Military To Increase Support For Airshows In 2016 (Part 2 – US Air Force)

posted in: Airshows, Military | 4

USAF B-1B Lancer

Yesterday we told you about how the US Navy plans to increase its support for airshows in 2016; happily, similar changes are in store from the US Air Force!

Overall, the USAF is placing emphasis on consistency in its public outreach efforts over the next two years. The first visible sign of this is the Thunderbirds releasing a two-year schedule (2016 and 2017) for the first time. This emphasis should also mean that the gains in support for 2016 that are mentioned below should not go away in 2017. Here are some of the details on the non-Thunderbirds portion of the USAF’s planned airshow presence, based on their presentation at this week’s International Council of Airshows convention.

F-22 RaptorUSAF Heritage Flight - F-16 Fighting Falcon and P-51 Mustang

Single-Ship Demonstrations

The Air Combat Command (ACC) F-22 Raptor and F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration teams will both return in 2016 and are approved for 20 shows each. These shows will be prioritized based on things like recruiting opportunities, crowd size, location, and suitability. The initial schedules for both teams are expected to be approved and published by mid-February, although shows that fall later in the year will likely be added to the schedule in subsequent updates.

Heritage Flights

The popular USAF Heritage Flight program also returns in 2016 with many of the familiar warbirds and pilots from years past. It sounds like the number of Heritage Flights will increase as well; rumors are that any show with one of the demo teams scheduled will be granted a Heritage Flight. One gigantic new development in the Heritage Flight program is one that we have already reported on; the inclusion of the F-35 Lightning II (JSF) in select Heritage Flights. More details on this to come.

USAF A-10 Warthog On Static DisplayUSAF A-10 Thunderbolt IIs

Static Displays

The Air Force is not quite following the Navy’s lead in lifting restrictions on static displays, but it is upping the limit for civilian shows from two aircraft per show in 2015 to four in 2016. Aircraft towed over from co-located stations do not count toward this limit. Flying units will still need to come up with the budget space to bring aircraft, but at least the opportunity is there!

Flyovers

Although not airshow related, event flyovers are another key area of military outreach efforts. They became few and far between for a while, but are staged to make somewhat of a comeback because the Air Force has approved limited flyovers of things like patriotic holiday events and national sporting events. These events will need to be approved by the Air Force, so it will fall on event organizers to specifically request flyover support. Fighter and helicopter flyovers are limited to two aircraft per event, while bomber or transport flyovers are limited to one aircraft per event. In the past, some of these flyovers would appear on the ACC Aerial Events schedule; no word on if this practice will continue.

US Air Force Academy Wings Of Blue Parachute TeamB-1B Lancer Flyover With Vapor Cone

Wings of Blue

The US Air Force Academy Wings of Blue parachute team will continue to perform as well, although no details are given as to how many events or what a schedule can be expected.

Bomber Flybys

Bomber flybys should be making a comeback in 2016. The heavy bombers of the USAF, the B-52 Stratofortress, B-2 Spirit, and B-1 Lancer, are all now operated under the Air Force Global Strike Command (GSC), which also operates some T-38 Talons and UH-1 Hueys. GSC will be accepting requests for flyover support and filling them as unit schedules and budget allow. Although this may not return bomber flybys to pre-budget cut levels, it is yet another step in the right direction and some very exciting news.

Please stay tuned for more information and performance schedules as they become available!

Seen Last Weekend: Incredible And Rare Bomber Formations At Barksdale And Dyess

posted in: Airshows, Event Recap, Military, Warbirds | 0

B-1B Lancer Bomber

It was a great weekend for bomber fans, as both Barksdale AFB in Louisiana and Dyess AFB in Texas hosted airshows that included some very special and often wished-for sights! Luckily for those of us who couldn’t make it, our friends at CAVU Images have posted video of these moments from the Dyess show. Watch below as a B-1B Lancer, a B-52 Stratofortress, and a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber fly by in an incredibly rare formation. Seeing just one of these aircraft at an airshow would be a certain highlight, but seeing them in the air together is incredible! These same three aircraft actually performed at both shows, flying by one and then transiting to the other.

The second video shows a bomber heritage flight; a B-1B in formation with a WWII-era A-26 Invader. Similar flights have been seen before, such as the B-17 Flying Fortress/B-52 flight at Barksdale AFB a few years ago, but they are very rare.