Offutt AFB Cancels 2019 Airshow After Devastating Flooding

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Offutt AFB Nebraska Flooding - March 2019 - AirshowStuff
Photo by US Stratcom / Twitter

The 2019 Defenders of Freedom Air & Space Show at Offutt Air Force Base has been canceled. The event was scheduled for June 1-2 and would have been headlined by the US Air Force Thunderbirds.

The base announced the cancellation today, in the midst of absolutely devastating floods that have taken over much of the base’s footprint and the surrounding area. Offutt is located just outside of Omaha, Nebraska, near the Missouri River. It is home to the US Strategic Command and plays a critical role in overseeing the country’s strategic forces, including nuclear forces. As many as 30 buildings on base were reportedly damaged, though thankfully the residential part of the installation is at a higher elevation.

Four people have died due to the floods so far, and thousands have been forced from their homes. The rebuilding effort will be massive, and it makes complete sense that the personnel stationed there will not be up for hosting a large public event in just a few months time. We wish them the best in the long road ahead.

There is no word yet on how this will impact the USAF Thunderbirds’ 2019 airshow schedule or where else the team might perform that weekend instead, but we will update our airshow calendar with that information when it becomes available.

Here is the full statement from the base:

The 2019 Defenders of Freedom Air & Space Show has been cancelled.

While the 55th Wing and our partner units are fully mission-capable, the recent flooding event affecting much of Nebraska has made hosting this year’s annual event untenable.

“The scope of this historic disaster has touched nearly every aspect of Nebraska including Offutt Air Force Base,” Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, said. “Assessing the impact to the base is ongoing and we will recover, but it is obvious it will be some time before we can return to normal operations or have the capacity to host an event like an air show and open house. We sincerely enjoy opening our gates to the public and appreciate the tremendous support we get from Bellevue, Omaha and the surrounding communities and are committed to continuing the open house and air show at the next available opportunity.”

No dates for future Defenders of Freedom shows have been set at this time. Anyone who has purchased premium “Flight Deck” seating will receive a full refund and no action is required by the purchasers.

For more information, call the 55th Wing Public Affairs office at (402) 294-3663.

Blue Angels Set To Kick Off 2019 Airshow Season This Weekend

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US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

The 2019 US airshow season will kick into high gear this weekend when the Blue Angels perform at NAF El Centro in California. The team has been at the base for months, flying the 120 practice flights that make up their winter training syllabus.

We visited El Centro last week to get a look at the team, and you can watch one of their full practices below. Unfortunately the winds prevented us from catching the usual jaw dropping low takeoff, but it’s still a rare treat to watch a performance from the end of the runway, on the 1500-foot show line! Listen to the radio comms in the video to hear the wind callouts at various points during the routine.

We have also heard that the team’s famous C-130 Hercules “Fat Albert” has been spotted flying demonstrations in practice, but there is no official word from the team as to her status during the season. Previously, rumors held that they do not plan to fly demonstrations this year as they work to preserve airframe hours until the planned purchase and acquisition of a C-130J from the Royal Air Force is finalized.

Fat Albert performances have been sporadic and rare since 2016, when corrosion issues were discovered that lead to the aircraft being sidelined for a months-long overhaul period. Less than a month after resuming performances in July of 2017, a Marine Corps KC-130 crashed in Louisiana, killing 16. The crash investigation discovered widespread problems with the propellers, and Fat Albert was again grounded, along with the rest of the C-130T fleet.

Bert resumed transportation duties with the team in mid-2018, but did not really perform. Flying the demonstration profile requires a significant investment in training time, so if the crew is flying practice demonstrations now, it seems all but certain that at least a few will be performed in 2019. Of course, they may be extremely limited, rare treats for the home town crowds in El Centro and Pensacola.

For their part, the US Air Force Thunderbirds have been busy with their own winter training as well as several high profile flyovers of the Super Bowl, Daytona 500, and the premiere of the new Captain Marvel movie. The movie is special because it includes a number of tributes to fallen Thunderbird pilot Major Stephen Del Bagno. They open their show season next weekend at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ.

Of course, there are many airshows without jet teams and those are kicking into high gear as well. We attended the MCAS Yuma Airshow last weekend, and the Space Coast Warbird Airshow in Titusville, FL will be taking place this weekend.

Want to know where you can see the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, and other major performers in 2019? Head over to our airshow calendar and search for events near you!

US Air Force Heritage Flights Will Be Longer This Airshow Season

posted in: Airshows, Military, Popular Posts, Warbirds | 0

USAF Heritage Flight - P-38 Lightning and A-10 Thunderbolt II - AirshowStuff

The US Air Force Heritage Flight routine will have a new look in 2019!

Air Combat Command’s single-ship demonstration teams (F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and A-10 Thunderbolt II) and civilian Heritage Flight pilots just wrapped up their annual Heritage Flight Conference practice session at Davis-Monthan AFB. During the conference, they flew dozens of Heritage Flight routines in all sorts of combinations of modern jets and vintage warbirds. As if a new aircraft type being added to the program wasn’t exciting enough, an extended routine was teased on social media, and we can confirm that the flights included more formation flybys than in previous years.

The old routine consisted of three formation passes; the formation would arc in for a right to left photo pass, turn around for a left to right flat pass, then come from behind and over the crowd before splitting apart for individual flybys, affectionately known as “zoomies”. You can see it in the video below.

The new routine has two extra passes; it starts with the same photo pass, but the formation now swings out a little wider and arcs away from the crowd, presenting a belly view of the aircraft. They continue the turn to their left and fly head on to the crowd, passing overhead and then turning around for an original left to right flat pass, with the normal overhead pass, break, and zoomies.

The video below shows the new routine, but from an unusual perspective – across from the crowd and at far show left. Note the exceptional combination of aircraft; a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, North American F-86 Sabre, and a US Air Force F-22 Raptor. Stay tuned for many more videos of the Heritage Flights flown at the conference, and further coverage during the 2019 airshow season!

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!

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 | 6

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.

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!

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

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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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