Major Changes to 2018 F-35 Lightning II Airshow Schedule

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Military, Schedules | 3

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.

Thunderbirds Are Go For 2018 Daytona 500 Flyover

posted in: Flyovers, Jet Teams | 2

US Air Force Thunderbirds

The US Air Force Thunderbirds are set to perform the flyover for NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Florida this Sunday. This will be the team’s first public performance with their new leader, Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh.

The race will be broadcast on FOX at 2:30 PM Eastern time on Sunday, February 18th. Fans near Daytona Beach will likely see the jets flying around earlier in the weekend as well, as they practice (9-10am on Saturday) and take VIPs for media flights.

Flying over the race is somewhat of a tradition for the Thunderbirds, who use the trip as a warm up for their intense travel schedule during the regular airshow season. The team’s first full airshow performance is scheduled for March 24 and 25 in Melbourne, FL.

Snowbirds Change 2018 Schedule To Add Airshow London Performances

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 0

Canadian Forces Snowbirds

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will once again soar over London, Ontario this September. Organizers of Airshow London announced today that the team has added the show to their 2018 schedule and will perform on September 7, 8, and 9.

London is one of Canada’s largest airshows and it was quite surprising that it did not appear on the original 2018 schedule for the Snowbirds. The team instead planned to perform in Mont-Joli, Quebec that weekend instead. We have very little information on that event and do not know if it will be held now or not.

We have updated our copy of the 2018 Canadian Forces Snowbirds schedule to reflect the change. Please make sure to follow our forums to stay up to date as it continues to change throughout the year!

Blue Angels Add “New” F/A-18B Hornet To Squadron

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

US Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet

The Blue Angels have a new jet in their squadron! The Blues announced Friday that they’ve taken acquisition of BUNO 162419, a two-seat F/A-18B Hornet.

While this jet is new to the team, it is not new to the fleet. All of the US Navy Blue Angels aircraft are former fleet aircraft. Pictures online show that this particular jet once served with VX-23, the “Salty Dogs”, at NAS Patuxent River, VA. The jet is now painted up in the Blue’s famous blue and gold paint scheme. It will likely be used as a #7 media/backup jet once fully integrated into the team.

Blue Angels Receive New Jet

This new jet comes at a good time as the team was plagued by maintenance issues during the 2017 show season. Even with the best maintainers in the Navy, the team was only able to field five flyable jets at several shows over the summer months. They simply did not have enough aircraft in the squadron.

Further compounding the problem was the grounding of Fat Albert following a crash of a Marine KC-130 in July, which grounded the type. Part of Fat Albert’s role is to quickly retrieve equipment and replacement parts, but with Bert grounded the Blues had to rely on slower methods of getting parts for their jets.

Eventually the team will transition to F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets, but that is still probably a couple years off. In the mean time, 162419 will help them thrill spectators everywhere they go!

Blue Angels Release 2018 Pensacola Practice Schedule

posted in: Jet Teams, Schedules | 15

US Navy Blue Angels Release Practice Schedule for 2018

The US Navy Blue Angels have released their 2018 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 the 2018 Blue Angels airshow schedule to see where else they’ll be performing!

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.

2018 Blue Angels Pensacola Practice Schedule
March 27th
March 28th*
March 29th
March 30th (9am-10am)

April 3rd
April 4th
April 10th
April 11th*
April 17th
April 18th*
April 24th
April 25th*

May 1st
May 2nd*
May 8th
May 9th*
May 15th
May 16th*
May 17th
May 18th (9am-10am)
May 29th

June 5th
June 20th*
June 26th

July 3rd
July 5th
July 6th (9am-10am)
July 11th
July 17th
July 18th*
July 24th

August 15th*
August 21st
August 22nd*
August 28th
August 29th*

September 5th*
September 6th
September 7th (9am-10am)
September 11th
September 12th*
September 18th
September 25th*

October 17th*
October 23rd
October 24th*
October 30th
October 31st

November 1st
November 2nd

*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.

Florida’s Melbourne Air And Space Show Changes 2018 Dates, Retains Thunderbirds As Headliner

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 4

USAF Thunderbirds - Opposing Pass

The Melbourne Air and Space Show announced today that they have changed dates from March 17-18 to March 24-25. Organizers say that they decided to change dates in order to keep the US Air Force Thunderbirds as headliners.

The move is not entirely unexpected, as the two other airshows that originally planned to have the Thunderbirds in March also went on to change their plans.

First, Wings Over Atlanta at Dobbins ARB in Georgia canceled their March 24-25 show citing financial reasons. Then, the Luke Days airshow at Luke AFB in Arizona changed dates from March 10-11 to March 17-18 and picked up a commitment from the US Navy Blue Angels to replace the Thunderbirds as the headlining act.

This left Melbourne as the sole March appearance by the Thunderbirds, with an open weekend before and after. Now that they have slipped back to the original Wings Over Atlanta dates, they represent the first airshow of the Thunderbirds’ 2018 season.

All of this schedule churn is extremely unusual, but likely a result of the equally unusual dismissal and replacement of former Thunderbird #1, Lt. Col. Jason Heard after the 2017 season. The new Thunderbird #1, Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, had not previously flown the demonstration and it is not surprising that he would require extra practice time to learn the profile. In fact, we speculated that this might end up happening at the time of the announcement. These schedule moves give the team an extra two weeks of training time, and by reconfirming their Melbourne appearance for March 24th, they seem confident that it will be enough.

Luke Days 2018 Airshow Changes Dates; Secures New Jet Team

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 8

US Navy Blue Angels

Luke Air Force Base confirmed today that their 2018 airshow will be getting not only new dates, but a new headliner as well. The Luke Days 2018 event will now be held on March 17-18 instead of March 10-11.

The new dates were necessary in order to secure the US Navy Blue Angels as the main attraction. It will be their first time appearing at Luke since 1992, and fills a previously open weekend on their schedule. Base Public Affairs has told us that the rest of the lineup will remain the same.

The US Air Force Thunderbirds display team was scheduled to perform on the original dates, but they are currently scheduled to be in Melbourne, FL on the 17th and 18th and will not be able to perform at Luke. However, this news only adds to rumors that the team will be extending their winter training period in order to train up the new #1 pilot.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh took over as Thunderbird #1 in December following the surprise dismissal of the previous squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jason Heard. Although Walsh served as Thunderbird #7 for two years before being placed in charge of the squadron, he came into the role with no experience flying the demonstration. At the time, we speculated that the sudden change in lead pilot could mandate additional training time.

The move by Luke to cancel on the Thunderbirds is an extremely unusual one, and the simplest explanation is that the Thunderbirds notified Luke that their planned appearance was either in question or written off altogether. This makes even more sense since the Wings Over Atlanta airshow at Dobbins AFB in Georgia, another March show that expected to host the Thunderbirds, announced their cancelation earlier this month. The uncertainty of a jet team appearance could certainly lead to the financial concerns that they cited as the cause.

Ultimately this is all speculation at this point, as there has been no official announcement made regarding the Thunderbirds changing their schedule; everything has come from the shows themselves. The Melbourne Air and Space Show is now the only remaining March appearance for the Thunderbirds, so it will be telling whether they make any announcements regarding the team.

As always, we welcome your own thoughts and comments on this topic in our forums, where you can also see the remainder of the USAF Thunderbirds 2018 schedule as well as the 2018 airshow schedule for the US Navy Blue Angels!

US Navy Blue Angels Delta Flyover Planned For San Diego This Week

posted in: Flyovers, Jet Teams | 2

US Navy Blue Angels Delta Formation

Heads up San Diego! The US Navy Blue Angels will be performing a delta formation flyover this Thursday during a Change of Command ceremony for the Commander of Naval Air Forces (CNAF). Naval Base Coronado shared the news on Facebook earlier today. The six blue and gold jets will fly over Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island at approximately 10:10am on Thursday, January 11th. Check out the graphic below for a better idea of their flight path.

US Navy Blue Angels San Diego Flyover Route

The Blue Angels are working through their 2018 winter training period at NAF El Centro in California, about 90 miles from San Diego. You can find their full 2018 airshow schedule in our forums!

Blue Angels Return To El Centro For 2018 Winter Training Period

posted in: Jet Teams | 7

Blue Angels Return for Winter Training

The Blue Angels have returned to their winter home at Naval Air Facility El Centro in California!

The team flew into the base, located about 87 miles east of San Diego, on January 3rd. They’ll remain at El Centro throughout January, February, and early March, flying several flights a day to perfect the demonstration.

The 10 week, 120 flight period will begin over the desert adjacent to El Centro; once the team feels confident in the demonstration they will begin to fly over the airfield.

This year marks the 51st year the team will use El Centro as their winter training base. The usually calm and warm weather of the Imperial Valley makes southern CA the perfect place for the Blue Angel’s winter training.

The 2018 season will be the Blue Angels’ 72nd show season. We have a copy of their 2018 airshow season schedule here on the blog – see if they’ll be performing near you!

One important member of the team will not be joining the rest of the aircraft though; Fat Albert, the team’s C-130 Hercules transport, has been grounded during an investigation into the crash of a Marine Corps C-130 last summer. A post on Instagram shows her in the maintenance hangar for an inspection. Bert’s Marine pilots typically practice their routine during their own winter training period at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona.

USAF Thunderbirds Announce New Commanding Officer For 2018 Season

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

US Air Force Thunderbirds

The US Air Force Thunderbirds have a new commanding officer! The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Holmes, has selected Lt. Col. Kevin “Lowen” Walsh to lead the team in 2018. Lt. Col. Walsh was already serving as the interim CO of the famed demonstration squadron following the unexpected dismissal of the previous team leader, Lt. Col. Jason Heard late last month.

USAF Thunderbirds - Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh

Walsh served as Thunderbird #7, the team’s Operations Officer, during the 2016 and 2017 seasons and was due to leave the team this winter as his tour concluded. He will now take over the second year of Lt. Col. Heard’s planned two year tour before a new “Boss” is selected in 2019.

We welcome Lt. Col. Walsh (back) to the team and look forward to seeing him fly in 2018!

Here is the full text of the Air Force press release:

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Holmes, has officially selected the officer who will lead the United States Air Force Thunderbirds for the 2018 demonstration season.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh will become Thunderbird No. 1, the squadron’s commander and lead pilot. As the twofold duty title implies, his responsibilities will include commanding a force of more than 130 enlisted personnel and 11 commissioned officers assigned to the Thunderbirds, along with leading all demonstration flights.

Walsh, a 2002 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., just completed his second season with the team as Thunderbird No. 7, the squadron’s Operations Officer.

“Kevin’s extensive flying experience and rapport within the Thunderbirds makes him a perfect fit to command the team,” said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander. “I have full faith he will lead the team through a successful 2018 show season.”

Walsh is a graduate of the USAF Weapons School and has logged over 2,600 hours of flight time with more than 500 hours of combat pilot experience.

2018 will mark the Thunderbirds’ 65th season as the Air Force’s premier jet demonstration team, entrusted with the vital mission to recruit, retain and inspire across the nation while representing the outstanding men and women serving in the United States Air Force around the world.

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