Each month we bring you a compilation of the very best military aviation videos on our Youtube channel. These videos take you inside military operations all over the world for things like exercises, aircraft carrier operations, aerial refueling, and training missions. Please enjoy the February video, which you can watch below or view on Youtube: The Best Of Military Aviation – September 2017
A compilation of the best military aviation clips from September 2017. Featuring a A-10 Warthog cockpit footage, B-52 Stratofortress operations, US Marine Corps aerial refueling of F-35 Lightning IIs and AV-8B Harriers, F-35 Lightning II and helicopter aircraft carrier operations aboard the USS Kearsarge and USS Gerald R Ford, and more!
This footage is courtesy of the Department of Defense and we are posting it solely for the enjoyment of our viewers. Its use is not meant to imply any endorsement of any kind.
Petty Officer 1st Class Josue Escobosa – Navy Media Content Services
Staff Sgt. Shellby Matullo – 1st Combat Camera Squadron
Seaman Clint Davis – Navy Media Content Services
Master Sgt. Andrew Moseley – 379th Air Expeditionary Wing
Tech. Sgt. Joe Laws – USS Kearsarge (LHD 3)
Tech. Sgt. Joseph J Prouse – 129th Rescue Wing
Lance Cpl. Carlos Jimenez and Cpl. Waiyan Tin – Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
Senior Airman James Merriman – 1st Combat Camera Squadron
Lance Cpl. Jonathon Wiederhold – 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Combat Camera
Airman 1st Class Stephanie Gelardo – 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Senior Airman James Merriman – 1st Combat Camera Squadron
Petty Officer 1st Class Jonathan Pankau – USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)
The United States Air Force Thunderbirds recently wrapped up back-to-back weekends in the state of Colorado, where they performed at the Pikes Peak Regional Airshow on September 23rd and 24th and the Grand Junction Airshow on September 30th and October 1st. During this stretch, we were able to capture a special look at some of the logistics involved in the teams travels and their procedures to ensure a perfect performance.
The Thunderbirds begin each show week on Wednesday at their home, Nellis AFB. Typically, Thunderbird #7 or #8 departs to the next show site to meet with airshow organizers to ensure everything is set up for the teams arrival. This includes things like transportation, lodging, temporary flight restrictions, and ramp security. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew pack up their equipment and prepare it for transport.
On Thursday, roughly one hour ahead of the demonstration pilots, the enlisted personnel and support officers arrive via C-17 or C-130 (“Thunderbird 14”). Once on the ground, they begin preparing for the upcoming airshow. Support crews unload the communication and maintenance trailers, spare equipment, luggage of all members traveling, and even a spare Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine.
Following the unloading of equipment and crew, flight operations start with the overhead arrival of Thunderbirds 1-6. Once at the show site the demonstration pilots conduct a survey of the area. This provides them with an opportunity to see the show lines, the crowd lines, and find points of reference on the ground. It’s really just an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the area so that they can fly a safe and well-executed show.
After all aircraft, equipment, and personnel are on the ground the jets are thoroughly checked for maintenance complications by the support personal while the officers meet with members of the media for plane-side interviews to help promote the event. This is a great way for local news channels to get people interested in the airshow. While this is taking place, Thunderbird #7 or #8 are in a pre-flight briefing with a lucky member of the media who was pre-selected to go up for a media ride and represent their news station. The media ride takes place in one of the team’s two-seat F-16D’s, which also serve as backup jets for the performances. During the flight, the pilot demonstrates maneuvers from the show routine to the media representative in the back seat.
Friday begins early in the morning, with most of the team participating in school visits, children’s hospital visits, and other such recruiting or community outreach opportunities. At the same time, aircraft specialists are at the airfield preparing the F-16’s for the afternoon practice demonstration. The Friday practice allows for the Thunderbirds to adjust for any complications or abnormalities they may have during the demonstration, whether it be timing, maneuvers, show lines, or narration. Once the afternoon rolls around it’s all hands on deck preparing for the practice show as if it were the real deal. In many ways it actually is the same, as the Thunderbirds and airshow organizers often invite distinguished guests and members of the media to the Friday show to hopefully give one last push to bring in the crowds on Saturday and Sunday.
The Friday practice in Grand Junction actually provided a unique opportunity to witness a Thunderbird mission that is rarely seen. During the performance, the demonstration pilots were shadowed by Thunderbird #7 Lt. Col Kevin “Lowen” Walsh flying a photo chase mission with a back seat photographer from the Thunderbirds Public Affairs Office. This is how the team gets amazing photos and videos of the diamond formation performing aerobatics, and it is not a common sight.
Though the practice may have looked flawless to any member of the general public, a rigorous debrief begins immediately afterward where the officers review ground recordings, HUD tapes, and other on-board footage recorded during the show. This allows them to grade themselves on their overall performance and tells them what they can clean up, improve on, and make better for Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday and Sunday begins, as we all know, with an early morning opening of the airshow gates, food, drinks, and hours family entertainment while the other airshow performers fly. During this time the Thunderbirds are preparing for their flight with a briefing, preflight checks, aircraft pushbacks, and communications checks. Everything funnels into the ability to provide the grand finale at the end of the day, thrilling thousands of excited fans.
Once the weekend is over the cycle resets. The team loads up to fly back to Nellis for a short bit of rest before starting again. It’s a constant fast-paced work environment that is often tasking on the team members and their families, but the rewards are extraordinary and every member of the team is always “happy to be here.”
Get ready Warthog fans! The wait is over. A-10 Warthog single-ship demonstrations will return to the skies at airshows across the nation in 2018.
In a statement released by Air Combat Command this week, we learned an A-10 demonstration team will be based at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. They will perform at approximately 14 airshows during the 2018 show season. This follows a Twitter post by the current A-10 Heritage Flight team, which we reported on last week, that hinted at a coming announcement. There is no word on what will happen to the current East Coast A-10 Heritage Flight Team, based at Moody AFB in GA.
You may remember due to budget restrictions and sequestration, single ship demos were restricted after the 2011 season. Heritage Flights were performed in 2012 and 2017, but no aerobatic demonstrations were allowed.
Here is the text of the announcement shared by ICAS and ACC:
The United States Air Force A-10 demonstration team will once again display the capabilities of the Thunderbolt II at approximately 14 shows throughout the 2018 air show season.
The A-10 demonstration team last flew in 2011. Since then, when it has participated in air shows, the A-10 has been either a static display aircraft or flown exclusively with the Air Force Heritage Flight program (in 2012 and 2017). In 2018, the Warthog will fly a full aerobatic demonstration and also perform in Heritage Flight demonstrations.
Specifically designed for close air support, the A-10’s combination of high and low speed maneuverability has made it a popular air show demonstration aircraft for many years. Beginning next year, the A-10 demo team – based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona – will be flown by Captain Cody Wilton.
Are you excited to see the return of Warthog demos? What shows do you think may get an A-10 demonstration in 2018?
The US Air Force used to have two A-10 demonstration teams, but the sequestration cuts forced the units to stand down to USAF Heritage Flights only in 2012 and to cease performances in 2013. They got a bit of a restart this year with both East and West teams reforming to participate in Heritage Flights, but no full demonstrations. It was rumored that this was a stepping stone to full demos, a notion that seems to have been confirmed today.
The A-10 gap has also been filled this year by some normal units showing off the Hawg in field attack demos, including a two ship attack demo at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.
There is also discussion about the F-35 Lightning II team, currently limited to Heritage Flights, transitioning to full aerobatic demonstrations next year following Lockheed Martin’s company demo in Paris this summer.
Expect both developments to be confirmed at the ICAS convention in December if not before!
Each month we bring you a compilation of the very best military aviation videos on our Youtube channel. These videos take you inside military operations all over the world for things like exercises, aircraft carrier operations, aerial refueling, and training missions. Please enjoy the February video, which you can watch below or view on Youtube: The Best Of Military Aviation – August 2017
A compilation of the best military aviation clips from August 2017. Featuring a live fire show of force in South Korea, B-1B Lancer operations, CH-53 sling load training, aerial refueling of F-22 Raptors, A-10 Warthogs, F-15 Eagles, F-18 Hornets, and a B-52 Stratofortress, aircraft carrier operations aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and more!
Staff Sgt. Traci Keller – 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Staff Sgt. John Raven – U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
Senior Airman Joshua Hoskins – 3rd Combat Camera Squadron
Tech. Sgt. Micah Theurich – U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
Senior Airman Gabriela Keiser – 4th Fighter Wing
Joseph A Millar – USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)
Senior Airman Izabella Sullivan – 1st Combat Camera Squadron
Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Quinlan – Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet
Senior Airman Robert Mason – Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
Airman Audra Young – Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
Staff Sgt. Jonathan A Guzman – Air Force Content Management
William Lewis – 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Airman Audra Young – Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
Lance Cpl. Juan A. Soto-Delgado – 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
Cpl. James Trevino – 1st Marine Logistics Group
Airman 1st Class Alexandra West – 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Airman 1st Class Draeke Layman – Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa
Courtesy Video – USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77)
Staff Sgt. Alex Echols and Staff Sgt. Michael Kantack – 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs