Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!
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!
A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here:
Cleveland National Airshow 2017 – Ryan Sundheimer
Also be sure to check out our videos from the show on our Youtube playlist:
Visitors to the Cleveland National Airshow this past Labor Day weekend were treated to a special sight – a US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet and World War II-era F4U Corsair flying together! The pair performed several formation flybys before landing, then taxied together at show center and folded their wings to show their common bond as carrier-based fighters. Check out the entire performance in our video above!
This sort of sight used to be fairly commonplace through the US Navy Tailhook Legacy Flight program, which is similar to the US Air Force’s Heritage Flight program. Unfortunately the budget cuts of recent years stopped not only the Legacy Flights, but also the Hornet demonstrations themselves. As the TACDEMO teams return to full prominence on the airshow circuit, there is hope that these formations can again be flown regularly.
Don’t forget to also watch our video of the full Super Hornet aerobatic demonstration from Cleveland!
A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: Cleveland National Airshow 2016 – Ryan Sundheimer
The 2016 Cleveland National Airshow, featured the US Navy Blue Angels, USAF F-22 Raptor, USAF F-35 Lightning II, Redline Airshows, the Shockwave jet truck, vintage warbirds, and more.
The US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, announced Thursday that the 6-ship delta formation, a signature formation of the Blue Angels since 1958, would return for this weekend’s Cleveland National Air Show in Ohio.
In July, AirshowStuff brought you the news that Cmdr. Frank Weisser, a Blue Angel during the 2008-2010 show seasons would return to the team to replace Captain Jeff Kuss, who was killed during a practice flight in June. Throughout the month of August, the squadron completed training with Cmdr. Weisser to integrate him back into the delta formation.
In a statement released by the Blue Angels, Cmdr. Weisser said “The transition has been a bit easier than I expected. I haven’t flown an airshow in six years, but I am pleased as to how fast it’s come back. I am really excited to get back and ultimately the crowd will be the best judge.”
Lead Solo Lt. Ryan Chamberlain, Blue Angel 5, played a large role in Cmdr. Weisser’s training. In order to get back to the full 6-ship performance, both solo pilots performed maneuvers together and with the other four diamond pilots to re-familiarize Weisser with the role Blue Angel 6 plays in the demonstration. In talking about the training, Lt. Chamberlain compared training Weisser to “taking a rusty bicycle, cleaning off that rust and getting him back up to speed.”
Like many Blue Angels fans, we are excited to see the full Blue Angels Delta and Cmdr. Weisser back in the skies over Cleveland this weekend. AirshowStuff will bring you coverage of the airshow on our Facebook page throughout the weekend.
While the jets will be back in full force, another familiar face of the Blue Angels will be missing in Cleveland. As previously reported, Fat Albert is not expected to fly for the remainder of 2016 as it undergoes maintenance which includes removing the famous blue and gold paint to check for corrosion.
Below, we’ve attached two videos from the 2009 Thunder Over Michigan airshow where Cmdr. Weisser flew with the Blue Angels.
Fat Albert has lost the famous blue and gold colors of the Blue Angels as part of a maintenance overhaul currently underway. The aircraft was flown to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, where crews worked in three shifts to remove the famous paint scheme and check for corrosion. The base Facebook page posted a photo of this work in progress, and today another photo was posted by the Fat Albert Twitter account showing the end result; a naked Bert!
As you can see, only the bright yellow nose remains. The aircraft will be flown to Hill AFB in Utah for major maintenance and repair work. Indications are that severe corrosion is behind the effort that will keep Fat Albert grounded for the rest of the 2016 airshow season. In the mean time, the team will fly a regular ‘fleet’ C-130 for transportation and logistics, but will likely not perform in it.
Fat Albert, the famous C-130 Hercules that serves as the transport for the US Navy Blue Angels, appears to be done flying for the season. As we reported last week, Bert was forced to miss the Seattle Seafair airshow this past weekend due to unspecified maintenance issues, and unconfirmed reports began circulating that it would not be back to flying status any time soon. A tweet by one of the three Fat Albert pilots, USMC Captain Katie Higgins, seems to confirm the news. She mentions that Bert is in depot-level maintenance, and that she will not fly that airframe (164763) again during her time with the team.
— Katie Higgins (@gearupflapsup) August 9, 2016
The team will likely utilize a normal Marine Corps KC-130 for its transportation needs for the remainder of the season, but it remains to be seen whether that aircraft will perform in shows or not. From what we have heard, it seems doubtful. This puts a further damper on the current Blue Angels performance that remains a five-jet routine following the crash of Blue Angel #6, Captain Jeff Kuss, earlier this year. The sixth jet will rejoin the performances once Commander Frank Weisser is fully proficient in the routine.
We have reached out to the Blue Angels for comments and official confirmation. In the mean time, those needing their Fat Albert fix can take a ride in the cockpit during an airshow flight earlier this year: