Blue Angels Preparing Fat Albert For Return To Airshows This Summer

posted in: Jet Teams | 2

US Navy Blue Angels - C-130 Hercules Fat Albert

Could Fat Albert, the US Navy Blue Angels’ C-130 transport, return to airshows soon? There are several indications that say yes!

During an interview with NewsRadio1620 on May 30th, Commander Doyle (Blue Angel #1) said that the team is working on getting the current Fat Albert repaired and operational – potentially in time for the Pensacola Beach airshow, traditionally held in July. This year’s show will be held July 11-14th.

The road to get Bert flying again has been a long one. Fat Albert and the rest of the Marine Corps C-130T Hercules fleet has been grounded since the 2017 crash of a C-130 in Mississippi that killed all 16 service members onboard. Before that, Bert missed airshows while undergoing an extensive overhaul. Ironically, she returned to shows at the Pensacola Beach airshow in 2017.

We’ve also seen some pictures posted recently on social media that lead us to believe Bert will be back to flying status soon.

The potential return of Bert to flying status isn’t the only interesting thing going on with the famous blue and gold C-130. In March, we wrote about a government contract that solicited a Royal Air Force C-130J to replace Bert. Not many details have come out about the potential acquisition of the airframe to replace the current C-130T model.

AirshowStuff has reached out to the Blue Angels for comment on this.

Dan Buchanan Killed In Hang Glider Accident At Mountain Home AFB Airshow

posted in: Airshows | 2

An accident at an airshow in Idaho has killed hang glider pilot Dan Buchanan.

Buchanan was flying at the Gunfighter Skies Air and Space Celebration at Mountain Home Air Force Base.

At this time, the cause of the crash is unknown.

The remainder of Saturday’s show, including the performance by the USAF Thunderbirds, was canceled. Sunday’s airshow will be held, as a tribute to Dan.

In 1981, Buchanan was injured in a different hang glider incident. That accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Despite this handicap, Dan returned to flying within six months and flew his first airshow in 1989.

Buchanan was a popular performer on the airshow circuit, with his daytime and nighttime glider routines. Over the years his awards and accolades have included the Art Scholl Award for Showmanship, the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship and the ICAS Special Achievement Award.

Follow along in our forums for further updates.

Canadian Snowbirds Visit Blue Angels, Perform In Pensacola

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

Snowbirds and Blue Angels at Pensacola

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds made a visit to NAS Pensacola, home of the US Navy Blue Angels, ahead of their show in Anderson, SC.

The team arrived Sunday night, and joined the Blues in ‘buzzing the beach’, their tradition when returning home from a show. Because the Snowbirds were low on fuel, the teams did not join up but flew along the white sandy beaches of Pensacola at the same time.

Fans in the area also got a special treat during the week from the Canadian team as they practiced over the base. Traditionally, the Blue Angels practice during the week at Pensacola, with performances open to the public. To have two jet teams perform several times in one week was quite the show!

The teams took the opportunity to ride with each other and discuss best practices. Last year, the US Air Force Thunderbirds stopped by Pensacola for a similar visit.

The teams also took some time to sign autographs following their practice performance.

Snowbirds and Blue Angels Sign AutographsSnowbirds and Blue Angels at Pensacola

Snowbirds and Blue Angels Sign Autographs

Snowbirds and Blue Angels at Pensacola

Thunder In The Valley Airshow To Cease Operations Following 2018 Airshow

posted in: Airshows | 0

Thunder in the Valley Airshow Ceases Operations

The Thunder in the Valley airshow, held annually in Columbus, GA will not be returning in 2019.

The Board of Directors of the event announced that due to raising costs and a difficulty in obtaining sponsorship money, the event would not continue.

“We feel the air show competes with many other events for the same patrons’ time and money, as well as corporate sponsorship dollars. We’ve had great success for 21 years, and we believe the time is right to bring the show to an end,” Phaedra Childers, the event coordinator said.

The air show, which began in 1997 as a local fly-in, had grown to be one of the largest outdoor family events in the Chattahoochee Valley. An average of 10,000 guests per day attended the show each year. Over the show’s 21 year history, more than $1 million in donations have been donated back to Chattahoochee Valley youth organizations and charities from the profits the show collects.

The 2018 edition of the show was held in April and included performances by the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, Viper Airshows, Kent Pietsch and others.

U.S. Pilot Elgin Wells Killed While Practicing for Chinese Airshow

posted in: Airshows | 29

Elgin Wells, known for his “Starjammer” routine was killed when his aerobatic aircraft crashed during a practice flight ahead of the Zhengzhou airshow in Zhengzhou, China.

The crash occurred around 6:14pm local time on Wednesday the 26th of April. An investigation into the cause of the crash is underway.

The Zhengzhou Air Show is scheduled to kick off on Friday, April 27th and last until May 1st. Several airshow performers from the United States are scheduled to perform. In March, Well’s aircraft was shipped to China in preparation for the show.

Wells was a native of the Atlanta, GA area. From the age of 14, he began playing instruments and singing. His band, the “The Elgin Wells Group” won several awards, including the New South Music Award for Best Jazz Band. He has produced 12 albums, mainly in the jazz and blues genre.

He began flying in 1968 at the age of 18. His father, a fighter squadron commander who served in the Pacific during WW2 was a career pilot with delta Airlines. Elgin’s dad wanted him to join the airlines, but all Wells wanted to do was fly aerobatics. In the early 2000s, Elgin was flying Unlimited low level aerobatic competitions and helped lead a team of airshow pilots known as “Airshow Unlimited.”

Starjammer

In 1996, Wells began building the StarJammer, which has 250+ lights and a 4,000 watt amplifier and onboard loudspeakers as a sound system. As the World’s only aircraft of it’s kind, the StarJammer combines aerobatics and music together in one unique performance for both daytime and nighttime airshows.

Photo compliments of Elgin Wells Website

Rob Holland Back In The Air After Crash Landing; Will Resume 2018 Airshow Schedule

posted in: Aerobatics | 1

Rob Holland

Airshow pilot and four time consecutive world freestyle champion Rob Holland is ready to take to the skies at airshows across the states again after being reacquainted with an old friend.

Holland has leased his previous MX2 from the current owner, Marty Flournoy. Holland sold the aircraft to Flourney, himself an aerobatic pilot, after acquiring the custom-built MXS-RH that was heavily damaged in a forced landing a few weeks ago.

Rob says this is his way of “moving forward” with the 2018 show season following the incident. The aircraft has already been painted and wrapped in sponsor logos.

You can view Rob Holland’s 2018 show schedule on our forums.

Here’s a video of Rob flying his old MX2 at the 2010 Rockford Airfest.

Blue Angels Look To Royal Air Force For Replacement Fat Albert Aircraft

posted in: Jet Teams | 3

Blue Angels Look to RAF for C-130J

“Fat Albert” could soon be traveling with the Blue Angels, thanks in part to the Royal Air Force.

FBO.gov, the Federal Government’s Contracting website posted a contract notice looking for an urgent replacement for the Blue’s current Bert.

The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) intends to negotiate and award a sole source contract with the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MOD), Whitehall, London, United Kingdom for the procurement of one (1) C-130J under the authority of FAR 6.302-1, “Only One Responsible Source and No Other Supplies or Services Will Satisfy Agency Requirements.” The Government requires a suitable replacement aircraft, which must be delivered in an expeditious manner, to avoid a gap in logistical support of the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron. The aircraft being procured from the UK MOD has the requisite amount of life and technical capability to support the Blue Angels mission.

The Blue Angels have been without their famous “Fat Albert” since last summer, when the crash of a KC-130T aircraft grounded the fleet. The Navy and Marine Corp’s fleet of aircraft remain grounded. Recently, the Blue Angels announced new pilots for Fat Albert.

The Royal Air Force currently has a surplus of C-130J models that have been placed in storage.

The acquisition of a new C-130 for the Blue Angels brings several benefits to the squadron. First, it permanently fills a gap left by their current aircraft being grounded. In recent seasons, the team has had to rely on trucks or borrowing a KC-130T (mainly when Bert was undergoing maintenance) to fly in Bert’s place. The second thing a new aircraft offers is a chance to potentially change Bert’s routine.

No timeline has been given for this replacement aircraft, but the fact one is potentially coming is a step forward in this saga of trouble for Bert. Hopefully we’ll see her flying in the skies at an airshow soon!

Add your thoughts on this surprising news in our forums!

See the Blue Angels 2018 schedule

Information from TheDrive.com contributed to this story

Luke Days 2018 Airshow Changes Dates; Secures New Jet Team

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 8

US Navy Blue Angels

Luke Air Force Base confirmed today that their 2018 airshow will be getting not only new dates, but a new headliner as well. The Luke Days 2018 event will now be held on March 17-18 instead of March 10-11.

The new dates were necessary in order to secure the US Navy Blue Angels as the main attraction. It will be their first time appearing at Luke since 1992, and fills a previously open weekend on their schedule. Base Public Affairs has told us that the rest of the lineup will remain the same.

The US Air Force Thunderbirds display team was scheduled to perform on the original dates, but they are currently scheduled to be in Melbourne, FL on the 17th and 18th and will not be able to perform at Luke. However, this news only adds to rumors that the team will be extending their winter training period in order to train up the new #1 pilot.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh took over as Thunderbird #1 in December following the surprise dismissal of the previous squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jason Heard. Although Walsh served as Thunderbird #7 for two years before being placed in charge of the squadron, he came into the role with no experience flying the demonstration. At the time, we speculated that the sudden change in lead pilot could mandate additional training time.

The move by Luke to cancel on the Thunderbirds is an extremely unusual one, and the simplest explanation is that the Thunderbirds notified Luke that their planned appearance was either in question or written off altogether. This makes even more sense since the Wings Over Atlanta airshow at Dobbins AFB in Georgia, another March show that expected to host the Thunderbirds, announced their cancelation earlier this month. The uncertainty of a jet team appearance could certainly lead to the financial concerns that they cited as the cause.

Ultimately this is all speculation at this point, as there has been no official announcement made regarding the Thunderbirds changing their schedule; everything has come from the shows themselves. The Melbourne Air and Space Show is now the only remaining March appearance for the Thunderbirds, so it will be telling whether they make any announcements regarding the team.

As always, we welcome your own thoughts and comments on this topic in our forums, where you can also see the remainder of the USAF Thunderbirds 2018 schedule as well as the 2018 airshow schedule for the US Navy Blue Angels!

2017 Jet Team Seasons Coming To A Close

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 0

Blue Angels 2017 Season About to End

As the temperatures cool, the 2017 airshow season is coming to a close. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds wrapped up their season on October 22nd, in Moose Jaw, SK with their traditional home show for families.

The Blue Angels have a couple shows left before their traditional home closer at NAS Pensacola. The team will perform in Jacksonville, FL on November 4-5th before returning to Pensacola for the November 11-12th end of season show. The 2017 season has been one of ups and downs for the team, with Fat Albert being grounded for an extended amount of time due to a maintenance overhaul and a fleet grounding which ordered after a Marine C-130 crashed in Mississippi in July. On a positive note, the six blue and gold jets performed full displays at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in late July for the first time ever.

The Thunderbirds will also wrap up their 2017 show season at Nellis AFB on November 11-12th. The team performed in 36 cities, along with many additional flyovers, during the show season. The team performed flyovers of both the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500, and traveled across the Atlantic to fly at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and appeared in the French Bastille Day military parade.

All three North American jet teams had the rare opportunity to fly with their Patrouille de France counterparts during their tour of US and Canada in the spring. The PAF visited the Blue Angels in Pensacola, the Thunderbirds at Nellis, and the Snowbirds in Ontario, making for some spectacular and rare photo opportunities.

Didn’t get a chance to see one of the jet teams in 2017? Check out the preliminary 2018 schedules for the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels to see if they’ll be near you next year. Keep in mind that the 2018 schedules for all three teams will be released/updated at the annual ICAS convention during the second week of December. Stay tuned to AirshowStuff for the details as soon as they are available!

CONFIRMED: A-10 Warthog Aerobatic Demonstrations Returning In 2018!

posted in: Airshows, Military | 0

A-10 Thunderbolt II

Get ready Warthog fans! The wait is over. A-10 Warthog single-ship demonstrations will return to the skies at airshows across the nation in 2018.

In a statement released by Air Combat Command this week, we learned an A-10 demonstration team will be based at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. They will perform at approximately 14 airshows during the 2018 show season. This follows a Twitter post by the current A-10 Heritage Flight team, which we reported on last week, that hinted at a coming announcement. There is no word on what will happen to the current East Coast A-10 Heritage Flight Team, based at Moody AFB in GA.

You may remember due to budget restrictions and sequestration, single ship demos were restricted after the 2011 season. Heritage Flights were performed in 2012 and 2017, but no aerobatic demonstrations were allowed.

Here is the text of the announcement shared by ICAS and ACC:

The United States Air Force A-10 demonstration team will once again display the capabilities of the Thunderbolt II at approximately 14 shows throughout the 2018 air show season.

The A-10 demonstration team last flew in 2011. Since then, when it has participated in air shows, the A-10 has been either a static display aircraft or flown exclusively with the Air Force Heritage Flight program (in 2012 and 2017). In 2018, the Warthog will fly a full aerobatic demonstration and also perform in Heritage Flight demonstrations.

Specifically designed for close air support, the A-10’s combination of high and low speed maneuverability has made it a popular air show demonstration aircraft for many years. Beginning next year, the A-10 demo team – based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona – will be flown by Captain Cody Wilton.

Are you excited to see the return of Warthog demos? What shows do you think may get an A-10 demonstration in 2018?

Visit our forums to discuss this exciting news!

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