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!

USAF Thunderbirds Announce Return To Airshows Following Fatal Crash

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 0

USAF Thunderbirds

The Thunderbirds are back! In a video posted by the team, Thunderbird #1 Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh announced that the team has been authorized to perform at the AirPower Over Hampton Roads airshow at Langley AFB this coming weekend. This will mark their first public performance following the fatal crash of Thunderbird #4, Major Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno, in April.

Several airshow appearances were canceled in the wake of the crash, as the team observed a safety stand down from flying and then welcomed the previous Thunderbird #4 Major Nick “Khan” Krajicek back to the team to fly as the replacement slot pilot. Now that they have been approved to return to performing, they will get back to their previously announced 2018 airshow schedule.

USAF Thunderbirds Announce New #4 Pilot, Cancel Two More Appearances

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 0

US Air Force Thunderbirds

The US Air Force Thunderbirds announced today that Major Nick “Khan” Krajicek will return to the team as the new Thunderbird #4. He flew as #4 with the team in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and rotated out of the squadron only a few months ago. 

Major Krajicek takes over for fallen Thunderbird #4 Major Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno, who was killed in a crash during practice earlier this month. Del Bagno was just beginning his time with the team. Team members usually serve two year tours, with about half of the officers leaving each year. We expect that Krajicek will serve the rest of Del Bagno’s tour, performing in 2018 and 2019. 

Since the team is working to bring Krajicek up to speed, they have canceled their appearances at the Joint Base Charleston Air and Space Expo in South Carolina and the Fort Lauderdale airshow in Florida. Further cancellations may be announced once the team evaluates their training progress. 

Maj. Nick "Khan" Krajicek has been named as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron's Thunderbird 4/Slot Pilot for the remainder of the 2018 show season.

Here is the full text of the announcement:

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – Maj. Nick “Khan” Krajicek has been named as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron’s Thunderbird 4/Slot Pilot for the remainder of the 2018 show season.

Krajicek is an experienced Thunderbird alumnus who performed as the Slot Pilot during the 2016 and 2017 show seasons.

“We’re grateful to have Khan coming back to the team,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, Thunderbird 1, Commander/Leader. “His experience and familiarity with our team’s mission and the demonstration profile make him the right choice as we safely make our way back on the road to recruit, retain and inspire once more.”

To facilitate Krajicek’s requalification training, the Thunderbirds’ participation at the Charleston Air Show and the Fort Lauderdale Air Show have been canceled.

The team’s participation in the Laughlin AFB Air Show and the Air Power over Hampton Roads air shows are being evaluated and are dependent on the team’s readiness to perform a safe 6-ship aerial demonstration.

Krajicek has logged more than 3,400 flight hours as a military pilot, with more than 650 hours of combat experience. He flew UH-60 Blackhawks in the Army, is an F-16C/D Fighting Falcon instructor pilot and commissioned into the Air Force in 2004.

Historic “Memphis Belle” B-17 Moved Into US Air Force Museum Hangar

posted in: Museums, Warbirds | 0

B-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle" and "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby" - National Museum of the United States Air Force

On March 14th, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force marked completion of the B-17F “Memphis Belle” restoration project. In view of invited media and 300 Air Force Museum Foundation members, the “Memphis Belle” was towed from the Museum’s restoration hangar to the WWII Gallery where it replaced “Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby”, a B-17G which had been on display there since 1988. The B-17G was removed from the hangar and placed into storage, where it awaits transfer to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at a later date.

B-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle" - National Museum of the United States Air Force

The “Memphis Belle” bears a paint scheme representative of the aircraft’s appearance on May 17, 1943, when the aircraft’s crew completed their 25th combat mission, thereby completing their tours of duty. They became the first Air Force bomber crew from Europe to return to the United States after reaching that milestone. This achievement earned the aircraft and crew national recognition, a war bond tour, and enduring historical significance.

B-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle" - National Museum of the United States Air ForceB-17 Flying Fortress "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby" - National Museum of the United States Air Force

The Museum’s “Memphis Belle” exhibit officially opens on May 17th, the 75th anniversary of the aircraft’s historic combat mission. Until then, the aircraft remains obscured from view by a large partition. Plans for the exhibit debut include a static display of B-17 bombers, a gathering of WWII reenactors, and a big band concert, among other events.

– Article and photos by Ryan Grantonic

B-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle" - National Museum of the United States Air ForceB-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle" - National Museum of the United States Air Force

Thunderbirds Are Go For 2018 Daytona 500 Flyover

posted in: Flyovers, Jet Teams | 2

US Air Force Thunderbirds

The US Air Force Thunderbirds are set to perform the flyover for NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Florida this Sunday. This will be the team’s first public performance with their new leader, Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh.

The race will be broadcast on FOX at 2:30 PM Eastern time on Sunday, February 18th. Fans near Daytona Beach will likely see the jets flying around earlier in the weekend as well, as they practice (9-10am on Saturday) and take VIPs for media flights.

Flying over the race is somewhat of a tradition for the Thunderbirds, who use the trip as a warm up for their intense travel schedule during the regular airshow season. The team’s first full airshow performance is scheduled for March 24 and 25 in Melbourne, FL.

F-35 Lightning II Approved For Extra Flybys During 2018 Airshow Performances

posted in: Military | 0

USAF F-35 Lightning II

You’ll see a little bit more of the F-35 Lightning II this airshow season! We took a peek in the 2018 Air Combat Command support manual, and noticed that the F-35 Heritage Flight team is approved for a three-pass “mini-demo” at its performances this year!

NOTE: The F-35 profile will include three non-aerobatic solo passes, most likely before the first HF formation pass, for consistency between HF performances.

This is a bit of a let down for those who followed the rumors that the US Air Force’s F-35 would be upgraded to a full aerobatic demonstration after Lockheed Martin debuted an aerobatic profile at the Paris Airshow last year. However, it shows that the program is getting closer to a full-up demo.

In the mean time, we can look forward to an extra few passes from the jet at each airshow performance. There are no specifics on what the three flybys will be, but such mini-demos in the past have consisted of a photo pass, a high speed pass, and a slow speed/high alpha pass. The F-4 Phantoms flew this profile back when they were a part of the Heritage Flight, and both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon teams did the same prior to being reinstated to full aerobatic status. This year marks the A-10s first year back to an aerobatic profile.

The F-35 was added to the Heritage Flight program in 2016, and it has been limited to HF performances in the two seasons since. The aircraft typically takes off and immediately joins the formation, offering a solo flyby or two after the formation breaks apart. Most recently the F-35 has been performing a high speed pass and a pitch to land following the Heritage Flight. Along with the mini-demo, we could be looking at five solo flybys by the F-35.

USAF Single-Ship Demo Team (F-22/F-16/A-10) 2018 Airshow Schedules Updated

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 0

US Air Force Heritage Flight - F-35 Lightning II, A-10 Warthog, P-51 Mustangs

Air Combat Command, which oversees the US Air Force single-ship demonstration teams, updated the 2018 airshow schedules for the F-22 Raptor, A-10 Warthog, and F-16 Fighting Falcon teams today. Several shows were removed after announcing cancellations, but several new appearances were added as well! Take a look at each schedule below and see if they’ll be performing near you in 2018.

2018 USAF F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team Schedule
2018 USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team Airshow Schedule
2018 USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team Schedule
2018 USAF F-35 Heritage Flight Team Schedule

USAF F-35 Lightning II Heritage Flight Team 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Military, Schedules | 10

USAF F-35 Lightning II Heritage Flight Team

Here is the 2018 airshow schedule for the US Air Force F-35 Lightning II Heritage Flight Team! Will you see them in 2018? 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 – for the latest updates please be sure to check our forums!

2018 Appearance Schedule – US Air Force F-35 Lightning II Heritage Flight Team

March 17-18: Luke Air Force Base, AZ
March 23-24: NAS Kingsville, TX

April 3-8: FIDAE – Santiago, Chile (Static only)
April 25-29: ILA Berlin – Berlin, Germany (Static only)

May 25-27: Miami, FL

June 9-10: North Kingston, RI
June 15-17: Ocean City, MD

July 13-15: Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) – RAF Fairford, United Kingdom (HF profile fly by/static)

August 10-12: Offutt Air Force Base, NE
August 17-19: Chicago, IL
August 31-September 2: CIAS – Toronto, Ontario

September 21-23: California Capitol Airshow – Sacramento, CA

October 1-6: USAF Academy Football Game / CORONA

Wings Over Atlanta 2018 Airshow At Dobbins ARB Canceled

posted in: Airshows, Schedules | 3

Wings Over Atlanta Air and Space Expo Logo

The planned 2018 Wings Over Atlanta Air and Space Expo has been canceled. The announcement was posted on the base’s Facebook page earlier today. The airshow was scheduled to be held on March 24th and 25th at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia, with the US Air Force Thunderbirds as the headlining performance.

As with most cancellations, money is cited as the main cause. Organizers say that due to “fiscal constraints”, they cannot provide a world-class show and they have decided to postpone the event to a future airshow season.

This now leaves the Thunderbirds with a free weekend in March, which they may leave open or fill with another performance elsewhere. We’ll update their 2018 schedule in our forums with whatever changes come!

Here is the full text of the Facebook post announcing the news:

CANCELED: The 2018 Wings Over Atlanta Air and Space Expo, scheduled for March 24-25 at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, has been canceled.

Due to fiscal constraints, we are unable to provide the community with a world-class air and space expo at this time. It was in the best interest of our community, event partners and Reserve Citizen Airmen to postpone this year’s event to a future airshow season.

“We truly regret to cancel the Wings Over Atlanta Air & Space Expo planned for this March,” said Brig. Gen Richard Kemble, 94th Airlift Wing commander. “The steadfast support we receive from our community is one of our greatest assets and we look forward to the opportunity to bring a premier airshow back to Dobbins in the coming years.”

USAF Thunderbirds Announce New Commanding Officer For 2018 Season

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

US Air Force Thunderbirds

The US Air Force Thunderbirds have a new commanding officer! The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Holmes, has selected Lt. Col. Kevin “Lowen” Walsh to lead the team in 2018. Lt. Col. Walsh was already serving as the interim CO of the famed demonstration squadron following the unexpected dismissal of the previous team leader, Lt. Col. Jason Heard late last month.

USAF Thunderbirds - Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh

Walsh served as Thunderbird #7, the team’s Operations Officer, during the 2016 and 2017 seasons and was due to leave the team this winter as his tour concluded. He will now take over the second year of Lt. Col. Heard’s planned two year tour before a new “Boss” is selected in 2019.

We welcome Lt. Col. Walsh (back) to the team and look forward to seeing him fly in 2018!

Here is the full text of the Air Force press release:

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Holmes, has officially selected the officer who will lead the United States Air Force Thunderbirds for the 2018 demonstration season.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh will become Thunderbird No. 1, the squadron’s commander and lead pilot. As the twofold duty title implies, his responsibilities will include commanding a force of more than 130 enlisted personnel and 11 commissioned officers assigned to the Thunderbirds, along with leading all demonstration flights.

Walsh, a 2002 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., just completed his second season with the team as Thunderbird No. 7, the squadron’s Operations Officer.

“Kevin’s extensive flying experience and rapport within the Thunderbirds makes him a perfect fit to command the team,” said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander. “I have full faith he will lead the team through a successful 2018 show season.”

Walsh is a graduate of the USAF Weapons School and has logged over 2,600 hours of flight time with more than 500 hours of combat pilot experience.

2018 will mark the Thunderbirds’ 65th season as the Air Force’s premier jet demonstration team, entrusted with the vital mission to recruit, retain and inspire across the nation while representing the outstanding men and women serving in the United States Air Force around the world.

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