Blue Angels Release 2019 Pensacola Practice Schedule

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 2

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

The US Navy Blue Angels have released their 2019 Pensacola practice schedule!

Although the team travels the country during the year, they return home to NAS Pensacola in Florida most weeks. In order to stay proficient in their demanding routine, they traditionally fly practice performances over the base on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during airshow season (March through November). Look below for their planned practice dates, but keep in mind that these can and do change as the year progresses due to things like weather or other circumstances. We will do our best to keep the list updated here and on our forums, but we can only pass on information as it is released.

Also be sure to check our airshow calendar for an extensive list of airshows and aviation events in the US and Canada, including all of the Blue Angel performances scheduled for 2019!

Practices typically begin at 11:30 am central time and last about 55 minutes. Public viewing is available at the National Naval Aviation Museum at no cost. The outside viewing area for the Blue Angels practice is located on the museum’s flight line north of the museum. Signs are posted to direct visitors to viewing and parking locations, including limited parking for handicapped visitors. Open bleacher seating is available and seats 1,000 people. A limited quantity of chairs are available for a fee of $3 per chair, good for that day’s practice session. Concessions (bottled water, sport drinks, light food, and treats) and merchandise are also available. Chair service, concessions, and merchandise are provided by the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and proceeds support the museum and foundation programs.

A valid ID is required for all visitors 16 and over to gain access to the museum flight line. Backpacks, daypacks, and other similar items are not allowed on the flight line.

2019 Blue Angels Pensacola Practice Schedule

MARCH 27 (Orientation flight only; not an actual flight demonstration)
APRIL 2, 3*, 9, 10*, 16, 17*, 18, 19, 23, 24*, 30
MAY 1*, 7, 14, 15*, 28, 29*
JUNE 4, 5*, 11, 12, 18, 19*, 20, 21, 25, 26*
JULY 2, 3, 16
AUGUST 7*, 8, 9, 13, 14, 20
SEPTEMBER 4*, 10, 11*, 12, 13, 17
OCTOBER 16*, 22, 23*, 29, 30*
NOVEMBER 5, 6, 7 (Practices are at 2:30pm for End of Season Week)

*Denotes autograph session following the practice inside the National Naval Aviation Museum.

Again, practices may be canceled due to weather or other circumstances without notice. Please contact the museum for last minute information.

Former Blue Angel Explains Super Hornet Transition Plans, Talks New Routine

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 2

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

We now know a lot more about the US Navy Blue Angelscoming transition to the F/A-18E Super Hornet thanks to former Blue Angel #1 Captain Ryan Bernacchi. He spoke to Newsradio 1620 in the team’s hometown of Pensacola, FL recently, and explained not only the difference between the team’s current F/A-18 “Legacy” Hornets and the coming Super Hornets, but also the current status of the transition.

Bernacchi started by explaining why the transition is going forward in the first place. When the Blues began flying Hornets in the late ’80s, significant engineering work was done to modify the jet for airshows. This work applied to the A and B model Hornets. More recently, similar work was done to prepare some older C and D model Hornets for shows as well. These modifications include things like the smoke system and the ability to fly inverted for longer than a stock jet. Although the team has continued to fly these older jets, they are aging and relatively few usable airframes remain eligible for the already approved modifications. In response, the Blues were forced to look at either pursuing younger Legacy Hornets or transitioning to Super Hornets.

Their findings are very interesting. Bernacchi says that even though the Legacy Hornets are now retired from active Navy service – the final operational flight was February 1st – the vast majority of the youngest airframes are earmarked for service with the Marine Corps and Navy Reserves. A middle group of airframes from production lots 13 and 14 were available to the team, but had enough differences from the team’s current aircraft that they required a similar engineering effort for airshow modifications. Surprisingly, the end conclusion was that it would cost roughly the same amount to transition to anything newer than the team’s existing jets, whether moving to newer Legacy Hornets or Super Hornets! The final decision to go to Super Hornets was made this past December.

Here’s a video showing Legacy Hornets and Super Hornets flying side by side:

So when can we look forward to new jets in the distinctive blue and gold paint scheme? Bernacchi says that the current plan is to have 11 modified Super Hornets – early production models that never saw operational service – ready for winter training at the end of 2020. They would debut in the spring of 2021. This matches the preliminary 2020 airshow schedule released by the Blues, which is notable for ending a month earlier than usual. We speculated that this was to allow extra time for the off-season transition, and that appears to be the case.

Bernacchi is also quick to point out that this project will take a backseat to maintaining and upgrading the frontline force, so it may slip due to potential budget cuts or other difficulties. The team can continue performing in their current jets for some time if it does get pushed back, but he was careful to emphasize that the new jets are not combat-ready models and they are not coming from any combat units.

What will the show look like after the transition? Bernacchi and former Blue Angel solo pilot Cdr. Frank “Walleye” Weisser spent time at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland analyzing the aircraft’s capabilities and fit for the team. His verdict after flying maneuvers in a simulator and in real life is that it will work well for the team, but it will require some adjustments. One maneuver – which Bernacchi did not name – is likely to be modified or dropped, but he feels some others will look better than they do now.

One proposal is for the diamond and solos to each drop one maneuver in order to streamline the show and improve the flow during the routine. This would shorten the show slightly, but even just three minutes per flight spread over ten performances (including practices) a week adds up to dozens of hours of airframe time saved each year. Bernacchi says that in addition to vetting the aircraft systems for potential failures, they spent a great deal of time looking into other factors of aircraft fatigue like how certain maneuvers and rejoins are flown. Although he did not go into specifics, he said they came up with a plan to substantially reduce the fatigue impact on the airframes, which will extend their lives with the team.

What do you think the mystery maneuver is? Feel free to take a guess and add your thoughts on the transition in our forums! Also make sure to visit our airshow calendar to see where you can watch a Blue Angels performance in 2019 and 2020.

BREAKING: US Navy Blue Angels Pilot Suffers Landing Mishap In El Centro

posted in: Jet Teams | 2

US Navy Blue Angels F-18 Hornet - AirshowStuff

An unnamed pilot of the US Navy Blue Angels was thankfully uninjured after a landing mishap at NAF El Centro today. The pilot was landing at the base when the aircraft’s main landing gear failed to extend properly. The pilot was able to make an emergency landing with the F-18 Hornet without injuring himself or anyone on the ground.

The incident is under investigation.

The Blue Angels are in the middle of their winter training period at El Centro. They use the base for their training flights every year because the remote location and good weather allow for excellent training conditions. Their airshow season is scheduled to start in March.

This incident should not impact the season, although they have struggled with aircraft availability in recent years after several major incidents grounded some of the jets assigned to the team. Depending on how severe the damage to the aircraft is, it may be grounded for some time.

The team will be transitioning to F/A-18E Super Hornets in the coming years, although no firm timetable for the change has been announced yet.

This is a breaking story with few details immediately available. We will bring you more information as it becomes known. You can join the discussion and look for more info in our forums.

Set Your Airshow Plans With Our New Airshow/Aviation Event Calendar

posted in: Airshows, Popular Posts, Schedules | 1

Looking to plan your airshow schedule in 2019? AirshowStuff is happy to unveil our new calendar of airshows and aviation events in the US and Canada!

This calendar combines the major military/jet team schedules and other known events into a single list for easy browsing and comparison. You can use the filters to search by date, event name, location, state, country, or featured performer. We have also included links to event discussion threads on our forums, so you can get more information or ask questions about attending. If a thread doesn’t already exist for an event you want to discuss, please create one!

We hope that the new calendar will help both hardcore avgeeks and casual fans to find and connect with events near them. The calendar currently includes over 180 events in 2019 as well as preliminary 2020 airshow dates for the US Navy Blue Angels and US Air Force Thunderbirds. You can get to the calendar at any time through the button on the blue navigation bar at the top of this page.

We will be updating the calendar as schedules inevitably change throughout the year. If you see any incorrect information, or know of an aviation event that we have not included, please let us know through the forums, e-mail, or through our social media channels!

AirshowStuff’s Top Ten Onboard Videos Of 2018

As our 13th year of airshow coverage comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at another awesome season of aviation and airshows!

Our onboard videos have long been highlights, as they take viewers to all sorts of special places. Whether on the wing of a small aerobatic aircraft, or in the cockpit of a supersonic fighter jet, onboard videos put you in the heart of the action. Here are ten of our favorite onboard videos from 2018!

We also have lists of our top ten warbird videos and our top ten military videos!

The US Navy Blue Angels Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before

This footage, released by the DOD, comes from a camera attached to the nose of Blue Angel #1. Watch as the rest of the famous formation team holds position through several maneuvers like the diamond roll and vertical break!

PACAF F-16 Demonstration – Arctic Aggressor Style!

The Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team is not that well known in the US, as they are based at Misawa AB in Japan and primarily perform at international events. However, in 2018 they visited Elmendorf AFB in Alaska and borrowed a spectacularly-painted arctic aggressor F-16 for their performances.

Flying the Spitfire in Oshkosh

After showing us how to preflight the Mike Potter Collection’s Spitfire Mk. IX, pilot Dave Hadfield was kind enough to share some cockpit footage with us. Watch as he flies this legendary warbird through several passes during the airshow!

A-10 Warthog Aerobatics and Heritage Flight

We were also fortunate enough to work with the USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team this year at the Battle Creek Airshow. Strap into the cockpit for the full aerobatic performance and a Heritage Flight with a P-51 Mustang. We have more camera angles to share in the near future as well!

Ferrari vs. MiG-17 Race

Greg Howell, pilot of the Red Stripe MiG-17, sent us this footage of him racing the Precision Exotics Ferrari F430 at the 2018 Cannon AFB Air Show, Space and Tech Fest at Cannon AFB, NM. Watch as Greg swoops in down low right next to the speeding car – who will win the race?

Canadian Snowbirds Tank Cam

The Snowbirds were kind enough to share this tank cam footage with us after their performance at the NAS Oceana Airshow. Tank cam is a special camera housing mounted on the belly on Snowbird #1, providing spectacular views of the formation behind him! It’ll give you a new appreciation for the skill required to keep nine aircraft in formation during these loops and rolls.

Gamebird GB1 Aerobatics

Watching Philipp Steinbach fly the GameBird GB1 from the ground is impressive – the way this new aerobatic design snaps through maneuvers looks a lot more like an RC aircraft than any full size airplane should – but it is even more impressive to see it from this camera on the wingtip. Don’t blink or you’ll miss the crisp starts and stops!

Snowbird Pilot For A Day

This one is not strictly an onboard video, but it provides an awesome look into our flight with the Canadian Snowbirds, including radio comms!

F-18 Hornet Low Level Training and Star Wars Canyon Run

This footage, courtesy of Gotyacovered Photography, comes not from an airshow performance, but from real low level training. Join this F-18 pilot as he races over the trees, climbing and diving to follow the hills at high speed. Watch to the end to see a run through the famous Jedi Transition in Star Wars Canyon!

Low and Slow Over Oshkosh

Finally, enjoy some low and slow flying with a few trips around the ultralight runway traffic pattern at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. This twin-engine AirCam is gigantic compared to some of the other aircraft on display, but it easily drops into the grass strip for some short-field landings. The joy of flying at its most basic!

Remember to subscribe to our Youtube channel for even more onboard videos – we’re adding more all the time!

New Photo Album – Cleveland National Airshow 2018

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

P-51 Mustang and F-16 Fighting Falcon Heritage Flight - AirshowStuff

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! This album from the 2018 Cleveland National Airshow at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, OH. Check it out here: Cleveland National Airshow 2018 – Ryan Sundheimer

Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!

AirshowStuff’s Top Ten Military Videos Of 2018

As our 13th year of airshow coverage comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at another awesome season of aviation and airshows!

Military aircraft are usually the stars of the show, and for good reasons. The speed, power, and sheer noise are captivating, and seeing some of these cutting edge machines is a rare treat for many. Here are ten of our favorite military videos from 2018!

We also have lists of our top ten onboard videos and our top ten warbird videos!

B-1B Afterburner Spiral

If we have one memory from this airshow season, it’s this ridiculous takeoff and climb. An approaching thunderstorm canceled the Wednesday night airshow at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, but this B-1 still had to get home. As the flight line cleared and lightning flashed in the distance, we waited for the Bone’s departure and were not disappointed. Four engines roared in full afterburner for several minutes as the strategic bomber spiraled up from the runway, disappearing into the clouds but continuing to make its presence known by the rumble.

Up Close and Personal with an F-22 Raptor

The most advanced air superiority fighter of the day is a serious piece of hardware, and still sensitive enough to be roped off and guarded everywhere it goes. Luckily, our friends at the Terre Haute Airshow and Tora Tora Tora worked with us to get a very special vantage point on the F-22 Raptor demo – inside the aerobatic box, directly underneath some of its incredible maneuvers!

MV-22 Osprey Sunset Demonstration

The V-22 Osprey is the only production tilt-rotor aircraft in the world, currently in use by the US Air Force and US Marine Corps. This Marine Corps crew showed off the unique capabilities of the aircraft just before sunset at the 2018 America’s Freedom Fest airshow in Goshen, IN.

CF-18 Hornet and T-33 Heritage Flight

The Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet demonstration never disappoints (except when they are forced to run a lighter airshow schedule) and this video captures not only the beautifully painted 2018 demo jet in action, it also includes a special RCAF Heritage Flight with a T-33 painted up as the “Red Knight”.

Aerial Refueling Tankers On Parade

One of the themes for EAA AirVenture 2018 was a celebration of aerial refueling tankers, the often unsung heroes of modern air power. Although multiple tankers flew by during the week, it culminated in this tanker parade during the Saturday airshow.

US Navy Blue Angels With Comms

The US Navy Blue Angels are essentially the face of the military to many Americans, and we were fortunate to film their entire performance at the Terre Haute Airshow with almost no music or narration – just radio calls, jet noise, and awesome flying!

Ukrainian Military Muscle

Our friends at This Is Flight allowed us to share this video of the Ukrainian SU-27 Flanker performing at the 2018 Royal International Air Tattoo, or RIAT. Did you know that two civilian-owned Flankers were brought to the US and test flown before being purchased and taken away by a mysterious buyer?

F-22s Put on a Show

These Raptor drivers knew exactly what the EAA AirVenture crowd wanted; fast flybys, hard pulls, and lots of afterburner! Even when they were asked to hold, they made a point to “play” in sight of the crowd and showcased the incredible maneuverability of the aircraft.

“Dark Falcon” F-16 Demonstration

Another video that comes from our friends at This Is Flight; this one showcases the spectacular “Dark Falcon” paint scheme on the Belgian Air Force F-16 Display Team. This is maybe one of the most beautiful F-16s to ever exist!

C-17: The Massive Yet Nimble Airlifter

We have to show a little love to a bigger military aircraft, the C-17 Globemaster III. This nimble airlifter can maneuver in ways you wouldn’t think possible, and stop in incredibly short distances. It showcased these abilities at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.

Remember to subscribe to our Youtube channel for even more military videos – we’re adding more all the time!

New Photo Albums – Terre Haute Airshow 2018

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

Two new albums are now available in our photo gallery! These albums are from the 2018 Terre Haute Airshow in Terre Haute, IN. Check them out here:
Terre Haute Airshow 2018 – Ryan Sundheimer
Terre Haute Airshow 2018 – David Jacobson

Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!

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

posted in: Jet Teams, Military | 0

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.

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!

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