Thunderbirds Are Go For 2018 Daytona 500 Flyover

posted in: Flyovers, Jet Teams | 2

US Air Force Thunderbirds

The US Air Force Thunderbirds are set to perform the flyover for NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Florida this Sunday. This will be the team’s first public performance with their new leader, Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh.

The race will be broadcast on FOX at 2:30 PM Eastern time on Sunday, February 18th. Fans near Daytona Beach will likely see the jets flying around earlier in the weekend as well, as they practice (9-10am on Saturday) and take VIPs for media flights.

Flying over the race is somewhat of a tradition for the Thunderbirds, who use the trip as a warm up for their intense travel schedule during the regular airshow season. The team’s first full airshow performance is scheduled for March 24 and 25 in Melbourne, FL.

Blue Angels Release 2018 Pensacola Practice Schedule

posted in: Jet Teams, Schedules | 15

US Navy Blue Angels Release Practice Schedule for 2018

The US Navy Blue Angels have released their 2018 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 the 2018 Blue Angels airshow schedule to see where else they’ll be performing!

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.

2018 Blue Angels Pensacola Practice Schedule
March 27th
March 28th*
March 29th
March 30th (9am-10am)

April 3rd
April 4th
April 10th
April 11th*
April 17th
April 18th*
April 24th
April 25th*

May 1st
May 2nd*
May 8th
May 9th*
May 15th
May 16th*
May 17th
May 18th (9am-10am)
May 29th

June 5th
June 20th*
June 26th

July 3rd
July 5th
July 6th (9am-10am)
July 11th
July 17th
July 18th*
July 24th

August 15th*
August 21st
August 22nd*
August 28th
August 29th*

September 5th*
September 6th
September 7th (9am-10am)
September 11th
September 12th*
September 18th
September 25th*

October 17th*
October 23rd
October 24th*
October 30th
October 31st

November 1st
November 2nd

*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.

Florida’s Melbourne Air And Space Show Changes 2018 Dates, Retains Thunderbirds As Headliner

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 4

USAF Thunderbirds - Opposing Pass

The Melbourne Air and Space Show announced today that they have changed dates from March 17-18 to March 24-25. Organizers say that they decided to change dates in order to keep the US Air Force Thunderbirds as headliners.

The move is not entirely unexpected, as the two other airshows that originally planned to have the Thunderbirds in March also went on to change their plans.

First, Wings Over Atlanta at Dobbins ARB in Georgia canceled their March 24-25 show citing financial reasons. Then, the Luke Days airshow at Luke AFB in Arizona changed dates from March 10-11 to March 17-18 and picked up a commitment from the US Navy Blue Angels to replace the Thunderbirds as the headlining act.

This left Melbourne as the sole March appearance by the Thunderbirds, with an open weekend before and after. Now that they have slipped back to the original Wings Over Atlanta dates, they represent the first airshow of the Thunderbirds’ 2018 season.

All of this schedule churn is extremely unusual, but likely a result of the equally unusual dismissal and replacement of former Thunderbird #1, Lt. Col. Jason Heard after the 2017 season. The new Thunderbird #1, Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, had not previously flown the demonstration and it is not surprising that he would require extra practice time to learn the profile. In fact, we speculated that this might end up happening at the time of the announcement. These schedule moves give the team an extra two weeks of training time, and by reconfirming their Melbourne appearance for March 24th, they seem confident that it will be enough.

Welcome, Boss! New Commander Flies First Blue Angels Training Mission

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

New Boss of the Blue Angels Flies for the 1st Time

Earlier this year, the US Navy Blue Angels announced a new “Boss”had been selected to lead the famous flight demonstration team. Now, he is taking the skies for the first time in a Blue Angels jet!

Commander Eric “Popeye” Doyle will lead the demonstration team during their 2018 and 2019 show seasons. A graduate of Texas A&M, Cmdr. Doyle previously commanded VFA-113 “Stingers”. He assumed command of the squadron from outgoing Boss Capt. Ryan Bernacchi at a change of command ceremony at the National Naval Aviation Museumin Pensacola on November 12th, following the team’s final performance of the season the day before.

New Boss of the Blue Angels Flies for the 1st Time

On November 15th, Cmdr. Doyle strapped into the famous blue and gold hornet and lead a short winter training flight in the skies over Pensacola.

In January, the entire Blue Angels team will deploy to their winter training base of El Centro, CA for the traditional winter training period. The Blues will kickoff the 2018 show season March 10th at the NAF El Centro Airshow.

WATCH: Blue Angels Soar Over Pensacola Beach With F-35s At Sunset

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

One of the traditions of the US Navy Blue Angels is the “beach buzz”; each time the team returns from an airshow trip to their home base of NAS Pensacola, they fly down Pensacola Beach in formation as a salute to the community that supports them.

As the team returned home from the NAS Jacksonville airshow tonight, they did just that. However, on an unusual second pass over the beach, they were accompanied by two extra aircraft!

Two F-35 Lightning IIs took formation on the left and right sides of the Delta formation to make an 8-ship formation! Check out the video below:

Fat Albert Returns To Airshows!

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 3

US Navy Blue Angels C-130 Hercules Fat Albert

Fat Albert, the Blue Angels C-130 Hercules transport will return to the skies this week for the first airshow demonstration since her maintenance overhaul. Bert will fly in the annual Pensacola Beach Airshow, slated for June 8th. Practice day is Friday, June 7th.

Late last summer, Fat Albert was grounded for the end of the airshow season, missing the popular shows at NAS Oceana, MCAS Miramar, and Fleet Week in San Francisco. During the overhaul, Bert underwent a complete inspection and received a new paint job!

Maj. Mark Hamilton, Maj. Mark Montgomery and Maj. Kyle Maschner will be the pilots of Fat Albert for the 2017 airshow season. Fat Albert is always flown by an all Marine crew.

Don’t remember the Fat Albert routine? We’ve got you covered! Check out this video of a full Fat Albert demonstration at the 2016 Lynchburg Airshow in Lynchburg, VA.

Once you’ve watched that, watch from INSIDE Fat Albert!

US Air Force Thunderbirds Visit US Navy Blue Angels In Pensacola For Joint Training, Formation Photo Flight

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 1

US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels Group Photo

Jet team fans in Florida got a rare treat last week when the US Air Force Thunderbirds popped in for a visit with the US Navy Blue Angels and their home base in Pensacola. The two teams rarely cross paths during the airshow season, but do try to arrange some time together each year to learn from one another and pass on knowledge.

US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue AngelsUS Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels

This year, the Thunderbirds took advantage of some convenient timing and stopped at NAS Pensacola between their shows at nearby Tyndall AFB and Lake Charles, LA. They received a warm welcome from their Navy counterparts, and during the three days together the team members swapped best practices and bonded through many different activities.

US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue AngelsUS Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels

On Tuesday, each team performed a full routine over the base and two pilots from each team were able to ride with their counterparts. The Blue Angels are famous for not wearing G-suits, and you can rest assured that Thunderbirds #1 and #5 did not wear any during their ride either. Blue Angels #1 and #4, however, did accept the offered G-suits for their ride in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, since it can pull more Gs than the Hornet.

US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue AngelsUS Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels

The maintenance and support crews got in on the fun as well, and the public affairs officers from each team ‘took over’ the other team’s Instagram account, and documented the visit with many video clips and photos. Among the coolest photos taken were several group shots of the combined teams. The joint training concluded with a double formation photo flight over the surrounding area, offering the Thunderbirds a chance the “buzz the beach”, the typical Blue Angel practice upon returning home from a show. The photo flight did have a hiccup when some turbulence caused two Blue Angel Hornets to make mid-air contact, but the highly trained pilots recovered quickly and ensured a safe outcome.

You can see more of the incredible photos and videos from this event in our forum thread: 2017 US Navy Blue Angels/USAF Thunderbirds Joint Training

RARE SIGHT: Blue Angels and Patrouille de France Fly Together

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 1

Blue Angels and Patrouille de France Fly Together

The world’s two oldest military flight demonstration teams flew together Sunday night as the US Navy Blue Angels returned to Pensacola from Sun ‘n Fun with the Patrouille de France in tow to spend a few days with the team.

The eight Alpha Jets of the Patrouille teamed up with the Blue’s six F/A-18 Hornets at sunset, flying down the coastline and creating a fantastic photo opportunity for Blue Angel #7 to snap a few pictures, like the one above.

Check out this video posted by a boater off the coast of Pensacola!

The French team’s visit is part of a nationwide tour that takes them from coast to coast. The team just wrapped up the central Florida portion of the visit with airshow performances in Melbourne, FL and Lakeland, FL.

Below are some photos provided by the Blue Angels Association!

Blue Angels and Patrouille de France Fly TogetherBlue Angels and Patrouille de France Fly Together

Have a photo or video you took? Post it on our Facebook wall or our forums! We’d love to see it.

WATCH: Patrouille de France Performs In The US For The First Time In Decades

The Patrouille de France performed the first airshow routine of their North American tour this past weekend, and we were there to capture it! Check out this video of their entire show on the Friday practice day at the Melbourne Air and Space Show in Florida. Melbourne is one of just a handful of stops the team will make on their whirlwind tour through the US and Canada this month, and marks the first US performance by the team in more than 30 years.

The routine is a little shorter than those of the US Navy Blue Angels and US Air Force Thunderbirds, but contains all of the same exciting elements – formation aerobatics, opposing flybys, and nonstop action. Because the Patrouille perform with eight jets instead of six, they can put together some larger formations and utilize multiple groups of aircraft in a similar fashion to the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, who perform with nine CT-114 Tutors. The French team also makes use of red- and blue-colored smoke, which might not sound like much but adds to the performance significantly and is a rare sight here in the US.

Patrouille de France US Tour 2017French Air Force Airbus A400M - Patrouille de France US Tour 2017

As a special treat, the team’s Airbus A400M Atlas support aircraft also took to the skies for a few flybys. It is accompanying the team all throughout their tour to transport their crew and equipment, and can also serve as a photo platform during their planned flyovers of US landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty and New York City. This marked the first ever airshow performance by an A400M in the US and although it is far from the maximum performance company demonstration, it was an exciting addition to the lineup! You can check it out in the video below.

Disney World Visitors Treated To Blue Angel Flyovers

posted in: Flyovers, Jet Teams | 0
US Navy Blue Angels - Walt Disney World Flyover
Photo: Walt Disney World

Visitors to Walt Disney World got a special treat today when the US Navy Blue Angels performed a pair of flyovers above the Magic Kingdom park. The six-ship delta formation flew down Main Street USA before performing a Delta Breakout over the iconic Cinderella Castle. Photos of the flyby were all over social media following the flight; the appearance clearly thrilled the crowds below.

The team performed a similar flyover in 2015 while transiting from NAS Pensacola to Melbourne, FL for an airshow. This year they were on their way to the massive Sun ‘n Fun airshow in nearby Lakeland, FL. We live-streamed their practice over on the AirshowStuff Facebook page after their arrival there.

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