Civilian F-5 To Join Heritage Flight Program, Pyro Approved For F-22 And F-35 Demos

posted in: Airshows, Military, Popular Posts | 1

US Air Force Heritage Flight - AirshowStuff

An easy to overlook update from Air Combat Command has yielded some exciting developments with the Air Force’s single-ship demonstration and Heritage Flight programs!

The update in question is the publishing of the 2019 version of the Demo Team Support Manual; a long document which spells out all of the requirements that airshows must meet in order to host the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and A-10 Thunderbolt II demonstration teams during the season. These details are often mundane and invisible to spectators, like the number of required rental cars and mandated access to a 24/7 fitness center, but the manual does give a glimpse at the many factors that need to be carefully considered when planning an event. The 2019 version includes a couple of noteworthy mentions that will be very noticeable to spectators.

First, the Heritage Flight program is being expanded to include a Northrop F-5 fighter jet! The F-5 is an interesting addition because it was primarily exported to US allies and saw only limited USAF service. It will represent the Vietnam War era previously represented by USAF-operated F-4 Phantom IIs, which did not return to the Heritage Flight program after the 2013 sequestration year shut down all military demonstrations and left active service in 2016. This left the A-1 Skyraider as the only approved participant from that time period. F-5s did fly a couple thousand sorties in Vietnam, but certainly are not closely associated with the war.

The pilots in the program meet at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ every year for the Heritage Flight Conference, a weekend practice session to prepare for the upcoming airshow season. Civilian participation in the Heritage Flight is kept under tight control, and only a small group of specially approved pilots are allowed to fly in them, and only in certain aircraft types. Aside from the F-5, only P-51 Mustangs, P-38 Lightnings, P-40 Warhawks, P-47 Thunderbolts, F-86 Sabres, and A-1 Skyraiders are approved. There are several other privately owned fighter jets that could theoretically be included; an F-4 Phantom II flown by the Collings Foundation and a pair of F-100 Super Sabres are the most notable. Sadly, it seems likely that logistics and costs will prevent them from participating any time soon.

An interesting note is that while the F-5 is increasingly flown as a civilian warbird in the US, the US Navy and Marine Corps still actively use versions of the aircraft as aggressors during training and the T-38 Talon advanced trainer that was developed from the F-5 is a mainstay of the Air Force training fleet.

The other interesting takeaway from the support manual update is that pyrotechnics have been approved for use during the F-22 and F-35 demonstrations. The pyro is limited to a wall of fire on the high speed pass only, similar to the limitations already approved for the F-16 demo. The A-10 demo continues to be approved for additional pyro as it includes simulated strafing and bombing attacks in its routine. Most shows do not elect to use pyro with the demos, but it’s great that it will be more available in the future for those that do.

Find out where you can see the USAF single-ship demonstration teams in 2019 by visiting our airshow and aviation event calendar, and share your thoughts about the new F-5 on our forums!

Three Golden Knights Injured In Training Accident; Two In Critical Condition

posted in: Parachute Team | 0

US Army Golden Knights - AirshowStuff

Three members of the US Army Golden Knights parachute team remain hospitalized tonight after they were injured early this morning during a pre-dawn training jump at Homestead ARB near Miami. The incident occurred right around 4am, when two of the soldiers were airlifted and the third was transported by ambulance. Two remain in critical condition and one is in serious condition.

Very little information is being made public pending the notification of families, but ABC 11 in North Carolina obtained a call to 911 describing spinal injuries including “loss of sensation and movement”.

The team is based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but conducts winter training at Homestead prior to each airshow season. Their first performance is scheduled for the end of March. They routinely jump into events at night, and all indications are that they were practicing such a jump when something went wrong.

This is the most serious incident involving the Golden Knights since Sgt. First Class Corey Hood was killed during a performance at the Chicago Air and Water Show in 2015. He collided with a another jumper and lost consciousness before hitting the ground.

Our thoughts go out to the injured jumpers as well as their team mates and families. We hope they make a ful recovery and join us at airshows very soon!

Royal Air Force Red Arrows Announce Initial Schedule For 2019 US And Canada Tour

Royal Air Force Red Arrows - AirshowStuff

The Royal Air Force Red Arrows have released an initial schedule for their highly anticipated 2019 North American Tour!

This is the first visit by the Reds since 2008, when they made several appearances during a short stint in the US and Canada.

The Reds will cross paths with the North American display teams several times; the US Navy Blue Angels in Chicago, New York, and St Louis; the US Air Force Thunderbirds in Atlantic City, and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds in Toronto and Huntington Beach.

The last time a European jet team toured the US and Canada was in 2017, when France’s Patrouille de France came over in March through early May. During that visit, they performed a number of displays and flyovers and stopped at the home bases of both the Blue Angels (NAS Pensacola, FL) and Thunderbirds (Nellis AFB, NV) for photo ops and knowledge exchanges. They even managed to squeeze in a massive photo flight with the Canadian Snowbirds.

Here is the initial schedule as announced today. The release notes that additional appearances will be announced at a later date, so make sure to keep an eye out here for updates and on our airshow calendar for an extensive list of airshows and aviation events, plus other major schedules all listed in one place! You can also check our forums for discussion on the schedule and shows! We also hope you’ll share your own photos and videos of the Reds performances!

RAF Red Arrows 2019 US and Canada Tour Schedule

August 13: Gatineau, QC
August 17-18: 61st Chicago Air and Water Show – Chicago, IL
August 21: Thunder Over the Boardwalk – Atlantic City, NJ
August 24-25: New York Air Show – New Windsor, NY
August 31-September 1: Canadian International Airshow – Toronto, ON

September 7-8: Spirit of St. Louis Air Show & STEM Expo – St. Louis, MO
September 20-22: Oregon International Air Show – Hillsboro, OR

October 4-6: The Great Pacific Airshow – Huntington Beach, CA

Here is the full press release released today, emphasis ours:

A list of locations where people can see the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team display during a major tour of North America has been released.

The confirmed displays include appearances by the Red Arrows in Canada and on both the east and west coasts of the United States, with more events expected to be announced in the weeks to come.

Speaking from Nellis Air Base, Nevada, UK Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said:

“I am delighted people all over the US and Canada will be able to see our world-famous Red Arrows in action.

“Previous tours have generated huge amounts of investment for the UK, and we hope the team lighting up the skies of two of our closest defence allies will bring more of the same.”

The team will fly to North America for the Western Hawk 19 tour this summer, expecting to arrive in Canada on August 8.

The display locations in Canada and the US where the Red Arrows are confirmed as performing in 2019.
Display locations confirmed for the forthcoming tour to North America by the Red Arrows.
During the deployment – which will be the largest to the region in a generation – the Red Arrows will help to support a range of British interests and promote trade and cooperation, as part of the United Kingdom’s prosperity agenda.

As well as displaying at locations and shows across North America, the team will also attend several engagements on the ground, coordinated by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the UK Government’s GREAT campaign.

The first locations being confirmed for where the Red Arrows will display are:

RAF Red Arrows 2019 North American Tour - AirshowStuff

Ottawa – Gatineau-Ottawa Airshow
Chicago – Air and Water Show
Atlantic City – Thunder Over The Boardwalk
New York – New York Airshow, Stewart International
Toronto – Canadian International Airshow
St. Louis – Spirit of St. Louis Airshow & STEM Expo
Portland-Hillsboro – The Oregon International Airshow
Los Angeles (Huntington Beach) – The Great Pacific Airshow
Other public events, display locations and flypasts are still to be set, with engagement opportunities planned from coast-to-coast. Further announcements will follow as confirmations are made.

The Red Arrows are renowned as one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams, having performed almost 5,000 times in 57 countries since 1965.

Flying nine BAE Systems Hawk fast-jets, the team showcases the excellence of the Royal Air Force and demonstrates the global reach and capability of the Service, together with representing the best of British at home and overseas.

Previous tours by the Red Arrows, including to the Middle and Far East, have helped generate important investment and sales for the UK across a range of sectors.

UK International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said:

“The Red Arrows have a rich tradition of working with the GREAT Britain Campaign and DIT to promote trade, investment, tourism and education, all while presenting a positive impression of the UK.

“Their tour of North America will provide an invaluable opportunity to deepen the partnership with some of our closest allies and trading partners.

“It will include an integrated programme of trade missions and business engagement, involving both the display team and ground crew, and build on the experience of previous tours to provide even stronger support for our business objectives.”

A visually-exciting display is promised by the Red Arrows during a tour to North America.

Preparations are already being carried out to create a memorable and visually-exciting display to be enjoyed by people watching throughout the latest deployment.

Squadron Leader Martin Pert, Red 1 and Team Leader of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, said:

“Confirming this initial group of display locations where we will perform in North America is not just exciting for those people hoping to attend these events – but also for the whole Red Arrows team as well.

“Air and ground crews are now hard at work, preparing the display which will be seen by audiences in the UK, US and Canada this summer, while detailed planning is well underway to carefully, and safely, plot our overseas tour.

With these airshows announced, we can now join friends and fans alike in visualising what people will be able to enjoy when the Red Arrows make our biggest ever visit to the US and Canada. – Red 1

“However, the air display is only half the story – much of our activity in support of UK interests overseas is centred on considerable ground engagement. As a team, we are particularly enthusiastic about meeting so many individuals, from business leaders and military counterparts to young people and airshow crowds.”

After displaying at the Royal International Air Tattoo, between July 19 and July 21, in the UK, the Red Arrows will undertake a short period of maintenance and preparation before departing for North America.

Blue Angels Release 2019 Pensacola Practice Schedule

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 1

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

The US Navy Blue Angels have released their 2019 Pensacola practice schedule!

Although the team travels the country during the year, they return home to NAS Pensacola in Florida most weeks. In order to stay proficient in their demanding routine, they traditionally fly practice performances over the base on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during airshow season (March through November). Look below for their planned practice dates, but keep in mind that these can and do change as the year progresses due to things like weather or other circumstances. We will do our best to keep the list updated here and on our forums, but we can only pass on information as it is released.

Also be sure to check our airshow calendar for an extensive list of airshows and aviation events in the US and Canada, including all of the Blue Angel performances scheduled for 2019!

Practices typically begin at 11:30 am central time and last about 55 minutes. Public viewing is available at the National Naval Aviation Museum at no cost. The outside viewing area for the Blue Angels practice is located on the museum’s flight line north of the museum. Signs are posted to direct visitors to viewing and parking locations, including limited parking for handicapped visitors. Open bleacher seating is available and seats 1,000 people. A limited quantity of chairs are available for a fee of $3 per chair, good for that day’s practice session. Concessions (bottled water, sport drinks, light food, and treats) and merchandise are also available. Chair service, concessions, and merchandise are provided by the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and proceeds support the museum and foundation programs.

A valid ID is required for all visitors 16 and over to gain access to the museum flight line. Backpacks, daypacks, and other similar items are not allowed on the flight line.

2019 Blue Angels Pensacola Practice Schedule

MARCH 27 (Orientation flight only; not an actual flight demonstration)
APRIL 2, 3*, 9, 10*, 16, 17*, 18, 19, 23, 24*, 30
MAY 1*, 7, 14, 15*, 28, 29*
JUNE 4, 5*, 11, 12, 18, 19*, 20, 21, 25, 26*
JULY 2, 3, 16
AUGUST 7*, 8, 9, 13, 14, 20
SEPTEMBER 4*, 10, 11*, 12, 13, 17
OCTOBER 16*, 22, 23*, 29, 30*
NOVEMBER 5, 6, 7 (Practices are at 2:30pm for End of Season Week)

*Denotes autograph session following the practice inside the National Naval Aviation Museum.

Again, practices may be canceled due to weather or other circumstances without notice. Please contact the museum for last minute information.

Former Blue Angel Explains Super Hornet Transition Plans, Talks New Routine

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 2

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

We now know a lot more about the US Navy Blue Angelscoming transition to the F/A-18E Super Hornet thanks to former Blue Angel #1 Captain Ryan Bernacchi. He spoke to Newsradio 1620 in the team’s hometown of Pensacola, FL recently, and explained not only the difference between the team’s current F/A-18 “Legacy” Hornets and the coming Super Hornets, but also the current status of the transition.

Bernacchi started by explaining why the transition is going forward in the first place. When the Blues began flying Hornets in the late ’80s, significant engineering work was done to modify the jet for airshows. This work applied to the A and B model Hornets. More recently, similar work was done to prepare some older C and D model Hornets for shows as well. These modifications include things like the smoke system and the ability to fly inverted for longer than a stock jet. Although the team has continued to fly these older jets, they are aging and relatively few usable airframes remain eligible for the already approved modifications. In response, the Blues were forced to look at either pursuing younger Legacy Hornets or transitioning to Super Hornets.

Their findings are very interesting. Bernacchi says that even though the Legacy Hornets are now retired from active Navy service – the final operational flight was February 1st – the vast majority of the youngest airframes are earmarked for service with the Marine Corps and Navy Reserves. A middle group of airframes from production lots 13 and 14 were available to the team, but had enough differences from the team’s current aircraft that they required a similar engineering effort for airshow modifications. Surprisingly, the end conclusion was that it would cost roughly the same amount to transition to anything newer than the team’s existing jets, whether moving to newer Legacy Hornets or Super Hornets! The final decision to go to Super Hornets was made this past December.

Here’s a video showing Legacy Hornets and Super Hornets flying side by side:

So when can we look forward to new jets in the distinctive blue and gold paint scheme? Bernacchi says that the current plan is to have 11 modified Super Hornets – early production models that never saw operational service – ready for winter training at the end of 2020. They would debut in the spring of 2021. This matches the preliminary 2020 airshow schedule released by the Blues, which is notable for ending a month earlier than usual. We speculated that this was to allow extra time for the off-season transition, and that appears to be the case.

Bernacchi is also quick to point out that this project will take a backseat to maintaining and upgrading the frontline force, so it may slip due to potential budget cuts or other difficulties. The team can continue performing in their current jets for some time if it does get pushed back, but he was careful to emphasize that the new jets are not combat-ready models and they are not coming from any combat units.

What will the show look like after the transition? Bernacchi and former Blue Angel solo pilot Cdr. Frank “Walleye” Weisser spent time at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland analyzing the aircraft’s capabilities and fit for the team. His verdict after flying maneuvers in a simulator and in real life is that it will work well for the team, but it will require some adjustments. One maneuver – which Bernacchi did not name – is likely to be modified or dropped, but he feels some others will look better than they do now.

One proposal is for the diamond and solos to each drop one maneuver in order to streamline the show and improve the flow during the routine. This would shorten the show slightly, but even just three minutes per flight spread over ten performances (including practices) a week adds up to dozens of hours of airframe time saved each year. Bernacchi says that in addition to vetting the aircraft systems for potential failures, they spent a great deal of time looking into other factors of aircraft fatigue like how certain maneuvers and rejoins are flown. Although he did not go into specifics, he said they came up with a plan to substantially reduce the fatigue impact on the airframes, which will extend their lives with the team.

What do you think the mystery maneuver is? Feel free to take a guess and add your thoughts on the transition in our forums! Also make sure to visit our airshow calendar to see where you can watch a Blue Angels performance in 2019 and 2020.

New Photo Album – EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

Ghostwriter Airshows at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 - AirshowStuff

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! This album is from EAA AirVenture 2018 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Check it out here: EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 – Ryan Sundheimer

Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!

BREAKING: US Navy Blue Angels Pilot Suffers Landing Mishap In El Centro

posted in: Jet Teams | 2

US Navy Blue Angels F-18 Hornet - AirshowStuff

An unnamed pilot of the US Navy Blue Angels was thankfully uninjured after a landing mishap at NAF El Centro today. The pilot was landing at the base when the aircraft’s main landing gear failed to extend properly. The pilot was able to make an emergency landing with the F-18 Hornet without injuring himself or anyone on the ground.

The incident is under investigation.

The Blue Angels are in the middle of their winter training period at El Centro. They use the base for their training flights every year because the remote location and good weather allow for excellent training conditions. Their airshow season is scheduled to start in March.

This incident should not impact the season, although they have struggled with aircraft availability in recent years after several major incidents grounded some of the jets assigned to the team. Depending on how severe the damage to the aircraft is, it may be grounded for some time.

The team will be transitioning to F/A-18E Super Hornets in the coming years, although no firm timetable for the change has been announced yet.

This is a breaking story with few details immediately available. We will bring you more information as it becomes known. You can join the discussion and look for more info in our forums.

New Photo Album – Airshow London 2018

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

A-10 Warthog at Airshow London 2018 - AirshowStuff

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! This album is from Airshow London 2018 in London, Ontario. Check it out here: Airshow London 2018 – Ryan Sundheimer

Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!

Lethbridge Airshow Postponed To Summer Of 2020

posted in: Airshows | 0

Lethbridge International Airshow - AirshowStuff

The next Lethbridge International Airshow will not take place until 2020. The event, last held in 2017, traditionally takes place every other year, but organizers decided that several factors made a 2019 show unworkable. They announced the change yesterday.

One of the factors is the passing of long-time show volunteer and board member Brent Botfield. Lethbridge also did not appear on any major military performer schedules, including the Snowbirds and CF-18 Hornet demonstration team. By holding the event in August next year, organizers feel they’ll have a better shot at landing major acts.

Lethbridge was generous enough to welcome us to their 2017 show, and we look forward to working with them in 2020!

Set Your Airshow Plans With Our New Airshow/Aviation Event Calendar

posted in: Airshows, Popular Posts, Schedules | 1

Looking to plan your airshow schedule in 2019? AirshowStuff is happy to unveil our new calendar of airshows and aviation events in the US and Canada!

This calendar combines the major military/jet team schedules and other known events into a single list for easy browsing and comparison. You can use the filters to search by date, event name, location, state, country, or featured performer. We have also included links to event discussion threads on our forums, so you can get more information or ask questions about attending. If a thread doesn’t already exist for an event you want to discuss, please create one!

We hope that the new calendar will help both hardcore avgeeks and casual fans to find and connect with events near them. The calendar currently includes over 180 events in 2019 as well as preliminary 2020 airshow dates for the US Navy Blue Angels and US Air Force Thunderbirds. You can get to the calendar at any time through the button on the blue navigation bar at the top of this page.

We will be updating the calendar as schedules inevitably change throughout the year. If you see any incorrect information, or know of an aviation event that we have not included, please let us know through the forums, e-mail, or through our social media channels!

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