Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, And Snowbirds Combine For Incredible 21-Ship Mass Formation

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 1

US Navy Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, Canadian Forces Snowbirds Joint Formation Flight

In an historic moment, the US Navy Blue Angels, US Air Force Thunderbirds, and Canadian Forces Snowbirds joined together in a massive formation yesterday near Lake Erie. The three teams have crossed paths and flown jointly before, but this is believed to be the first and only time that all 21(!) display aircraft have shared the skies together.

US Navy Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, Canadian Forces Snowbirds Joint Formation FlightUS Navy Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, Canadian Forces Snowbirds Joint Formation Flight

US Navy Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, Canadian Forces Snowbirds Joint Formation Flight

The flight was only possible because all three teams are performing relatively close to each other this Labor Day weekend. The Snowbirds and Thunderbirds are in Toronto, ON for the Canadian International Air Show while the Blue Angels are in Cleveland, OH for the Cleveland National Air Show.

US Navy Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, Canadian Forces Snowbirds Joint Formation Flight

Photographer Glenn Watson captured the joint flight from the rear of the formation and all three teams shared these same photos on their social media pages. Hopefully more photos come out from another angle!

The Blue Angels’ Super Hornet Transition Is Still Years Away

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US Navy Blue Angels - F-18 Hornets

Fans of the US Navy Blue Angels expecting to see the team perform in Super Hornets will have to wait several more years at least. The Department of Defense announced today that Boeing has been awarded a contract for the documentation and kits to convert nine single-seat F/A-18Es and two dual-seat F/A-18Fs to Blue Angel configuration. The most notable part of the announcement is that this work is not expected to be completed before December of 2021, which would seemingly prevent the team from transitioning until 2022 or more likely 2023 at the earliest.

The team currently flies aging F/A-18B/C/D “Legacy” Hornets. The old and worn down jets create many maintenance issues for the squadron and it has become more and more common to see performances limited by the number of available aircraft, even though a spare travels with the team.

Several major incidents, including the crash of Blue Angel #6 Capt. Jeff Kuss in 2016, left the team with even fewer spares than usual. Even with the coming transition, the team has continued to receive additional Hornets as the Navy retires them from frontline units in favor of Super Hornets and F-35 Lightning IIs.

The Super Hornet transition has been public knowledge for a while now, a firm timeline has never been announced to the public; likely because even the Navy didn’t have firm plans. Certain details have emerged from interviews and previous contract announcements, but many fans have drawn false conclusions from these tidbits that the transition was/is imminent; one airshow vendor went as far as to create ‘Hornet Farewell Tour’ t-shirts during the 2017 season. Today’s announcement gives some clarity to the situation, and serves as a needed reality check on rumors and speculation.

Want to see the Blue Angels perform in person? Check out their 2018 airshow schedule and preliminary 2019 airshow schedule!

Here is the full text of the announcement:
The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is being awarded $17,002,107 for firm-fixed-price delivery order N0001918F2654 against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-16-G-0001). This order is for the retrofit documentation and kits to convert nine F/A-18E and two F/A-18F aircraft into a Blue Angel configuration in accordance with engineering change proposal 6480. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be completed in December 2021. Fiscal 2018 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $17,002,107 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

Vintage Airliner Crashes After Abbotsford Int’l Airshow

posted in: Airshows, Miscellaneous | 0

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.

Blue Angels Announce New Officers and Demonstration Pilots for 2019

posted in: Jet Teams | 2

US Navy Blue Angels

The US Navy Blue Angels have announced new team members for the 2019 season.

The squadron selected three F/A-18 demonstration pilots, an events coordinator, flight surgeon, and supply officer to replace outgoing team members.

Each officer was recommended for selection by Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Gregory Harris, and ultimately approved by Commander, Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, for final selection to the 2019 Blue Angels team.

“It was an impressive slate of applicants this year,” said Cmdr. Eric Doyle, commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels. “Every officer that applied represented the high caliber of personnel serving in our Navy and Marine Corps. It was a hard decision, but one that will ultimately lead to an amazing 2019 show season.”

The Blue Angels select “finalists” to interview at the team’s home base of Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, during the week of the Pensacola Beach Air Show each year. The team makes selections at the conclusion of that week.

Blue Angels Announce New Team Members for 2019

The newly selected 2019 officers include:

F/A-18 DEMONSTRATION PILOTS:

Navy Lt. James Cox, 35, of Chesapeake, Virginia, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic. He graduated from James Madison University in 2005.

Navy Lt. James Haley, 31, of Canadian, Texas, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to the “Gladiators” of VFA-106. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2009.

Navy Lt. Cary Rickoff, 31, of Atlanta, Georgia, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to the “Golden Eagles” of VT-22. He graduated from Duke University in 2009.

OTHER SELECTED OFFICERS:

The Blue Angels will also have a new Events Coordinator in 2019. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Adam Kerrick, 35, of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, is a Naval flight officer currently assigned to the “Star Warriors” of Electronic Attack Squadron 209. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2005.

The Blue Angels Flight Surgeon for 2019 will be Navy Lt. Aaron Hicks, 33, of Federal Way, Washington. Hicks is a flight surgeon currently assigned to Carrier Air Wing 17. He graduated from Western Washington University in 2007.

Navy Lt. j.g. Kristin Toland, 31, of Sedalia, Missouri, is a supply officer currently assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 1. She graduated from Columbia College in 2012. She will serve as the team’s supply officer for the 2019 season.

The Blue Angels will wrap up their 2018 season at their home base, NAS Pensacola on November 3rd. The newly selected team members will begin training with the team after that show, including winter training at NAS El Centro in early 2019.

WATCH: Must See Videos From EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018

posted in: Airshows, Event Recap | 1

B-1 Takeoff

The annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow is well underway and the week has already provided some awesome highlights.

On Monday, the F7F Tigercats flew. Unfortunately, upon landing, one of them encountered a gear issue, but we’ve heard the aircraft has been fully repaired since then.

Tuesday featured the departure of the Honeywell Flying Testbed 757. This unique aircraft is used for in flight testing and includes a special third engine mounted to the fuselage.

On Wednesday, the US Navy Blue Angels performed a flyover and several delta passes to kickoff the show. This came as a surprise to many- including announcer Rob Reider, who was singing the anthem.

While the night show on Wednesday was cancelled (rescheduled for Thu), the B-1 still put on a show. The Bone took off shortly after 8:15, in full afterburner and climbed while circling the airport in full burner!

On Thursday, two F-35 Lightnings arrived during the airshow. They were able to negotiate a few low approaches- much to the delight of the crowd.

Friday’s show includes several military arrivals- including F-15s and F-22s. We’ll be sure to post the videos soon!

Look for more EAA AirVenture content in the coming weeks on our YouTube channel and Facebook page.

USAF Thunderbirds Announce New Pilots and Officers for 2019

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 3

USAF Thunderbirds

The USAF Thunderbirds have announced the new pilots and officers for the 2019 show season.

Lt. Col. John Caldwell, 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron Commander, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will become Thunderbird No. 1, the squadron’s Commander/Leader. Caldwell will replace Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh.

Capt. Michael Brewer of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., has been selected as Thunderbird No. 3, the team’s Right Wing Pilot.

Maj. Whit Collins, the current Lead Solo Pilot, will transition to the Slot Pilot position as Thunderbird No. 4 in 2019.

The Thunderbirds will also have another female pilot in 2019! Capt. Michelle Curran of the 355th Fighter Squadron, located at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, has been chosen as Thunderbird No. 6, the team’s Opposing Solo Pilot. This will be the first show season since 2014 with a female demonstration pilot on the team. Maj. Matt Kimmel, the current Opposing Solo Pilot, will transition to the Lead Solo position in 2019.

Capt. Michelle “Mace” Curran
Pic by Staff Sgt. Samantha Mathison

Maj. Jason Markzon, 35th Maintenance Operations Flight Commander and F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot assigned to the 13th Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan, will become Thunderbird No. 8, the team’s Advance Pilot and Narrator.

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Noel Colls, a flight surgeon and family practice resident assigned to the 60th Medical Operations Squadron Travis Air Force Base, Calif., will become Thunderbird No. 9, the team’s Flight Surgeon. As the team’s flight doctor, Lt. Col Colls will be responsible for the health and safety of the team and working with the pilots to ensure their flight readiness.

In a statement, the team’s current commander, Lt. Col Kevin Walsh said tThis year’s exceptional officer applicant pool reflects the incredible degree of talent, motivation and diversity that exists throughout our Air Force. It was a tough selection process, but ultimately these officers rose to the top. The Thunderbirds are proud to welcome these leaders aboard as they assume responsibility for showcasing the pride, precision and professionalism of more than 660,000 total force Airmen serving around the world.”

Officers on the Thunderbirds team serve two year tours of duty. By design, the position openings are staggered, allowing the squadron to maintain continuity of experience and leadership. In 2020, Thunderbird Nos. 2, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 12 will be replaced.

Congrats to all of the newly selected team members!

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