The Blue Angels’ Super Hornet Transition Is Still Years Away

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 0

US Navy Blue Angels - F-18 Hornets

Fans of the US Navy Blue Angels expecting to see the team perform in Super Hornets will have to wait several more years at least. The Department of Defense announced today that Boeing has been awarded a contract for the documentation and kits to convert nine single-seat F/A-18Es and two dual-seat F/A-18Fs to Blue Angel configuration. The most notable part of the announcement is that this work is not expected to be completed before December of 2021, which would seemingly prevent the team from transitioning until 2022 or more likely 2023 at the earliest.

The team currently flies aging F/A-18B/C/D “Legacy” Hornets. The old and worn down jets create many maintenance issues for the squadron and it has become more and more common to see performances limited by the number of available aircraft, even though a spare travels with the team.

Several major incidents, including the crash of Blue Angel #6 Capt. Jeff Kuss in 2016, left the team with even fewer spares than usual. Even with the coming transition, the team has continued to receive additional Hornets as the Navy retires them from frontline units in favor of Super Hornets and F-35 Lightning IIs.

The Super Hornet transition has been public knowledge for a while now, a firm timeline has never been announced to the public; likely because even the Navy didn’t have firm plans. Certain details have emerged from interviews and previous contract announcements, but many fans have drawn false conclusions from these tidbits that the transition was/is imminent; one airshow vendor went as far as to create ‘Hornet Farewell Tour’ t-shirts during the 2017 season. Today’s announcement gives some clarity to the situation, and serves as a needed reality check on rumors and speculation.

Want to see the Blue Angels perform in person? Check out their 2018 airshow schedule and preliminary 2019 airshow schedule!

Here is the full text of the announcement:
The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is being awarded $17,002,107 for firm-fixed-price delivery order N0001918F2654 against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-16-G-0001). This order is for the retrofit documentation and kits to convert nine F/A-18E and two F/A-18F aircraft into a Blue Angel configuration in accordance with engineering change proposal 6480. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be completed in December 2021. Fiscal 2018 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $17,002,107 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

Greg Shelton To Be Awarded 2018 Bill Barber Award For Showmanship

posted in: Aerobatics, Miscellaneous | 0

Greg Shelton Wins Bill Barber Award for Showmanship

The 2018 recipient of the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship is Greg Shelton, someone known across the airshow industry for his various acts and performances.

Shelton, who began performing in airshows in 1990, had an interest in aviation from an early age. In 1982, Greg began flying lessons in a J-3 Cub, but traded in the Cub for a Starduster Too so he could persue aerobatics. That decision certainly paid off!

Today, Greg is well known for his 450 Super Stearman act and FM-2 Wildcat aerobatic performances. In 2017, Greg and his wife/wing walker Ashley Shelton added a nighttime wing walking act to their plethora of performances, once again bringing creativity to the world of airshows. Greg’s 2018 show season includes 12 airshows in both the Super Stearman and Wildcat.

Presented annually by World Airshow News and friends and family of the late Bill Barber, airshow performer extraordinaire, the award recognizes an airshow entertainer who has demonstrated superb showmanship ability. Past recipients compose the selection committee.

Previous award winners include:
2017 Kyle Franklin
2016 Manfred Radius
2015 Bob Carlton
2014 Greg Koontz
2013 Skip Stewart
2012 Matt Younkin
2011 Rich and Dee Gibson
2010 Steve Oliver and Suzanne Asbury-Oliver
2009 Mike Goulian
2008 Bud Granley
2007 Dacy Family Airshow Team (Dave, Phil, Julia, and Susan Dacy and Tony Kazian)
2006 Danny Clisham
2005 Kent and Warren Pietsch
2004 Bobby Younkin
2003 Jim LeRoy
2002 AeroShell Aerobatic Team
2001 Northern Lights Aerobatic Team
2000 John Mohr
1999 Dan Buchanan
1998 Patty Wagstaff
1997 Gene Soucy & Teresa Stokes
1996 Wayne Handley
1995 Bob Hoover
1994 Bob & Annette Hosking (Otto)
1993 Red Baron Stearman Squadron (Steve Thompson, John Bowman, Sonny Lovelace, Randy Drake, and Jerry & Margaret Van Kempen)
1992 Sean D. Tucker
1991 Julie Clark
1990 Leo Loudenslager
1989 Jim Franklin
1988 No recipient
1987 The French Connection (Daniel Heligoin & Montaine Mallet)

The award will be formally presented in a special evening ceremony on Tuesday, July 24th at Theater in the Woods at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI.

Blue Angels Add “New” F/A-18B Hornet To Squadron

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

US Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet

The Blue Angels have a new jet in their squadron! The Blues announced Friday that they’ve taken acquisition of BUNO 162419, a two-seat F/A-18B Hornet.

While this jet is new to the team, it is not new to the fleet. All of the US Navy Blue Angels aircraft are former fleet aircraft. Pictures online show that this particular jet once served with VX-23, the “Salty Dogs”, at NAS Patuxent River, VA. The jet is now painted up in the Blue’s famous blue and gold paint scheme. It will likely be used as a #7 media/backup jet once fully integrated into the team.

Blue Angels Receive New Jet

This new jet comes at a good time as the team was plagued by maintenance issues during the 2017 show season. Even with the best maintainers in the Navy, the team was only able to field five flyable jets at several shows over the summer months. They simply did not have enough aircraft in the squadron.

Further compounding the problem was the grounding of Fat Albert following a crash of a Marine KC-130 in July, which grounded the type. Part of Fat Albert’s role is to quickly retrieve equipment and replacement parts, but with Bert grounded the Blues had to rely on slower methods of getting parts for their jets.

Eventually the team will transition to F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets, but that is still probably a couple years off. In the mean time, 162419 will help them thrill spectators everywhere they go!

C-97 Stratofreighter “Angel Of Deliverance” Returns To Flight – Watch The Amazing Takeoff!

posted in: Warbirds | 0

C-97 Stratofreighter "Angel of Deliverance" First Flight

The “Angel of Deliverance”, a Boeing C-97G Stratofreighter, returned to flight this week after 15 years of restoration in New York. The aircraft is operated by the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation, which also owns and flies the C-54 “Spirit of Freedom”.

C-97 Stratofreighter "Angel of Deliverance" First FlightC-97 Stratofreighter "Angel of Deliverance" First Flight

The C-97 is a large piston-powered cargo aircraft based on the B-29 Superfortress bomber. It first flew in 1944, and was retired from US service in 1978. Some of the airframes, including this one, were used as aerial refueling tankers. “Angel” is now the only flying C-97 anywhere in the world, though one of the related Super Guppy cargo transports also remains in active service with NASA.

She roared off of Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn on Tuesday, stopped in New Jersey for fuel, and continued to her new temporary home in Reading, PA. Jacob Gentile caught up with the aircraft during the fuel stop, and sent us this incredible video of the takeoff as well as some photos on the ground. The aircraft will stay in Reading through next spring, but the BAHF is actively seeking sufficient hangar space for both of their airlifters. Please consider supporting their cause as they keep these pieces of history active and flying!

Thank you to Jacob Gentile for providing the video and photos!

C-97 Stratofreighter "Angel of Deliverance" First Flight

Doc’s New Home! Permanent Hangar And Education Facility Announced For Newly Restored B-29 Superfortress

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B-29 Superfortress "Doc" Hangar

The newly restored B-29 Superfortress named “Doc” will be getting a permanent home soon. Doc’s Friends Inc., owner of the rare aircraft, announced plans to build a facility at the Dwight D. Eisenhower airport in Wichita, KS.

The 32,000 square foot facility will include a large hangar for storage and maintenance of the WWII bomber as well as space dedicated to an education center. Illustrations of the new building show large windows to view the aircraft along with a raised viewing balcony inside the hangar.

B-29 Superfortress "Doc" HangarB-29 Superfortress "Doc" Hangar

“We’ve said from the beginning that our vision was to build a permanent home for Doc in Wichita. Doc’s home will be a centerpiece to celebrate not only Wichita’s place in aviation history, but it will be a cornerstone to celebrate the men and women who built, maintained and served in the B-29 to protect our freedom. It will also be a unique place for future generations to connect with the majestic warbird through STEM education and perhaps they, too, will be inspired to a career in a STEM-related field,” says Jeff Turner, board chairman of Doc’s Friends Inc.

B-29 Superfortress "Doc" Hangar

Over $4.5 million has been raised for the construction already, and further donations are being sought to reach the estimated $6.5 million final cost. Actual work on the site should begin in September and last for one year.

Doc is one of just two B-29s flying in the world today, the other being the Commemorative Air Force’s “Fifi”. Both aircraft will share the skies together for the first time next week during the 2017 EAA AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, WI.

All photos are from KFDI

WATCH: The Mighty B-52 Stratofortress Takes Off Right Over Your Head

The BUFF Is The Stuff!

It’s hard to beat the sight of a B-52 coming at you. One of the most iconic symbols of American air power, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress has been flying since the 1950’s, and is scheduled to remain in service for at least another 15 years. The crew at AirshowStuff.com love the mighty BUFF (Big Ugly Fat….Fellow), and here’s your chance to see this awesome piece of history up close in a unique end-of-runway view. In 2015, the B-52 made it’s first-ever appearance at the famed EAA AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, WI.

Watch as the Stratofortress spools up its eight Pratt and Whitney TF-33 engines and rolls down the runway right at you! You get a head-on view as the B-52 lifts off and screams overhead. You’ll see this legend of the cold war’s unique landing gear retraction sequence, followed by an overhead pass with the scream of the engines so loud, you’ll almost feel the ground shaking below you! As the BUFF comes around for a final pass, you’ll see the smoke from the engines, the twinkle of the landing lights, and the sheer size of this massive warrior as it approaches. You’ll even get a “goodbye” wave from the crew as it passes down the runway toward you before departing. So set your video player to full screen, turn up the speakers, and enjoy every second of this awesome video in full HD, because you have one of the best seats in the house!

Be sure to browse the AirshowStuffVideos channel on YouTube for more great videos.

-Justin Miner

Boeing B-52 StratofortressB-52 Stratofortress Flyover

EAA AirVenture 2017 To Feature The Only Two B-29s Still Flying – “Doc” and “FIFI” Confirmed For Oshkosh!

posted in: Airshows, Warbirds | 3

Boeing B-29 Superfortress "FIFI" and Fireworks - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

This year’s EAA AirVenture is set to feature not one but TWO flying B-29 Superfortresses. That’s right, both “FIFI” and “Doc”, the only flying B-29s in the world, are planning to attend!

Earlier today, Doc’s Friends, the group behind the aircraft, announced four stops on the first half of Doc’s planned 2017 tour. Doc recently completed ‘phase one’ of the initial flight testing program following a lengthy restoration in Kansas, which allows it to be flown to airshows. These events will be important fundraising opportunities for the group, and an exciting opportunity for fans to see a ‘new’ and extremely rare aircraft. Be sure to check our forums for the other dates and updates at the rest of the schedule is announced!

Boeing B-29 Superfortress "Doc"Boeing B-29 Superfortress "FIFI"

The Commemorative Air Force had previously released a partial schedule for their B-29, FIFI. FIFI is authorized to give rides, and tours the country each year to raise money for the organization.

The two aircraft will cross paths in Oshkosh, WI this July 24-30, during the massive EAA AirVenture airshow. We look forward to bringing you the sights and sounds of this amazing meetup between the only airworthy B-29s!

Update: Eagle-eyed fans have pointed out that these aircraft will actually cross paths earlier in the year, as both are scheduled to attend the airshow at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana in May! This summer will be very exciting for B-29 fans!

“Doc” photo courtesy of Doc’s Friends

New Photo Albums – Spirit of St Louis Airshow 2016

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

Two new albums are now available in our photo gallery! Check them out here:

Spirit of St Louis Airshow 2016 – David Jacobson
US Navy Blue Angels - Fat Albert - Spirit of St Louis Airshow 2016

Spirit of St Louis Airshow 2016 – Anthony Richards
B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber - Spirit of St Louis Airshow 2016

F-35 Will Debut At 2016 Abbotsford International Airshow

posted in: Airshows, Military | 0

USAF F-35 Lightning II

Big news came from the Abbotsford International Airshow August 5, 2016 with the announcement that a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II will be on public display at the show, which takes place on August 12th through the 14th in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The F-35 on display will be one from the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing out of Hill AFB, Utah. Alongside the Lightning II throughout the weekend will be Lockheed Martin Senior Test Pilot Billie Flynn, a former Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet pilot, to talk about the aircraft and its capabilities. This will be the first F-35 appearance in Canada.

While the F-35 is still a prospective replacement for the aging CF-18 Hornet fleet in Royal Canadian Air Force service, political support for the jet is falling. Lockheed Martin’s competitor Boeing is going to be showing off their F/A-18F Super Hornet at this year’s show as well with a company demonstration in addition to the already scheduled US Navy Super Hornet demontration. The corporate demo differs from the Navy’s routine in that the aircraft will perform to the edge of its limits while carrying a payload. The F-35 is sure to be the highlight of the ground portion while the F/A-18F will be the star of the aerial portion.

The Breitling Jet Team will be returning to perform at this year’s show along with the annual appearances by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and CF-18 Hornet demo teams as well as the CFB Comox CH-149 Cormorant Search and Rescue demo. The show will also be welcoming the Jack Link’s Screamin’ Sasquatch Jet Waco biplane and Gary Rower in his Stearman biplane to their first appearances at Abbotsford.

The aircraft, two in total, will arrive at the Abbotsford International Airport on Thursday Aug 11. For more information on the upcoming Abbotsford International Airshow, please visit www.abbotsfordairshow.com.

B-29 Superfortress “Doc” Has Successful First Flight!

posted in: Warbirds | 3

B-29 Superfortress "Doc" First Flight

After a couple decades of hard work, the world gained a second flying B-29 Superfortress this morning when “Doc” took to the skies at McConnell AFB in Kansas. The Commemorative Air Force’s B-29 “Fifi” was previously the only flying example of the type. The first flight event was live streamed online for those not in the gathered crowd, and a replay can be viewed below for those who missed it. Now “Doc” will continue with a program of managed flight testing to fully prove all of the aircraft’s systems. If the timing works out, it may even be able to make an appearance at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh!

You can learn more about the project and help with the continued efforts here.

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