The Belgian Air Force has finally unveiled an absolutely incredible paint scheme after teasing it for weeks. The “Dark Falcon” F-16 will serve as the primary aircraft used by the country’s F-16 Fighting Falcon solo display team for the next three airshow seasons.
The scheme is a nod to the callsign of the demonstration pilot, Comd.av. Stefan ‘Vador’ Darte from No 2 Wing at Florennes AB. It was designed by Johan Wolfs and Nicolas Deboeck, and applied by the 2W paint shop team.
Members of the United States Air Force (USAF) Thunderbirds demonstration team are in Europe this week, preparing for their upcoming shows in France and England. The team is set to fly over the city of Paris, France on July 14 in celebration of Bastille Day, France’s La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) commemorating the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July, 1789.
The team flew a practice sortie over the city as well as the beaches at Normandy and Mont Saint-Michel. Check out these incredible photos!
This year, the traditional flyover of the parade through Paris will feature the Patrouille de France and a number of other aircraft from the French Air Force’s inventory, to include Dassault Mirage 2000s and Rafales. Following them will be the USAF Thunderbirds and a pair of Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors. Much like the Patrouille de France’s American Tour earlier this year, the inclusion of the Thunderbirds in these festivities marks the 100th year since the United State’s entry into the First World War, signifying solidarity between the French and American forces.
Following their Bastille Day flyover, the team will be performing at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, England July 14-16. Afterwards, they will depart Europe back for the US to fly at Flight Over the Falls in Great Falls, Montana on July 22-23.
Exciting news for airshow fans in Europe! The beautifully restored P-51B Mustang “Berlin Express” will be flown across the Atlantic this summer in order to perform at the 2017 Flying Legends airshow in Duxford on July 8th and 9th. “Berlin Express” was restored by the staff at Pacific Fighters in Idaho Falls, ID and returned to flight in November of 2014. She is based on the skeleton of P-51B 43-24837, which flew from the UK during the war. We caught her at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh in 2015, where she was a notable guest of the event.
From the Flying Legends performer page: The restored fighter is based around the remains of P-51B 43-24837. This Mustang flew with the 9th Air Force’s 363rd Fighter Group out of RAF Staplehurst in Kent, England. It crashed in Beckley after the pilot was forced to bail out during a training exercise on June 10th, 1944. Sporting a “Malcolm Hood” canopy and wearing the markings for “Berlin Express”, Comanche Fighters newest Mustang is dressed exactly like the 357th Fighter Group Mustang which the legendary American ace Bill Overstreet flew under the Eiffel tower while successfully shooting down a Messerschmitt Me-109 in 1944.
The US Air Force Thunderbirds will be heading overseas this summer. The Royal International Air Tattoo announced that it will host the team at RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom on July 14, 15, and 16. This is not surprising, since the dates were left conspicuously open on the 2017 USAF Thunderbirds schedule, released earlier this week. The RIAT dates are book-ended by US airshow appearances, so the team will likely only be performing at the single event rather than conducting a multi-stop European tour. The announcement does mention that it will be the team’s only UK appearance of 2017.
The RIAT appearance is fitting this year, as the event is honoring the 70th anniversary of the US Air Force. The Thunderbirds previously performed in Europe as recently as 2011.
The Bavarian OV-10 Bronco Demo Team, a well known performer on the European airshow circuit, is looking to arrange a North American airshow tour in 2018. The team is announcing the tour now as they work to book dates at the ICAS convention this week. They will need to book approximately 30 airshows in order to make the trip feasible. Another European performer, the Breitling Jet Team, recently wrapped up their North American tour after performing in the US and Canada over the last two years.
The Bronco Demo Team operates a pair of North American OV-10 Broncos, a twin-turboprop light attack and observation aircraft. The type served with the US Air Force, Navy, and Marines during the Vietnam War and was exported to other countries as well. The Marine Corps operated the Bronco until the 1990s, and deployed them during the Gulf War. Recently, several OV-10s were re-purposed and deployed the Middle East to support special operations forces in the fight against ISIS. The OV-10Bs operated by the team served as target tugs with the German military.
If the team’s efforts prove successful, we may see an influx of European performers in the coming years. Make sure you contact your local airshow organizer and request to see the Bronco Demo Team in 2018!
If you’re heading to Oshkosh, look for a part of history on the airfield! Aircraft number 42-92847, nicknamed “That’s All, Brother,” will be on display all week in Boeing PLaza. The aircraft is the C-47 that led Mission Albany. The aircraft group that it flew with was a formation of 432 aircraft which launched just after midnight on D-Day will be on site for the public to view.
The aircraft was acquired by Basler Turbo Conversions LLC of Oshkosh,WI in 2008. Not knowing the history of the aircraft, Basler had planned to convert it into a modern BT-67 turboprop, changing the appearance of the aircraft by lengthening its fuselage, replacing the original engines with modern engines and gutting the cockpit, replacing it with new equipment.
In it’s current state, “That’s All Brother” looks like an AC-47 Gunship, a role it never served.
The Commemorative Air Force and Basler Turbo Conversions are searching for funding to help restore the aircraft through a Kickstarter campaign. Reward levels are available for those who donate.
The CAF plans to fly it in the future, even overseas in Europe to participate in the 75th anniversary of D-Day if they raise enough money. Their full plan states:
-Faithfully restore the aircraft to represent its exact configuration on D-Day. This will include exterior paint and the installation of original seats, avionics, radio and radar equipment.
Maintain the aircraft in airworthy condition as a piece of living history, attending major national commemoration events, airshows, flyovers and the like.
-Develop a touring educational program that emphasizes the values of the Greatest Generation: courage, self-sacrifice, perseverance, initiative, and the price of freedom. The program will be influenced by the success of the CAF’s Red Tail Squadron program RISE ABOVE. Using a P-51C Mustang and traveling movie theater, this takes the inspirational story of the Tuskegee Airmen to 40 cities each year, reaching about 50,000 people annually.
-Fly to Europe in the summer of 2019 to participate in the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the last opportunity for living veterans to attend a major commemoration event.
As of July 20th, the Kickstarter campaign has raised more than $328,736 for the cause as of July 20th. CAF and Basler Turbo Conversions have until August 31, 2015 to raise the money necessary to rescue the airplane.