Stunning 2017 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team Paint Scheme Unveiled

posted in: Military, Popular Posts | 5

Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team - 2017 "Canada 150" Paint Scheme

The special paint scheme for the 2017 CF-18 Hornet demonstration aircraft has been unveiled! The scheme was presented today at the ICAS convention in Las Vegas. The stunning design celebrates the Canada’s 150th anniversary with the national colors, red and white, and several versions of the famed maple leaf symbol. The unveiling follows the announcement of the 2017 CF-18 airshow schedule yesterday.

Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team - 2017 "Canada 150" Paint Scheme

Each year, the dedicated demonstration aircraft gets a special paint scheme for the airshow season. The 2016 aircraft was painted black and yellow in honor of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and in 2015 the aircraft was painted in camouflage to commemorate the Battle of Britain in World War II.

CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team 2015CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team 2014

Details Of The F-4 Phantom Phinale – Final Flight And Retirement Ceremony Date Set

posted in: Military, Popular Posts | 16

QF-4 Phantom II - Aviation Nation Airshow 2016 - Nellis AFB

We’ve been talking about it nearly all year, and now the details of the F-4 Phantom II’s final flight in US military service are being made public. Holloman AFB, where the remaining F-4s of the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron (Det 1) reside, has announced that they will fly for the last time on December 21st, 2016. Luckily, the ceremony will be open to members of the public who wish to see this legendary fighter roar into the skies one last time.

Details from the announcement:
8 am – La Luz Gate** opens to attendees (attendees will be directed to designated parking areas and then bused to the event)
8 am – Community expo opens to include static aircraft such as the QF-4 and QF-16
10 am – F-4 Phantom II takeoff and final flight (tentative)
11:30 am-12 pm – F-4 Phantom II retirement ceremony
1 pm – Event conclusion

**The La Luz gate is the only gate open for non-DOD cardholders and public access.

We are working on getting details about the actual flying, but previous discussions of the event have included talk of a four-ship formation as well as supersonic passes. It seems likely that other units at the base will be conducting flight operations during the open house, so there may be some bonus action to see.

It’s important to note that attendees must RSVP with the 49th Wing Public Affairs office by calling 575-572-7381 or by emailing 49wg.paoffice@us.af.mil. RSVPs may be accepted through their Facebook page as well. Also, large bags and containers will be prohibited due to security concerns. No word yet on what constitutes a ‘large’ bag, but plan accordingly.

Further updates will be posted to the event Facebook page.

See also:
Mighty F-4 Phantoms To Roar Into EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016
Just FIVE Public Appearances Remain For USAF F-4 Phantoms, Including Final Flight Event In December
QF-4 Phantoms To Perform Flyover At Sunday’s NASCAR Race in Texas
Phantom Finale: The Last Remaining USAF F-4 Pilot On The End Of A Legend

Bob Hoover Remembered With Celebration Of Life Ceremony, Triple Flyover

posted in: Miscellaneous, Popular Posts | 1
R. A. "Bob" Hoover
Source: AOPA

Aviation lost one of its greats one month ago, when R.A. “Bob” Hoover passed away at the age of 94. Bob was without a doubt one of the most legendary pilots to have graced the skies. His exploits in World War II would have been enough for most pilots, but his real fame was gained following the war when he flew as a test pilot and airshow demonstration pilot. He was also an incredible human being who was renowned for his story-telling, energy, and kindness.

True to his form, the aviation community came together a few weeks after his death to celebrate his life, which a star-studded event at Van Nuys airport. Numerous speakers, many aviation legends themselves, took to the stage to share their stories of Bob and his accomplishments. The event eventually moved outside, where a military honor guard fired a gun salute and played taps as three formation of aircraft roared overhead. The first formation was led by a T-39 Sabreliner, one of the many aircraft types that will forever be linked to Hoover. It was joined by two F-16s from the US Air Force Thunderbirds and a CT-114 Tutor from the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. The second formation saw an F-22 Raptor lead a pair of F-86 Sabres, a type that Bob test flew during his career. The final formation had four warbirds; a P-40 Warhawk, an F6F Hellcat, a Spitfire, and perhaps Bob’s most famous airplane, his P-51 Mustang “Ole Yeller”. In a fitting tribute, “Ole Yeller” performed the missing man pull out of the formation as the last notes of taps faded away.

Fortunately, Bob was the subject of many documentaries and interviews during his time with us, and generations to come will have many recordings to hear his wisdom through. Although Bob is gone, he will continue to touch the lives of aviators for a long, long time.

Navy Releases Report From Blue Angel 6 Crash Investigation

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 3

Captain Jeff Kuss - Blue Angel 6

The United States Navy has concluded their investigation into the fatal crash of a Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornet earlier this year in June, which killed Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss.

The publicly released JAGMAN report lists “pilot error” as the primary cause, stating that Capt. Kuss was too low (3,196 feet) and was flying too fast (184 knots) before entering the Split-S maneuver after takeoff. The maneuver is supposed to be initiated at an altitude of no less than 3,500 feet above the ground and with an optimum airspeed of 125 to 135 knots. No mechanical or maintenance issues were discovered by the investigation.

The report also gives numerous recommendations for ways to learn from the crash and improve safety, such as reviewing and implementing changes to the Blue Angel’s Standard Operation Procedures. The Split-S maneuver will not be performed in 2016 and will be reviewed before the 2017 season to potentially add extra safeguards. More specific training is urged for team members as well, including reviews of when to abort a maneuver.

In the report, Capt. Kuss’ was rightfully recognized for his exceptional Navy career and his passion for showcasing Naval aviation. Vice Admiral Mike Shoemaker, Commander of Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet said “Capt. Kuss represented the best and brightest of Naval Aviation. His loss is devastating and felt across the Naval Aviation Community.” The investigation determined that Capt. Kuss died in the line of duty and not due to misconduct.

In the hours and days following the crash, countless people expressed their sadness over the loss of Blue Angel 6 and shared their stories of how he touched their lives. Capt. Kuss memory will forever live in the lives of the children and people he connected with during his time with the Blue Angels.

Just FIVE Public Appearances Remain For USAF F-4 Phantoms, Including Final Flight Event In December

posted in: Airshows, Military, Popular Posts | 60
USAF F-4 Phantom Departure
USAF F-4 Phantoms departed EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for the last time this July.

Update: 9/20/16 – Although the Fort Worth Alliance Airshow asked to be removed from this post last week, we have reconfirmed that two Phantoms plan to attend the show and have re-added it to the schedule.

We have already reported that 2016 is the final year for USAF-operated F-4 Phantoms, but we are happy to report that they will go out with a public celebration of their service. As announced by F-4 pilot Ron ‘Elvis’ King at EAA AirVenture, there are plans to fly the last remaining F-4s in Holloman Air Force Base on December 20th this year. He estimates that four Phantoms will take part in the event. There will be multiple flybys and some supersonic flying, as well as a Phinal Phantom formation of four F-4s.

The aircraft will also be making several other public appearances this year before this final send off. The most recent plans include just four stops; three of them airshows and one a NASCAR race flyover. As always, and especially with these old jets, the appearances are subject to change at any time due to weather, mechanical issues, or operational scheduling.

16-19 Sep – Reno, NV
23-26 Sep – MCAS Miramar, CA
14-17 Oct – Ft. Worth Alliance, TX
6 Nov – NASCAR Sprint Cup Flyby at Texas Motor Speedway
10-14 Nov – Nellis AFB, NV

Holloman Air Force Base is located near Alamogordo, New Mexico and is home to multiple flight groups such as F-16s of the 54th Fighter Group and the German Air Force Flying Training Center of the German Luftwaffe.

The Phantoms at Holloman Air Force Base are QF-4 Phantom target drones. As of EAA AirVenture 2016, 20 QF-4s remained in inventory. Not all of them will be completely destroyed, but members of the QF-4 program were told that they will need to get rid of the Phantoms one way or another. Once they are gone, the only remaining F-4 Phantom that will be airworthy in the United States is the one owned by the Collings Foundation, which has had mechanical issues for several years.

USAF F-4 PhantomUSAF F-4 Phantom

The date is currently tentative and is subject to change, but the pilots want to get the word out. So mark your calendars; USAF F-4 Phantoms will have one last hurrah in New Mexico before signing off for good this December.

For those who can’t make it, rest assured that AirshowStuff will have plenty of F-4 footage coming, including more exclusive cockpit footage!

Phantom Finale: The Last Remaining USAF F-4 Pilot On The End Of A Legend

USAF F-4 Phantom II Afterburner Takeoff

It goes without saying that the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II has had an incredible impact on American aviation, one that carries it into modern aviation legend. One of the most iconic aircraft ever built, nearly everyone involved with aviation and the military has a story relating to the F-4. Unfortunately this American classic is rapidly approaching its final days*, at least in the US.

In April of 1996, the last operational US Air Force/Air National Guard F-4 flight was conducted, marking the end of the Phantom II’s active career. It continued to serve its country as a remotely-piloted target drone, but now even that mission is coming to an end. We met up with likely the last ever USAF F-4 pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Ron “Elvis” King of the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron, Detachment 1, while he was displaying one of the 21 remaining Phantoms at the Spirit of St. Louis Air Show & STEM Expo on May 14-15 2016. Lt. Col. King was kind enough to talk with AirshowStuff about the status of the target drone program, flying the F-4, and his job overseeing the final days of the famed Phantom.

The 82nd ATS uses the QF-4 drones for full-scale aerial targets that test surface and air-to-air missiles, radar technologies, and other counter-air systems. With 21 QF-4s left in the fleet, their numbers will be dwindled down to none by the end of this year. Once the program phases out the QF-4s for the incoming Boeing-modified QF-16 Fighting Falcons, any remaining Phantoms will be de-militarized and trucked out to the bombing range in New Mexico to be used as ground targets. When asked about whether any of the aircraft will be available to museums, Lt. Col. King wasn’t able to specify, but he did mention that the QF-4Es are not a very desirable aircraft to museum collections due to the modifications.

Lt. Col. King is hoping to get the QF-4s out and around to air shows this year while they’re still around, but with only eight available aircraft and four pilots, the 82nd ATS is stretched thin for availability to attend public shows. He is looking at taking the QF-4 to EAA AirVenture, the Reno Air Races, Nellis AFB’s Aviation Nation, and the Sioux Falls Air Show later this year. Testing requirements and availability will be the ultimate determining factors in their attendance.

*The Collings Foundation does own and operate one airworthy F-4 Phantom in the US. Additionally, several foreign countries use them in active service.

For more information, watch the interview above and keep your eyes posted here and on our Facebook page!

US Navy Blue Angels Mark 70 Years Of Airshow Excellence

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 4

US Navy Blue Angels

Saturday marks the start of the US Navy Blue Angels’ 70th airshow season. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, ordered the establishment of the team on April 24th, 1946, and they flew their first show at Craig Field in Jacksonville, Florida, on June 15th of that year. Since that time, the Blue Angels have thrilled millions of spectators while showing them the excellence of the US Navy and Marine Corps.

In celebration of this remarkable milestone, here are some of our favorite Blue Angels photos and videos!

US Navy Blue AngelsUS Navy Blue Angels - Fat Albert
US Navy Blue AngelsUS Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels - Fat AlbertUS Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels - Fat Albert JATOUS Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue AngelsUS Navy Blue Angels

Behind The Scenes With The 300mph Jet-Powered School Bus

Indy Boys Jet-Powered School Bus

Earlier this year, we had the fantastic opportunity to go out to the runway with Paul and Therese Stender of Indy Boys Inc. at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow and Balloon Festival. You might recognize their names, but you certainly would recognize the vehicle; the world famous “School Time” jet-powered school bus!

Indy Boys Jet-Powered School BusIndy Boys Jet-Powered School Bus

There is actually very little school bus left in “School Time”; the cabin has bucket racing seats for just the driver and three lucky passengers, all with five-point safety harnesses and surrounded by a beefy roll cage. The area behind the seats is really just a shell covering for the massive J79 engine along with tanks for fuel and smoke oil. The entire assembly sits below the window line, leaving a lot of free space. At the back sit two parachute canisters for slowing the beast after the high speed run.

The bus does not have a traditional engine any more, so it needs to be towed until it’s time to start the jet up. Thus, the first part of the performance (after donning the mandatory Nomex racing suits) is to hook up the airshow-provided pickup truck and pull the bus out towards the runway. We were actually with Paul and Therese for two performances that day, and each had its own timing cue for them to meet.

Indy Boys Jet-Powered School Bus

The first performance saw Paul matched up with aerobatic pilots Rob Holland and Jack Knutson at the conclusion of their Firebirds routine. We staged just short of the 500-foot aerobatic show line, which meant plenty of buzz passes from the aircraft. Right on cue, Paul fired up the bus and cruised out to the runway, billowing smoke and flame to announce his presence. Rob and Jack had great fun buzzing both the bus and us, standing at the side of the runway. They flew just a few feet off the ground, right past the bus and through its smoke. Rob in particular made it a point to angle right for us when he could. For his part, Paul kept blowing huge fireballs from the bus and kicking the afterburner in just long enough to get a loud BOOM. After several minutes of this taunting, Paul lined the bus up and Therese took control, keeping an eye on Jack as he swung out wide. This was the big finale. Jack dove in on the runway, then flipped upside down. As he pulled even with Paul, Therese gave the signal and the bus rocketed away in full afterburner, looking to catch up to and pass the airplane. Meanwhile, Rob had positioned himself at the other end of the runway and was speeding head on towards them both! The three vehicles all met at show center as we hustled to jump in the chase car and speed down the runway. Not one to let an opportunity pass him by, Rob dove in behind the pickup, zipping overhead to give us one last haircut. As we pulled alongside the bus, now shut off but still hot, it was a quick operation to disconnect the parachutes and reattach the tow strap for the journey back to the parking spot.

Paul performed again later that afternoon, this time with Skip Stewart and Kyle Franklin in an act sometimes referred to as “The Immortals”. This performance is more choreographed than the earlier one, and the start cue was a stop watch. The flying and driving was very similar, but ground pyrotechnics were added to the mix. Large explosions went off every time Kyle and Skip crossed. The big finale was again a race/game of chicken combo, but the goal was to have a 3-way cross at show center directly in front of the wall of fire. The timing had to be perfect, so the pressure was on Therese to get the signal right. Kyle dove in from behind, Therese dropped her arm, Paul lit the afterburner, and away they went. Skip was already headed right for them from the far end of the runway. From our seats on the runway it sure looked like they nailed it!

We have to thank Paul and Therese for the opportunity to film with them, and also the Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow and Balloon Festival for making it possible!

Did Vulcan XH558 Perform Unauthorized Barrel Rolls Before Retirement?

Avro Vulcan XH558 - Eric Coeckelberghs
Photo Courtesy of Vulcan to the Sky Trust

If there’s one warbird that has captivated the aviation community over the past few years, it’s been XH558: the last flying Avro Vulcan. XH558 has been flying since 2007 after retiring from service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1984. On October 28th of this year, the Vulcan made a farewell to flight at Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport outside Doncaster, England. With a short flight and a final taxi, XH558 became the last Vulcan to fly and will be put on display and occasionally run up and taxied at the airport.

However, the Vulcan has raised some trouble with England’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with what appears to be a pair of barrel rolls during one of it’s last flights. The BBC has published footage by BDP Aviation that appears to show XH558 executing two separate barrel rolls while flying over Grantham, Lincolnshire on October 4th. The CAA had tightened restrictions on maneuvers during aerial displays following the August 22nd crash of a Hawker Hunter T7, G-BXFI, in Shoreham that resulted in 11 fatalities.

According to the BBC article, a CAA spokesperson has said the Vulcan “may have performed a roll maneuver”. Adding: “This did not occur during an air display. Although not normally allowed under its current permissions to fly, a roll is a benign maneuver and the Vulcan’s maintenance support organisation has confirmed that the aircraft is safe to fly.”

When done correctly, a barrel roll maneuver is flown at a constant 1G, meaning the aircraft never ‘feels’ that it is inverted. Famous examples of this include the Boeing 707 airliner that was rolled on a test flight, and Bob Hoover pouring water into a glass while rolling.

The investigation by the CAA is underway, and the Vulcan to the Sky Trust that operates XH558 has yet to comment.

Step Into History With This Rare Footage Of A Spectacular 1945 Airshow

What do you get when you mix the jubilation of ending the Second World War and an Army Air Forces (AAF) with captured enemy aircraft and technology? One of the coolest airshows a warbird buff could possibly imagine! Check out this footage of the Freeman Field Airshow held in September of 1945, 70 years ago.

Some of the highlights you’ll see in this incredible footage are a flying Junkers Ju 290 A-4 (which was a frequent performer at airshows at the field), a mass formation of B-25 Mitchells, low and fast passes by P-47 Thunderbolts, and a fantastic static lineup with a Ju-88, Me-163, V-1 and V-2, and even a Fairchild C-82 Packet on display. Certainly this was one of the coolest shows one could catch in the 20th Century, but how did it come to be and whatever happened to those aircraft?

The end of the war effort meant that it was time to start collecting and shipping home the captured enemy vehicles and materials. An effort was made to evaluate these captured technologies in the form of Operation Lusty, of which General of the US Army Air Forces Henry “Hap” Arnold ordered one of each type of enemy aircraft operated preserved. When the aircraft were shipped to the US, they were split between the US Navy and Army Air Forces. The AAF began storing their captured aircraft at Wright Field until there was no longer space left for the remaining examples. The surplus aircraft were sent to Freeman Field near Seymour, Indiana as it had ample space for the remaining aircraft.

From June of 1945 to December of 1946, Freeman Field was the new Foreign Aircraft Evaluation Center for the AAF where Axis aircraft were evaluated, cataloged, and stored in preparation for the planned AAF museum. When the field was closed, most of the aircraft had been sent away for disposal. The larger aircraft were sent to Davis-Monthan Field (now Davis-Monthan Air Force Base) and the fighters to the Special Depot III, Park Ridge (now O’Hare International Airport). Sadly, a small number of aircraft were destroyed at the field prior to shutdown. There are a small number of survivors of Operation Lusty like the Arado Ar 234, Dornier Do 335, and Heinkel He 219, which are now apart of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

Though today we may never see the same scale of variety and examples of rare aircraft on display again at modern airshows, we can’t give up too much hope, as there are several groups that are tracing the burial pits of those destroyed aircraft at Freeman Field in search of what might be inside them. Regardless, this footage is truly remarkable to watch again and again.

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