Sequestration All Over Again: Looming 2020 Budget Cuts May Ground Blue Angels, Other Military Demonstrations

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US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

Without action from Congress, the Navy could be forced to cancel the Blue Angels’ 2020 airshow season according to a report delivered to lawmakers by Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. The report explores the would-be fallout of potential sequestration budget cuts that are set to go into effect in January of 2020.

Although the Blue Angels are probably the highest profile impact mentioned, the cuts would have strong impact throughout the military. The US Air Force’s contingency report has not been publicized, but it is almost certain that performances by the USAF Thunderbirds and other military demonstration teams would similarly be eliminated or severely reduced should this scenario play out.

While these cuts can be avoided as long as Congress acts prior to the January 2020 deadline, airshow fans know all too well that that can’t be counted on. In 2013, sequestration cuts did go into effect. The military teams were forced to abandon their scheduled plans and many airshows across the country struggled or canceled outright after losing the popular acts. It took years for a number of popular demonstrations to return, and some are still not back to pre-cut levels. It’s safe to say that the airshow industry as a whole is eager to see a second “lost season” prevented as soon as possible.

The timing of the cuts is also interesting, because the Blue Angels are expected to transition to flying the F/A-18 Super Hornet in the next few years. We already noted that their preliminary 2020 schedule ends about a month earlier than usual. The common assumption is that this would provide extra time to practice in the new aircraft before the 2021 season begins. There is no mention in the report of how the transition might be impacted should the cuts come to pass.

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!

Interesting Observations From The 2019/2020 Military And Jet Team Schedules

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

USAF Thunderbirds and Crowd - AirshowStuff

Last week we got our best glimpse yet as to what the 2019 and 2020 airshow seasons will look like when the jet team and military demonstration schedules were announced at the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) Convention in Las Vegas. We here at AirshowStuff were the first to post them publicly, and you can review them here on our blog or in our forums.

Although much of the information is pretty standard, there are always some surprises and less obvious revelations tucked away in the list of dates and shows. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits we noticed:

  • One of the hottest topics in airshow circles these days is the RAF Red Arrows US/Canada tour in August and September. The Reds did have a couple of representatives at the convention, but they disappointed fans everywhere by not releasing a schedule with the rest of the teams. This wasn’t shocking really, but it does leave some fans stuck in limbo for travel plans. Stay tuned to AirshowStuff – we’ll bring you the schedule as soon as they do announce it!
  • The North American jet teams cross paths at least a few times each year, and 2019 is no exception. The real surprise is the show at Joint Base Andrews near Washington, D.C., which features a rare combination of the US Navy Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbirds plus the A-10 Warthog demo team. The Canadian Snowbirds will meet each US team once during the year; the Blue Angels in Ocean City, MD and the Thunderbirds in Abbotsford, BC.
  • Numerous shows will feature multiple single-ship demonstrations, but especially noteworthy are Milwaukee and Cleveland. Milwaukee has the benefit of sharing their weekend with EAA AirVenture just up the road in Oshkosh, WI, so it’s not shocking that they will get the Thunderbirds and the newly approved F-35 Lightning II Demo and also borrow the F-22 Raptor and F-16 Fighting Falcon from Oshkosh for a Heritage Flight. Hopefully Oshkosh gets something in return! Cleveland sees the Thunderbirds, but also gets the F-35 and A-10 demo teams in an unusual collection of Air Force teams at a civilian show.
  • Not counting a handful of US appearances in Canada, there are two international airshows on the schedules for the US teams. The Thunderbirds will head to Rionegro, Colombia in July, and the A-10 demonstration team will perform at Santa Lucia AB in Mexico in April. Both seem a little random, but at least the teams will not be gone on an extended tour.
  • The RCAF CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team will not be performing at any US shows in 2019. We noticed that their schedule was cut down significantly and hoped that additional shows might be approved later, but it was then reported that the season is intentionally being “condensed” amid personnel shortages and aircraft maintenances woes in the RCAF. This is definitely disappointing because the CF-18 carries a special paint scheme every year, so it’s a bit of a collector’s item among photographers.
  • One item that was noticed when the preliminary 2019 schedules were released a year ago is that the NAS Oceana Airshow will not host the Blue Angels for the first time in memory. In a strange twist, the Thunderbirds are scheduled for that one! The Blue Angels will instead be flying at NAS Lemoore in California, the first airshow there in many years. Oceana is also considered a favorite to land the Red Arrows during their US/Canada tour, so there is a real possibility of having two jet teams at Oceana but no Blue Angels.
  • The US Marines are bad at releasing schedules. Not only do they only list a few shows, there are always errors and inconsistencies with the more polished lists released by other organizations. This year is no exception. Just three AV-8B Harrier demonstrations were announced, and four MV-22 Osprey demonstrations. For the record, last year four of each were announced but roughly eight shows saw Osprey demos by the time the season was over. The problem is that the Marines do not have dedicated teams or pilots, they simply fly the demonstrations with regular units that have much less availability. Their schedules also don’t mention the Marine Corps Air Station airshows that end up hosting demonstrations.
  • Looking ahead to the preliminary 2020 schedules, the very first thing that screams off the page is a shortened Blue Angels season, ending in October. This isn’t an error; the season still ends with the traditional homecoming show in Pensacola, just a month before it usually takes place. This indicates an intentional extension to the off season, and comes just in time (actually a little early in our opinion) for the planned transition to Super Hornets. Nothing has been announced, but it sure looks like 2021 may be the first year in the new jets!
  • A more minor entry in the Blue Angels’ 2020 schedule is the airshow at CFB Cold Lake in Alberta. The Blues list the show as August 8-9, but the organizers were quick to start promoting July 18-19 instead. Normally this would be a simple date swap, but the July dates happen to be one of the rest weekends the team is obligated to take; the team cannot perform more than seven weekends in a row. These breaks were instituted following the fatal crash of Blue Angel #6 pilot Capt. Jeff Kuss in 2016. If the organizers are to be believed, this rest weekend will be filled and the schedule will show nine performance weeks between breaks. Expect some more shuffling to occur, but luckily there is plenty of time for all involved to sort it out.

Did you notice anything else interesting in the schedules? Who are you most looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments or join the discussion on our forums!

Canadian CF-18 Hornet Demo Team Announces Theme And Pilot For Limited 2019 Season

posted in: Military | 0

2019 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Pilot Capt. Brian "Humza" Kilroy. Photo Credit: DND

The Royal Canadian Air Force has announced that the theme of the 2019 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team will be celebrating the history of the RCAF and highlighting Canada’s role in the NATO alliance. They also announced that the demonstration pilot for the 2019 airshow season will be Captain Brian “Humza” Kilroy from Alberta.

Each year’s theme is reflected in a special paint job applied to the primary demonstration aircraft; for 2019, the 70th anniversary of NATO and the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion were popular suggestions for the theme. In recent years, themes have honored the 60th anniversary of NORAD, 150 years of Canadian confederation, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and the Battle of Britain.

There have been indications that the 2019 demo paint scheme will be limited to the aircraft’s tail fins. Recent designs have covered the entire aircraft but tail-only designs have been done before as well. Regardless of the limitations, we look forward to seeing what the talented paint techs can come up with!

Unfortunately, according to the schedule they released at ICAS the CF-18 team will not be performing anywhere outside of Canada in 2019. In fact, their schedule has been reduced by 40% compared to last year. A later report by the Toronto Star indicates that the reduced schedule is a conscious decision in light of significant personnel shortages in the RCAF, although the wisdom of reducing recruitment efforts during a shortage is questionable. The aircraft are also in poor shape; the team had many high-profile struggles to keep the primary aircraft flying during the 2018 show season and had to skip at least one entire weekend due to mechanical troubles. Less time on the road should reduce wear and tear on both man and machine.

Make sure you check the CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team’s 2019 schedule to see if they’ll be anywhere near you!

Here is the full press release from the RCAF:

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Captain Brian Kilroy as the pilot for the 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Team.

Captain Kilroy will wow audiences around Canada during the 2019 air show season, flying his specially-painted CF-18 Hornet commemorating the RCAF’s pathway to the stars and the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“The 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Team theme is an opportunity for the Royal Canadian Air Force to reflect on the innovations and people that have contributed to our success while challenging ourselves and the next generation to help us shape the future of our organization for the better,” said Major-General Christian Drouin, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region. “I am very proud of what the RCAF has accomplished in the last 95 years and I can’t wait to see where the next few decades take us.”

Captain Brian Kilroy

Born in Grande Prairie, Alberta Captain Kilroy spent his childhood in Stony Plain, Alberta, and graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in chemical engineering.

The son of an RCMP officer, he was strongly supported to pursue his aviation dreams by his mother, who also shared his love for aviation. He attended numerous airshows throughout his childhood where he even had the chance to see the CF-18 Demonstration Team perform, which further inspired him to follow his dream of becoming a fighter pilot.

Captain Kilroy was a member the Royal Canadian Air Cadets in Stony Plain before deciding to pursue his dream of flying and joining the RCAF in 2006. He was later given the opportunity to attend the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program in Witchita Falls, Texas, where he went on to fulfill his lifelong dream of receiving his RCAF pilot’s wings.

Following flight training, he was posted to 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, as an operational fighter pilot in 2013. Captain Kilroy has actively served throughout Canada on the Hornet in support of NORAD and has deployed numerous times on international NATO and Canadian Armed Forces missions.

Today, Captain Kilroy is a four-ship lead and qualified Electronic Warfare Instructor with 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron, using his combat and operational experience to train the next generation of CF-18 pilots.

“Being chosen to represent the Royal Canadian Air Force as the 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Pilot is a true honour and I can’t wait to meet the rest of my team and start the season,” said Captain Kilroy. “To me this year’s theme really is a call to action and an amazing opportunity to inspire the next generation. We’re challenging ourselves and Canadians to keep pushing the limits of what is possible and to keep innovating. I hope that this summer our team will inspire Canadians to think and dream big while also demonstrating the impressive capabilities of their Air Force.”

2019 Theme

Based on the RCAF’s motto Sic Itur Ad Astra (Latin for “such is the pathway to the stars”), the 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Team will celebrate the history of the RCAF, recognize the innovative and driven Canadians who have led the charge for change and stand ready to inspire a new generation to take up the flame of innovation and help shape the RCAF’s pathway to the stars.

The 2019 season also provides an opportunity to highlight the RCAF’s operational role within NATO, a cornerstone of Canada’s international security policy, as it celebrates its 70th anniversary.

2019 Schedule

The 2019 schedule will see the team visit 15 different show sites across Canada, as well as take part in the Parliament Hill flypast in Ottawa on Canada Day. The 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Team is looking forward to thrilling audiences across Canada this summer and demonstrating the RCAF’s capabilities to Canadians.

2019 USMC AV-8B Harrier Demonstrations Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 0

USMC AV-8B Harrier - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier demonstrations! Will you see one in 2019? Let us know! Post in the AirshowStuff Forums or on the AirshowStuff Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

As is typical for the Marines, this initial list is quite short. A handful of other shows are usually added as the year progresses, and many Marine Corps Air Stations end up hosting demos as well.

Schedules often change during the year – make sure to check out our airshow calendar for an updated list of airshows and aviation events, plus this and other major schedules all listed in one place! You can also check our forums for discussion on the schedule and shows!

2019 Appearance Schedule – USMC AV-8B Harrier Demonstrations

May 25-26: Westmoreland County Airshow – Latrobe, PA
June 29-30: National Cherry Festival Airshow – Traverse City, MI
July 4: Tacoma Freedom Fair – Tacoma, WA

2019 USMC MV-22 Osprey Demonstrations Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 0

US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey demonstrations! Will you see one in 2019? Let us know! Post in the AirshowStuff Forums or on the AirshowStuff Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

Schedules often change during the year – make sure to check out our airshow calendar for an updated list of airshows and aviation events, plus this and other major schedules all listed in one place! You can also check our forums for discussion on the schedule and shows!

2019 Appearance Schedule – USMC MV-22 Osprey Demonstrations

May 25-26: Miami Beach Air and Sea Show – Miami, FL

July 4th: Fair St. Louis – St. Louis, MO

August 16-18: 61st Annual Chicago Air and Water Show – Chicago, IL
August 23-25: Fly Ottumwa Air Show – Ottumwa, IA

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