ICAS Announces 2018 Airshow Award Winners

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Several stars of the airshow industry took home top honors at this year’s annual International Council of Airshows Convention in Las Vegas, NV.

SWORD OF EXCELLENCE

Julie Clark, known best for her patriotic red, white and blue T-34 act was awarded the Sword of Excellence, the airshow industry’s highest honor. This award is presented to a member who exemplifies outstanding service and personal contributions to the industry. The selection committee for the award is made up of a member of the board of directors, two past award recipients and two at-large members with at least 10 years of airshow experience.

A pilot for more than 45 years and a retired Northwest Airlines captain, Clark is rated in more than 66 types of aircraft. Her T-34 Mentor, named “Free Spirit”, is an icon of the industry and the center piece of her patriotic act with red, white, and blue smoke along with ground launched fireworks.

Clark, age 70, has previously won the Crystal Eagle award presented by the Aero Club of Northern California, and she was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2016.

Also taking home the Sword of Excellence in 2018 was European Airshow Council Board Chairman Gilbert Buekenberghs. For the past 30 years, Gilbert has helped form and build the European Airshow Council, which is the sister organization to ICAS in Europe and North Africa. ICAS said that “from meeting planner, safety advocate and goodwill ambassador to publisher, politician and publicist, he did all that was necessary to build the EAC into an organization delivering significant benefits to its members and changing forever the trajectory of the entire European air show business.”

Clark and Buekenberghs are the 45th and 46th recipients of the awards since its inception.

ART SCHOLL MEMORIAL SHOWMANSHIP AWARD

The Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship award is given to an airshow act or performer that best exemplifies the qualities of showmanship demonstrated by Art Scholl. Scholl was a long-time and active ICAS member, known for his airshow performances but also for his many appearances in motion picture films, documentaries, and television commercials. Scholl died while filming such a flying sequence for the movie “Top Gun” off the coast of California in 1985.

The 2018 recipients were the Darnell family, for their innovations in the airshow industry through their jet powered vehicles. With a fleet that includes Shockwave, Aftershock and the Flash Fire Pickups, their jet acts have been seen by millions across the nation over the years. Neal, Chris, Marilyn, and Brooke Darnell were lauded for the multi-dimensional entertainment experience they bring to air shows, as well as their consistency, reliability, and professionalism.

2018 BOB HOOVER WINGMAN AWARD

Sue Gardner was presented with the Bob Hoover Wingman Award during the Chairman’s Banquet in recognition of her work as the FAA’s national aviation events specialist and principal policy liaison with the US air show community. As part of Sue’s job, she works with the industry to help establish a partnership between the FAA and the airshow community to help improve airshow safety without adding additional regulatory burden.

Specifically, the award presentation remarks noted her efforts to return air show aircraft to the air following the terrorist attacks of September, 2001, her contribution to efforts to harmonize US and Canadian air show policy, her commitment to institutionalizing the prohibition on aerobatic energy directed at the crowd, the major role she played in two major rewrites of FAA air show policy, and the collaborative approach she has brought to her position as national aviation events specialist.

2018 DICK SCHRAM MEMORIAL AWARD RECIPIENT

The MacDill Air Force Base open house was named the recipient of the Dick Schram Memorial Community Relations Award for the work that it did to combine a regional Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) Fair with its annual open house.

MacDill displayed 50 different STEAM exhibits for 1,300 students from 29 different schools on the Friday before their weekend show. Additionally, less than half the overall air show is now funded using government appropriated funds, due to a unique and successful partnership with local businesses.

The award is presented in honor of Dick Schram, a former Blue Angel who was an engaged member of the air show community before passing away unexpectedly in 1987. The award has now been presented to 30 different military facilities to recognize and showcase the work that they have done in using their air shows and open houses to strengthen relationships in the communities where the bases are located.

Walt Pierce Wingwalking Stearman - AirshowStuff

INDUCTIONS INTO THE AIR SHOW HALL OF FAME

The ICAS Foundation Air Show Hall of Fame welcomed event organizer Terry Grevious and performer Walt Pierce as its 66th and 67th members during ceremonies at the ICAS Convention.

Grevious helped launch the Muskegon Air Fair in 1984 and turned it into one of the most successful air shows in North America before assuming leadership of the Dayton Air Show in Dayton, Ohio. Grevious was cited for his innovation, strong management skills, and professionalism.

Walt Pierce was a well-respected wing walking pilot who performed all over the US and Canada in his Stearman biplane. He was recognized for his skills as an aviator and his professionalism during a career that began in the 1960s.

Congrats to all the 2018 award winners!

George H. W. Bush To Be Buried In Blue Angel Socks As Eternal Tribute To Navy Service

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TBM Avenger "George Bush" - AirshowStuff

When former President George H. W. Bush is buried this week, the US Navy Blue Angels will be with him. On his socks.

The 41st President was well known for his love of colorful socks, often using them to make a statement or support a cause. Bush’s spokesman Jim McGrath shared this image on Twitter of the final pair of socks, which feature the iconic Blue Angel delta formation, with smoke on, against a blue sky. Also featured are the Wings of Gold that signify a naval aviator.


It’s entirely fitting that Bush will represent the Navy in his grave. After all, he flew 58 combat missions in TBM Avenger torpedo bombers for the US Navy in World War II. He was shot down during an attack mission in 1944 and rescued by a submarine. The final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier to enter Navy service, CVN-77, is named for him.

He was made an Honorary Blue Angel in 2014.


Aviation continued to play a part in Bush’s life until the very end. The code-word used by family and friends to privately share news of his death was “CAVU”, an aviation acronym for ‘ceiling and visibility unlimited’ that signifies weather that presents no restrictions on flying.

Bush’s legacy as a naval aviator will live on; at least two civilian-owned TBM Avengers bear his name as part of their paint schemes.

Vintage Airliner Crashes After Abbotsford Int’l Airshow

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Historic Flight Foundation's DH.89 Dragon Rapide

A vintage aircraft crashed after the Abbotsford International Airshow on Saturday. The vintage biplane, a de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide operated by the Historic Flight Foundation, was reportedly attempting to take off with a load of paying passengers Saturday evening when it experienced trouble and came down hard near the runway. At least five passengers were hurt and transported to hospitals, two via air ambulance. One person had to be freed from the wreckage.

The flight was not part of the airshow itself, and took place after the performances had concluded for the day. Photos from the scene show the aircraft sitting with its nose in the dirt.

The aircraft is a vintage airliner from the 1930s, constructed largely of wood and fabric as was common at the time. It is a very recent addition to the Historic Flight Foundation’s collection. The HFF is based at Paine Field north of Seattle and operates a number of vintage aircraft including a Douglas DC-3, P-51 Mustang, and Supermarine Spitfire.

As usual, we have more information about the airshow and the incident on our forums.

Historic Flight Foundation's DH.89 Dragon Rapide

Update: Here is the full press release from the airshow, which states much of what we already know and adds the the airshow will continue as planned Sunday.

At 5:30 pm, shortly after the Airshow ended, Abbotsford International Airshow officials were notified of a crash on the Abbotsford International Airport runway. A 1930’s era biplane (deHaviland Dragon Rapide) crashed shortly after takeoff.

The occupants of the aircraft include the pilot and four adult passengers. All five on board have been taken to hospital by BC Ambulance Service by both air and road; three with non-life threatening injuries, one serious and one critical.

As the Abbotsford International Airshow has just completed for the day, many emergency resources were already in place and able to respond immediately.

The crash investigation is in the preliminary stages, and will be conducted by the Transportation Safety Board. Further enquiries regarding the crash are to be forwarded to the Transportation Safety Board.

At this time the Airport is closed and will be expected to reopen this evening around 9:00 pm. Further enquiries regarding Abbotsford Airport Operations are to be forwarded to the Airport Manager.

The Airshow will proceed as scheduled on Sunday.

Greg Shelton To Be Awarded 2018 Bill Barber Award For Showmanship

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Greg Shelton Wins Bill Barber Award for Showmanship

The 2018 recipient of the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship is Greg Shelton, someone known across the airshow industry for his various acts and performances.

Shelton, who began performing in airshows in 1990, had an interest in aviation from an early age. In 1982, Greg began flying lessons in a J-3 Cub, but traded in the Cub for a Starduster Too so he could persue aerobatics. That decision certainly paid off!

Today, Greg is well known for his 450 Super Stearman act and FM-2 Wildcat aerobatic performances. In 2017, Greg and his wife/wing walker Ashley Shelton added a nighttime wing walking act to their plethora of performances, once again bringing creativity to the world of airshows. Greg’s 2018 show season includes 12 airshows in both the Super Stearman and Wildcat.

Presented annually by World Airshow News and friends and family of the late Bill Barber, airshow performer extraordinaire, the award recognizes an airshow entertainer who has demonstrated superb showmanship ability. Past recipients compose the selection committee.

Previous award winners include:
2017 Kyle Franklin
2016 Manfred Radius
2015 Bob Carlton
2014 Greg Koontz
2013 Skip Stewart
2012 Matt Younkin
2011 Rich and Dee Gibson
2010 Steve Oliver and Suzanne Asbury-Oliver
2009 Mike Goulian
2008 Bud Granley
2007 Dacy Family Airshow Team (Dave, Phil, Julia, and Susan Dacy and Tony Kazian)
2006 Danny Clisham
2005 Kent and Warren Pietsch
2004 Bobby Younkin
2003 Jim LeRoy
2002 AeroShell Aerobatic Team
2001 Northern Lights Aerobatic Team
2000 John Mohr
1999 Dan Buchanan
1998 Patty Wagstaff
1997 Gene Soucy & Teresa Stokes
1996 Wayne Handley
1995 Bob Hoover
1994 Bob & Annette Hosking (Otto)
1993 Red Baron Stearman Squadron (Steve Thompson, John Bowman, Sonny Lovelace, Randy Drake, and Jerry & Margaret Van Kempen)
1992 Sean D. Tucker
1991 Julie Clark
1990 Leo Loudenslager
1989 Jim Franklin
1988 No recipient
1987 The French Connection (Daniel Heligoin & Montaine Mallet)

The award will be formally presented in a special evening ceremony on Tuesday, July 24th at Theater in the Woods at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI.

Memorial To Honor Blue Angel Pilot Nears Completion, Public Dedication

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Blue Angels Memorial in Smyrna

The finishing touches are being put on a memorial to honor Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, who was killed when his F/A-18 Hornet crashed during a practice flight demonstration in Smyrna, Tennessee in June 2016.

Kuss, who was in his second year on the team, was loved by many. He also was popular in the media, since his position as the team’s 2015 narrator also enabled him to give rides to media, VIPs, and local influencers at each show site the Blue Angels attended.

Following the crash, the town of Smyrna wanted to honor Kuss in a special way. In May of 2017, plans were announced to build a permanent memorial for the fallen Blue Angels pilot outside the airport and adjacent to Lee Victory Recreation Park, where the town came together the night of the crash to honor Kuss. Plans for the memorial included pavers, which could be bought for a small donation, and a retired F/A-18 Hornet in Blue Angel colors.

Kuss Memorial Groundbreaking

On October 18th, 2017, groundbreaking for the memorial was held.

On Friday, the most prominent part of the memorial was installed. A retired Blue Angel jet, BuNo 163498, was lifted by crane from a flatbed trailer and into position on an elevated platform in the memorial. The aircraft is on permanent loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

Kuss Memorial F-18 Hornet - Smyrna, TNKuss Memorial F-18 Hornet - Smyrna, TN

In a video posted by the Town of Smyrna, some F/A-18 hornets are seen flying over the Blue Angel jet. The flyover was performed by members of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101), based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, CA. They flew in from California on Thursday, and waited until the plane was placed to do the flyover, then departed on their way to NAS Oceana, VA.

The memorial dedication will be held on June 9 at 10:00 a.m. at Lee Victory Recreation Park in Smyrna and is open the public. For those who can’t attend, the ceremony will be streamed live. Stay tuned to our social media channels for more info.

Aftershock Jet Truck Coming To Airshows In 2018

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AFTERSHOCK JET FIRE TRUCK

Darnell Racing Enterprises is adding a new jet truck to their lineup!

Claimed as the world’s fastest fire truck at an amazing 407 mph, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, the “Aftershock” jet truck is a new addition to the Darnells’ already popular collection of jet vehicles. The Darnell family also owns the Shockwave jet truck and two Flash Fire jet pickup trucks, which have been popular sights on the airshow circuit.

The 1940 Ford fire truck runs off of two Rolls-Royce Bristol Viper jet engines, which together make 24,000 horsepower. That’s 70% more horsepower than a NASCAR stock car and twice the horsepower of the Flash Fire Jet Trucks!

In a statement, the Darnell’s said that the addition of Aftershock was due to “continued growth and demand of the best jet powered vehicles in the world.”

The vehicle will be at several airshows and drag racing events during the 2018 and 2019 show seasons.

A Three Mile Explosion! Tora Bomb Squad Smashes Own World Record For Longest Wall Of Fire

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Tora Bomb Squad

The Tora Bomb Squad, led by Gordon Webb, and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma announced they have set the world record for the world’s longest wall of fire on March 18, 2017 at the MCAS Yuma airshow. The record was officially certified for 4,890.9 meters, or roughly 16,046.5 feet. That is equivalent to 3.04 miles!

This isn’t the first time that MCAS Yuma and the Tora Bomb Squad have partnered to set the world record. In fact, they beat themselves for this world record. In 2009, they set the world record for the longest wall of fire with an explosion that measured 3,102.35 meters, or roughly 10,178.3 ft. That equates to just under 2 miles.

From the Tora Tora Tora Airshows Facebook page:

HUGE NEWS!!! As you may know, in 2009, we set a Guinness World Record for the world’s longest wall of fire. This year in March, with the help of MCAS Yuma, we attempted to break our own record. Today we got confirmation. MCAS Yuma and The Tora Bomb Squad broke their own record. The new record officially is now 16,046.5 feet!! That’s 3.04 statute miles!!

Congratulations Tora and MCAS Yuma on setting this world record!

Written for AirshowStuff by Bretten Bailey

Naval Academy Unveils “Blue Angels” Uniforms For 2017 Army-Navy Football Game

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US Naval Academy Blue Angels Football Uniforms

Each year, the Naval Academy brings out the best uniforms for their game versus Army. This year is no different, as the Midshipmen will head onto the field in these amazing Blue Angels-inspired uniforms to face off against the Army Black Knights.

US Naval Academy Blue Angels Football Uniforms

The uniforms are designed as a tribute to the US Navy’s flight demonstration squadron. The uniform will bear a Blue Angels patch on the right sleeve, and the United States Flag on the left sleeve, just like actual Blue Angel uniforms. The helmets will also feature the famous blue and gold F/A-18 Hornets that the Blue Angels fly.

US Naval Academy Blue Angels Football UniformsUS Naval Academy Blue Angels Football Uniforms

“This tribute to the Blue Angels reflects the enthusiastic pride and appreciation we have for the Navy’s premier flying team and the motivation they convey to Navy football and the fleet at large,” Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk said. “The masterminds at Under Armour are always thinking of ways to inspire our troops while still reflecting a deep appreciation for a Naval history that is so ingrained in our game day traditions. Annually, a special Navy uniform has become a statement in this game and brings with it appreciated meaning and a clear message that we are all in.”

Photos from @NavyAthletics Twitter / Navy Athletic Department

Article by Bretten Bailey

Slot Pilot Gene McNeely Retires From Aeroshell Aerobatic Team

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Gene McNeely - Aeroshell Aerobatic Team
Photo Courtesy of AeroShell Aerobatic Team. www.naat.net

Gene McNeely, the slot pilot for AeroShell Aerobatic Team, performed his final air show on November 5th in Stuart, Florida. He had spent the last 24 years flying the slot position for AeroShell.

Gene got the flying bug as a kid. After serving in the United States Navy, he used his G.I. Bill to finish his ratings. He fell in love with the T-6 while watching fellow AeroShell pilot Steve Gustafson’s father, Merle, flying one at an airshow. Gene joined the AeroShell team, then known as the North American Aerobatic Team, for the 1994-1995 season, replacing the retiring Ben Cunningham. Back then, the show was a three-ship routine with Alan Henley and Steve Gustafson as the other pilots. The team became a four-ship when Alan’s brother Mark joined the team, and a few years later they became the AeroShell Aerobatic Team, now going down in history as one of the longest running civilian teams in the world.

Over his career, Gene has logged more than 26,000 hours of flight time doing just about anything you can imagine in aviation. He operated his own agricultural business for over twenty years. He also operated an air cargo service utilizing DC-3s, Beech 18s and MU-2s. Outside of air shows, Gene is active in the Reno Air Races where he races a T-6, and loves building homebuilt aircraft. His fondest memories, however, are the time he spent on the team, with their first night show ever at Oshkosh standing out in his memory.

From all of us at AirshowStuff.com, congratulations on your retirement Gene!

Smyrna Breaks Ground On Captain Jeff Kuss Memorial For Fallen Blue Angel Pilot

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The construction of a memorial to honor a fallen Blue Angel has begun.

Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss was killed on June 2nd, 2016 when his Blue Angels jet crashed during a Thursday afternoon practice demonstration in Tennessee. In his memory, the town of Smyrna plans to erect a permanent memorial.

The groundbreaking ceremony, held October 18th, was the first step in getting the memorial built.

As part of the memorial, a Blue Angels F/A-18C hornet will be on permanent display outside the airport adjacent to Lee Victory Recreation Park, where the community came together the night of the crash to remember Kuss.

If you want to donate, visit www.captjeffkussusmcmemorial.com. You can purchase a paver or donate money. As of late October, 78% of the money needed to build the memorial has been raised. All or part of your gift may be tax deductible as a charitable contribution.

Here’s video from the groundbreaking ceremony.