Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!
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.
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!
The Rhode Island National Guard announced today that they are canceling their 2019 Open House and Airshow. Organizers determined that the planned deployment of troops in the coming months casts doubt on their ability to safely and effectively hold the event. The airshow is expected to return in 2020.
“Since the 1991 inception of the RING Open House Air Show, opening our doors to the public has been an annual highlight for our organization and its members,” Major Gen. Christopher Callahan said in a statement. “With this anticipated federal mobilization commitment in 2019, we have been presented with a difficult decision regarding our ability to safely and effectively conduct this public event.”
The news comes just days before the annual International Council of Airshows (ICAS) convention takes place in Las Vegas. The US Air Force Thunderbirds had been scheduled to appear at the show on June 29-30. The team has been planning to take a mid-summer break after that weekend before traveling to Colombia for an airshow in mid-July. Time will tell what airshow fills that spot, or if the mid-summer break gets extended or moved.
America’s Freedom Fest (Goshen, IN) 2018 – Ryan Sundheimer
America’s Freedom Fest (Goshen, IN) 2018 – David Jacobson
Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!
Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!
The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, are set to embark on a nine-week programme across the skies of North America is 2019.
The team announced “Western Hawk 19,” an August and September of 2019 tour across Canada and the United States.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Red Arrows would display across the Americas, reaching millions of people and showcasing the very best of British aviation.
“Our Red Arrows fly the flag for Britain across the globe, both in the skies and on the ground, and this tour will not only showcase their teamwork and aviation excellence, but also promote our great nation to billions of people across the world.
“After an incredible year celebrating RAF100, it seems only fitting that the Red Arrows prepare to illuminate the skies of our closest allies in 2019, celebrating and strengthening our incredible relationship with the US.”
The team’s last visit to the United States came in 2008, when they performed in New York, Virginia and other states. That visit in 2008 was a “short visit,” according to the Reds, and the 2019 visit is expected to be much longer.
The US program comes after the Red Arrows’ successful 2016 Asia-Pacific and the Middle East tour.
As well as displaying at a range of shows and events, the team will also attend engagements promoting the UK Government’s GREAT campaign, visit local schools, meet with business leaders and showcase the very best of British culture.
Air Vice-Marshal Warren James, the senior RAF officer responsible for the Red Arrows, said: “The deployment of the Red Arrows will demonstrate the global reach and capability of the RAF and our continuing support of the United Kingdom’s defence and commerce industries.
At this time, the shows the team will be performing at have not been announced, but stay tuned to the AirshowStuff Blog and Facebook Page for the information as soon as it’s announced! You can also discuss your thoughts on the tour and potential tour stops for the Reds in our forums.
The US Air Force has released the crash investigation report for April’s fatal crash of Thunderbird #4, Maj. Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno. Cajun was flying a practice routine with the team near Creech AFB in Nevada when his aircraft impacted the ground.
Very little information about the crash has been made public until now, and the remote location ensured there were few if any civilian witnesses. The report does not hold back, however, and describes in great detail how Del Bagno tragically succumbed to G-induced loss of consciousness, or G-LOC, during a high speed dive and failed to recover from it.
Specifically, the dive was part of the rejoin maneuver following the High Bomb Burst and four-ship crossover. Following the cross, the #4 pilot pulls up into a half loop, then flies down the show line inverted before pulling downward into a Split-S to drop into formation behind the lead aircraft. You can watch a video of the typical #4 rejoin sequence on our Youtube channel.
The report explains that on this particular occasion, Del Bagno flew at a maximum of -2.06 Gs while inverted, before immediately pulling to a peak of 8.56 Gs. It is believed that this quick transition from strong negative to intense positive Gs was too much for even the seasoned fighter pilot to handle. He lost consciousness for an estimated 5 seconds as the aircraft rocketed towards the ground. No attempt at ejection was registered by the aircraft systems and the aircraft impacted at nearly 60 degrees nose down and 90 degrees of bank with a descent rate of near 40,000 feet per minute.
Blue Angel #6, Capt. Jeff “Kooch” Kuss, was also killed while performing a Split-S about two years before Cajun’s accident. In that case, it was determined that he mistakenly initiated the maneuver lower than required. Following his crash, the Blue Angels removed the Split-S from their takeoff routine, although they do perform the maneuver later in the show.
As for the Thunderbirds, they resumed flying a few weeks after the crash, eventually bringing back former #4 pilot Major Nick “Khan” Krajicek to assume the slot position again. Based on observations at shows following the crash, they do not appear to have significantly changed the rejoin maneuver.
Here is the executive summary of the full 37 page report:
On 4 April 2018, the mishap pilot (MP), flying a F-16CM, tail number (T/N) 91-0413, assigned to the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the “Thunderbirds,” 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV), engaged in a routine aerial demonstration training flight at the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) near Creech AFB, NV. During the training flight, at approximately 1029 local time, the mishap aircraft (MA) impacted the ground and fatally injured the MP, without an ejection attempt.
The mishap mission was planned and authorized as a practice of a Thunderbirds aerial demonstration in the south part of the NTTR. The mishap flight was a formation of six F-16CMs (Thunderbirds #1-6), the standard Thunderbirds aerial demonstration flight. Thunderbird #4 was the MA/MP. During the High Bomb Burst Rejoin, an aerial maneuver near the scheduled end of the aerial demonstration training flight, the MP flew the MA for approximately 22 seconds in inverted flight between 5,500 and 5,700 feet above ground level. During this time, the MP experienced a change in force due to acceleration measured in multiples of the acceleration of gravity felt at the earth’s surface (G), between -0.5 to -2.06 G’s. While experiencing -2.06 G’s in inverted flight, the MP initiated a descending half-loop maneuver (Split-S). After five seconds in the Split-S, the MP attained a maximum +8.56 G’s. The MP experienced G-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC) and absolute incapacitation at the end of that five-second period.
For approximately the next five seconds, the MP remained in a state of absolute incapacitation and made no deliberate flight control inputs as the MA accelerated toward the ground. Approximately one second prior to ground impact, the MP began deliberate flight control inputs as he transitioned from absolute to relative incapacitation. The MA impacted the ground at 57 degrees nose low with 89 degrees of left bank and the MP was fatally injured on impact, without an ejection attempt.
The Accident Investigation Board (AIB) President found by a preponderance of evidence the cause of the mishap was the MP’s G-LOC during the Split-S portion of the High Bomb Burst Rejoin maneuver. Additionally, the AIB President found by a preponderance of evidence two factors substantially contributed to the mishap: (a) the MP’s diminished tolerance to +G’s induced by the physiology of the MP’s exposure to –G’s (“Push-Pull Effect”) and (b) an associated decrease in the effectiveness of the MP’s Anti-G straining maneuver under those conditions.
Aerobatic pilot Jon Thocker was killed in a crash while performing during the Friday night airshow at the 2018 Culpeper Air Fest in Culpeper, Virginia. Jon was the #2 pilot on the Redline Airshows team. The other Redline pilot, Ken Rieder, landed safely shortly after the incident. There is little information on what happened as the performance was flown in the dark.
Jon and Ken, both based in Cincinnati, Ohio, performed formation aerobatics across North America. Each pilot flew a Van’s RV-8 home-built aircraft. They were particularly known for their night time routine, which included sparklers and fireworks launched from the aircraft.
Jon was a former airline captain who retired to focus on building and flying experimental aircraft. The team recently finished building new airplanes with modifications designed to improve their night performances. We here at AirshowStuff were privileged to work with Jon several times in the last few years, and we are tremendously saddened by the loss of a great man.
One such project was this cockpit video from Jon’s aircraft several years ago. Enjoy the ride he was willing to share with us.
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.
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.
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!