WATCH: The Best Of Military Aviation – September 2017

posted in: Featured Videos, Military | 0

Each month we bring you a compilation of the very best military aviation videos on our Youtube channel. These videos take you inside military operations all over the world for things like exercises, aircraft carrier operations, aerial refueling, and training missions. Please enjoy the February video, which you can watch below or view on Youtube: The Best Of Military Aviation – September 2017

A compilation of the best military aviation clips from September 2017. Featuring a A-10 Warthog cockpit footage, B-52 Stratofortress operations, US Marine Corps aerial refueling of F-35 Lightning IIs and AV-8B Harriers, F-35 Lightning II and helicopter aircraft carrier operations aboard the USS Kearsarge and USS Gerald R Ford, and more!

Be sure to check out the other videos in the series as well by checking out the Best of Military Aviation video playlist!

This footage is courtesy of the Department of Defense and we are posting it solely for the enjoyment of our viewers. Its use is not meant to imply any endorsement of any kind.

Video credits:
Petty Officer 1st Class Josue Escobosa – Navy Media Content Services
Staff Sgt. Shellby Matullo – 1st Combat Camera Squadron
Seaman Clint Davis – Navy Media Content Services
Master Sgt. Andrew Moseley – 379th Air Expeditionary Wing
Tech. Sgt. Joe Laws – USS Kearsarge (LHD 3)
Tech. Sgt. Joseph J Prouse – 129th Rescue Wing
Lance Cpl. Carlos Jimenez and Cpl. Waiyan Tin – Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
Senior Airman James Merriman – 1st Combat Camera Squadron
Lance Cpl. Jonathon Wiederhold – 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Combat Camera
Airman 1st Class Stephanie Gelardo – 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Senior Airman James Merriman – 1st Combat Camera Squadron
Petty Officer 1st Class Jonathan Pankau – USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)

Inside USAF Thunderbird Operations Over Colorado

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

USAF Thunderbirds Blue Out Pitch

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds recently wrapped up back-to-back weekends in the state of Colorado, where they performed at the Pikes Peak Regional Airshow on September 23rd and 24th and the Grand Junction Airshow on September 30th and October 1st. During this stretch, we were able to capture a special look at some of the logistics involved in the teams travels and their procedures to ensure a perfect performance.

Wednesday

The Thunderbirds begin each show week on Wednesday at their home, Nellis AFB. Typically, Thunderbird #7 or #8 departs to the next show site to meet with airshow organizers to ensure everything is set up for the teams arrival. This includes things like transportation, lodging, temporary flight restrictions, and ramp security. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew pack up their equipment and prepare it for transport.

Thunderbirds "One Team"

Thursday

On Thursday, roughly one hour ahead of the demonstration pilots, the enlisted personnel and support officers arrive via C-17 or C-130 (“Thunderbird 14”). Once on the ground, they begin preparing for the upcoming airshow. Support crews unload the communication and maintenance trailers, spare equipment, luggage of all members traveling, and even a spare Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine.

Supervising Thunderbird 14's DepartureThunderbird 14 Support Aircraft Unloading

Following the unloading of equipment and crew, flight operations start with the overhead arrival of Thunderbirds 1-6. Once at the show site the demonstration pilots conduct a survey of the area. This provides them with an opportunity to see the show lines, the crowd lines, and find points of reference on the ground. It’s really just an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the area so that they can fly a safe and well-executed show.

Thunderbirds Arrival into the Colorado Springs Area
Photo Credit: Maj. Ryan “Neo” Bodenheimer TB2 (Left Wing)

After all aircraft, equipment, and personnel are on the ground the jets are thoroughly checked for maintenance complications by the support personal while the officers meet with members of the media for plane-side interviews to help promote the event. This is a great way for local news channels to get people interested in the airshow. While this is taking place, Thunderbird #7 or #8 are in a pre-flight briefing with a lucky member of the media who was pre-selected to go up for a media ride and represent their news station. The media ride takes place in one of the team’s two-seat F-16D’s, which also serve as backup jets for the performances. During the flight, the pilot demonstrates maneuvers from the show routine to the media representative in the back seat.

Thunderbird #7 Stare Down During Engine StartThunderbird 7 Media Flight Launch

Friday

Friday begins early in the morning, with most of the team participating in school visits, children’s hospital visits, and other such recruiting or community outreach opportunities. At the same time, aircraft specialists are at the airfield preparing the F-16’s for the afternoon practice demonstration. The Friday practice allows for the Thunderbirds to adjust for any complications or abnormalities they may have during the demonstration, whether it be timing, maneuvers, show lines, or narration. Once the afternoon rolls around it’s all hands on deck preparing for the practice show as if it were the real deal. In many ways it actually is the same, as the Thunderbirds and airshow organizers often invite distinguished guests and members of the media to the Friday show to hopefully give one last push to bring in the crowds on Saturday and Sunday.

Thundebirds Line Chief Overseeing Launch Procedures

Thunderbird #6 Site Survey LaunchThunderbird #8 "Speedy" Back In Action Providing Narration

The Friday practice in Grand Junction actually provided a unique opportunity to witness a Thunderbird mission that is rarely seen. During the performance, the demonstration pilots were shadowed by Thunderbird #7 Lt. Col Kevin “Lowen” Walsh flying a photo chase mission with a back seat photographer from the Thunderbirds Public Affairs Office. This is how the team gets amazing photos and videos of the diamond formation performing aerobatics, and it is not a common sight.

Thunderbird #7 Acting as Photo Chase following the DiamondPhoto Chase aircraft taxing out

Though the practice may have looked flawless to any member of the general public, a rigorous debrief begins immediately afterward where the officers review ground recordings, HUD tapes, and other on-board footage recorded during the show. This allows them to grade themselves on their overall performance and tells them what they can clean up, improve on, and make better for Saturday and Sunday.

Diamond Pass In Review

Saturday/Sunday

Saturday and Sunday begins, as we all know, with an early morning opening of the airshow gates, food, drinks, and hours family entertainment while the other airshow performers fly. During this time the Thunderbirds are preparing for their flight with a briefing, preflight checks, aircraft pushbacks, and communications checks. Everything funnels into the ability to provide the grand finale at the end of the day, thrilling thousands of excited fans.

Once the weekend is over the cycle resets. The team loads up to fly back to Nellis for a short bit of rest before starting again. It’s a constant fast-paced work environment that is often tasking on the team members and their families, but the rewards are extraordinary and every member of the team is always “happy to be here.”

Article and photos by Anthony Cornelius

Dedicated Crew Chief for Thunderbird #3 Launching Out His Pilot

WATCH: The Best Of Military Aviation – August 2017

posted in: Featured Videos, Military | 0

Each month we bring you a compilation of the very best military aviation videos on our Youtube channel. These videos take you inside military operations all over the world for things like exercises, aircraft carrier operations, aerial refueling, and training missions. Please enjoy the February video, which you can watch below or view on Youtube: The Best Of Military Aviation – August 2017

A compilation of the best military aviation clips from August 2017. Featuring a live fire show of force in South Korea, B-1B Lancer operations, CH-53 sling load training, aerial refueling of F-22 Raptors, A-10 Warthogs, F-15 Eagles, F-18 Hornets, and a B-52 Stratofortress, aircraft carrier operations aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and more!

Be sure to check out the other videos in the series as well by checking out the Best of Military Aviation video playlist!

Video credits:
Staff Sgt. Traci Keller – 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Staff Sgt. John Raven – U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
Senior Airman Joshua Hoskins – 3rd Combat Camera Squadron
Tech. Sgt. Micah Theurich – U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
Senior Airman Gabriela Keiser – 4th Fighter Wing
Joseph A Millar – USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)
Senior Airman Izabella Sullivan – 1st Combat Camera Squadron
Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Quinlan – Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet
Senior Airman Robert Mason – Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
Airman Audra Young – Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
Staff Sgt. Jonathan A Guzman – Air Force Content Management
William Lewis – 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Airman Audra Young – Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
Lance Cpl. Juan A. Soto-Delgado – 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
Cpl. James Trevino – 1st Marine Logistics Group
Airman 1st Class Alexandra West – 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Airman 1st Class Draeke Layman – Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa
Courtesy Video – USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77)
Staff Sgt. Alex Echols and Staff Sgt. Michael Kantack – 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

WATCH: The Best Of Military Aviation – July 2017

posted in: Featured Videos, Military | 0

Each month we bring you a compilation of the very best military aviation videos on our Youtube channel. These videos take you inside military operations all over the world for things like exercises, aircraft carrier operations, aerial refueling, and training missions. Please enjoy the February video, which you can watch below or view on Youtube: The Best Of Military Aviation – July 2017

A compilation of the best military aviation clips from July 2017. Featuring A-10 Warthog live fire training, F-15 Eagle cockpit footage, aerial refueling of a B-1B Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress, aircraft carrier operations aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz, mass helicopter operations, and more!

Be sure to check out the other videos in the series as well by checking out the Best of Military Aviation video playlist!

Video credits:
Staff Sgt. John Raven – U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
Cpl. Austin Lewis – 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Combat Camera
Airman 1st Class Phillip M Guadiana-Gomez – 36th Wing Public Affairs
Sgt. Jorge Higuera and Spc. Bradey Pettit – 122nd Public Affairs Operations Center
Lance Cpl. Danielle Mills – 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Combat Camera
Lance Cpl. Jonathon Wiederhold – 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Combat Camera
Sgt. Brad Mincey – 108th Public Affairs Detachment
Senior Airman Joshua DeGuzman – Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs
Charles Rosemond – Training Support Activity Europe
Airman 1st Class Alexandra West – 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Airman Shawna Keyes – 4th Fighter Wing, Air Combat Command
Staff Sgt. Tom Conning – 122nd Public Affairs Operations Center
Senior Airman Mychal Fox and William Lewis – 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Tech. Sgt. Jason Van Mourik – 173rd Fighter Wing/Public Affairs
Airman 1st Class Julian Kemper – 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Airman 1st Class Christina Ensley – 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Sgt. Austin Majors – 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Petty Officer 1st Class Jose Hernandez – USS NIMITZ
Staff Sgt. John Raven – U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
Staff Sgt. Michael Kantack – Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
Airman Audra Young – Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
Lance Cpl. Austin Weck – III Marine Expeditionary Force Combat Camera

WATCH: The Best Of Military Aviation – June 2017

posted in: Featured Videos, Military | 0

Each month we bring you a compilation of the very best military aviation videos on our Youtube channel. These videos take you inside military operations all over the world for things like exercises, aircraft carrier operations, aerial refueling, and training missions. Please enjoy the February video, which you can watch below or view on Youtube: The Best Of Military Aviation – June 2017

A compilation of the best military aviation clips from June 2017. Featuring Red Flag Alaska takeoffs, T-38 Talon cockpit footage, aerial refueling of a B-1B Lancer, B-52 Stratofortress, Rafales, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-22 Raptors, and F-18 Hornets, USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier operations, and more!

Be sure to check out the other videos in the series as well by checking out the Best of Military Aviation video playlist!

Video credits:
Staff Sgt. John Raven – U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
Lance Cpl. Joseph Abrego – Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
Tech. Sgt. Micah Theurich – U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
Tech. Sgt. Sarah Loicano – Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa
Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Logico – USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)
Airman 1st Class Tybee Hurst – 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Lance Cpl. Jaycee Martell – 2D Marine Division Combat Camera
Staff Sgt. Esteban Esquivel – 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Charles Rosemond – Training Support Activity Europe
Staff Sgt. Stephen Ellis – 86th Airlift Wing
Staff Sgt. John Raven – U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
Sgt. Kowshon Ye – 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Combat Camera
Senior Airman Joshua DeGuzman – Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs
Senior Airman Joshua Altice, Airman 1st Class Heidi Goodsell, Airman 1st Class Caitlin Gorsi and Airman 1st Class Caroline Parks – 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Senior Airman Nicolas Myers – 633rd Air Base Wing

Nellis Air Force Base Concludes 17-2 Red Flag Aerial Combat Training Exercise

posted in: Military | 2

This past week, the year’s second Red Flag Exercise, known as Red Flag 17-2, came to a close after two intense weeks of training consisting of air to air, air to ground, aerial refueling, and overwatch missions. Missions were flown during the afternoons and evenings, resulting in two mass launches and two mass recoveries of aircraft each day, five days a week.

Red Flag happens four times a year, hosting the world’s elite fighter squadrons from the US Air Force, Navy, Marines, Air National Guard, NATO, and other allied nations. These groups gather to take part in ultra-realistic simulated aerial war games, which all take place at the Nevada Test and Training Range.

One participating aircraft type that really stood out from the crowd was the EA-6B Prowler operated by the US Marine Corps. This will be marked as the last Red Flag participation from any EA-6B squadron, as VMAQ-4 is set to deactivate. The squadron will be retiring its aging Prowler fleet this June, marking the end of an era for a distinguished airframe.

Colorado Air National Guard F-16 passing the moon during Red Flag 17-2EA-6B Prowler returns during Red Flag 17-2

The amount of time and effort that goes into creating these highly realistic combat environments is unprecedented. Even when the jets are not flying, the maintainers are hard at work on the line keeping the jets ready for the next sortie. While the maintainers and pilots do their tasks, the unsung warriors are the dozens of Red Flag mission organizers that help thoroughly brief and debrief hundreds of pilots from the 15 visiting fighter and support squadrons:

Royal Netherlands Air Force

  • F-16 Fighting Falcon

Spanje (Spanish Air Force)

  • ALA 111 – Eurofighter EF-2000
  • ALA 312 – KC-130H Hercules

Air National Guard

  • 100th FS – F-16 Fighting Falcon
  • 120th FS – F-16C Fighting Falcon

US Army

  • 149th AVN – UH-60 Blackhawk

US Air Force – Europe

  • 493d FS – F-15C/D Eagle

US Air Force

  • 16th ACCS – E-8C Joint STARS
  • 55th FS – F-16CJ Fighting Falcon
  • 79th RQS – HC-130 Hercules/HH-60 Blackhawk
  • 960th AACS – E-3 Sentry
  • 91st ARS – KC-135 Stratotanker

US Navy

  • HSC-21 – MH-60S Seahawk
  • VAW-117 – E-2C Hawkeye

US Marine Corps

  • VMAQ-4 – EA-6B Prowler

HC-130 Red Flag 17-2

Beyond the squadrons’ jet fuel-driven training, exercises also draw crowds of a different breed. Hundreds of aviation photographers travel to Nellis each Red Flag for the opportunity to photograph aircraft from squadrons they may never have the chance to see again. Squadrons such as the Spanish, Dutch, and the Lakenheath-based USAFE F-15C/Ds were on every photographer’s must-shoot list. Nothing provides a better opportunity for good photos than the almost always clear Vegas skies mixed with perfect late afternoon light.

Though 17-2 has come to a close, photographers should mark their calendars as Nellis AFB will be hosting two more Red Flag exercises during the 2017 calendar year; the first taking place mid-July (17-3), and the second in mid-August (17-4).

– Anthony Cornelius

Spanish Eurofighter at Red Flag 17-2

F-16C From the 140th wing returning to Nellis AFBColorado Air National Guard F-16s leading a pair of Shaw AFB F-16s

Red Flag 17-2 Night Launch Operations