news in our forums!

See the Blue Angels 2018 schedule

Information from TheDrive.com contributed to this story

Major Changes to 2018 F-35 Lightning II Airshow Schedule

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Military, Schedules | 6

USAF F-35 Lightning II

A recent update to the ACC schedule has removed five shows originally scheduled for 2018. This comes after a few shows were added to the schedule a few weeks ago.

The canceled shows are:
– Myrtle Beach, SC – April 28-29th
– MCAS Cherry Point, NC – May 5-6th
– Seattle, WA SeaFair – Aug 2-5th
– Reno Air Races, Reno, NV – Sept 14-16th
– Ft. Worth, TX – Oct 13-14th

At this time, the reason for the schedule change is unknown. AirshowStuff has reached out to ACC and the F-35 Heritage Flight team for a comment.

With the changes, the F-35 will perform in ten Heritage Flights this year and appear at two international shows as a static display. The team will also make a third, much requested performance at the Royal International Air Tattoo, known to many as RIAT at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, England in mid July.

This news comes after we learned the F-35 would be doing more than ever- adding extra flybys to it’s 2018 performance. In years prior, the aircraft would only takeoff and join up with the other aircraft for the Heritage Flight.

What are your thoughts on the schedule changes? Were you planning to go to any of the canceled shows? Join the discussion on our forums and let us know.

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