Former Blue Angel Explains Super Hornet Transition Plans, Talks New Routine

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 2

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

We now know a lot more about the US Navy Blue Angelscoming transition to the F/A-18E Super Hornet thanks to former Blue Angel #1 Captain Ryan Bernacchi. He spoke to Newsradio 1620 in the team’s hometown of Pensacola, FL recently, and explained not only the difference between the team’s current F/A-18 “Legacy” Hornets and the coming Super Hornets, but also the current status of the transition.

Bernacchi started by explaining why the transition is going forward in the first place. When the Blues began flying Hornets in the late ’80s, significant engineering work was done to modify the jet for airshows. This work applied to the A and B model Hornets. More recently, similar work was done to prepare some older C and D model Hornets for shows as well. These modifications include things like the smoke system and the ability to fly inverted for longer than a stock jet. Although the team has continued to fly these older jets, they are aging and relatively few usable airframes remain eligible for the already approved modifications. In response, the Blues were forced to look at either pursuing younger Legacy Hornets or transitioning to Super Hornets.

Their findings are very interesting. Bernacchi says that even though the Legacy Hornets are now retired from active Navy service – the final operational flight was February 1st – the vast majority of the youngest airframes are earmarked for service with the Marine Corps and Navy Reserves. A middle group of airframes from production lots 13 and 14 were available to the team, but had enough differences from the team’s current aircraft that they required a similar engineering effort for airshow modifications. Surprisingly, the end conclusion was that it would cost roughly the same amount to transition to anything newer than the team’s existing jets, whether moving to newer Legacy Hornets or Super Hornets! The final decision to go to Super Hornets was made this past December.

Here’s a video showing Legacy Hornets and Super Hornets flying side by side:

So when can we look forward to new jets in the distinctive blue and gold paint scheme? Bernacchi says that the current plan is to have 11 modified Super Hornets – early production models that never saw operational service – ready for winter training at the end of 2020. They would debut in the spring of 2021. This matches the preliminary 2020 airshow schedule released by the Blues, which is notable for ending a month earlier than usual. We speculated that this was to allow extra time for the off-season transition, and that appears to be the case.

Bernacchi is also quick to point out that this project will take a backseat to maintaining and upgrading the frontline force, so it may slip due to potential budget cuts or other difficulties. The team can continue performing in their current jets for some time if it does get pushed back, but he was careful to emphasize that the new jets are not combat-ready models and they are not coming from any combat units.

What will the show look like after the transition? Bernacchi and former Blue Angel solo pilot Cdr. Frank “Walleye” Weisser spent time at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland analyzing the aircraft’s capabilities and fit for the team. His verdict after flying maneuvers in a simulator and in real life is that it will work well for the team, but it will require some adjustments. One maneuver – which Bernacchi did not name – is likely to be modified or dropped, but he feels some others will look better than they do now.

One proposal is for the diamond and solos to each drop one maneuver in order to streamline the show and improve the flow during the routine. This would shorten the show slightly, but even just three minutes per flight spread over ten performances (including practices) a week adds up to dozens of hours of airframe time saved each year. Bernacchi says that in addition to vetting the aircraft systems for potential failures, they spent a great deal of time looking into other factors of aircraft fatigue like how certain maneuvers and rejoins are flown. Although he did not go into specifics, he said they came up with a plan to substantially reduce the fatigue impact on the airframes, which will extend their lives with the team.

What do you think the mystery maneuver is? Feel free to take a guess and add your thoughts on the transition in our forums! Also make sure to visit our airshow calendar to see where you can watch a Blue Angels performance in 2019 and 2020.

BREAKING: US Navy Blue Angels Pilot Suffers Landing Mishap In El Centro

posted in: Jet Teams | 2

US Navy Blue Angels F-18 Hornet - AirshowStuff

An unnamed pilot of the US Navy Blue Angels was thankfully uninjured after a landing mishap at NAF El Centro today. The pilot was landing at the base when the aircraft’s main landing gear failed to extend properly. The pilot was able to make an emergency landing with the F-18 Hornet without injuring himself or anyone on the ground.

The incident is under investigation.

The Blue Angels are in the middle of their winter training period at El Centro. They use the base for their training flights every year because the remote location and good weather allow for excellent training conditions. Their airshow season is scheduled to start in March.

This incident should not impact the season, although they have struggled with aircraft availability in recent years after several major incidents grounded some of the jets assigned to the team. Depending on how severe the damage to the aircraft is, it may be grounded for some time.

The team will be transitioning to F/A-18E Super Hornets in the coming years, although no firm timetable for the change has been announced yet.

This is a breaking story with few details immediately available. We will bring you more information as it becomes known. You can join the discussion and look for more info in our forums.

New Photo Album – Airshow London 2018

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

A-10 Warthog at Airshow London 2018 - AirshowStuff

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! This album is from Airshow London 2018 in London, Ontario. Check it out here: Airshow London 2018 – Ryan Sundheimer

Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!

US Navy Blue Angels 2019 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 37

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for the US Navy Blue Angels! Will you see them in 2019? Let us know! Post in the AirshowStuff Forums or on the AirshowStuff Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

Schedules often change during the year – make sure to check out our airshow calendar for an updated list of airshows and aviation events, plus this and other major schedules all listed in one place! You can also check our forums for discussion on the schedule and shows!

2019 US Navy Blue Angels Airshow Appearance Schedule

March 16-17: NAF El Centro Air Show – NAF El Centro, CA
March 23-24: California International Airshow – Salinas, CA
March 30-31: NAS Key West Southernmost Air Show – NAS Key West, FL

April 6-7: Sun-n-Fun Fly-In Expo – Lakeland, FL
April 13-14: Wings Over South Texas – NAS Corpus Christi, TX
April 20-21: OFF WEEK
April 27-28: MCAS Beaufort Air Show – MCAS Beaufort, SC

May 4-5: Ford Lauderdale Air Show – Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 11-12: JB Andrews Air Show – JB Andrews, MD
May 18-19: Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival – Cape Girardeau, MO
May 22: U.S. Naval Academy Air Show – Annapolis, MD
May 24: U.S. Naval Academy Graduation Flyover – Annapolis, MD
May 25-26: Miami Beach Air & Sea Show – Miami Beach, FL

June 1-2: Star Spangled Salute Air Show – Tinker AFB, OK
June 8-9: Great Tennessee Air Show – Smyrna, TN
June 15-16: Ocean City Airshow – Ocean City, MD
June 22-23: OFF WEEK
June 29-30: Quad City Air Show – Davenport, IA

July 6-7: KC Downtown Air Show – Kansas City, MO
July 13: Pensacola Beach Airshow – Pensacola Beach, FL
July 20-21: Duluth Air Show and Aviation Expo – Duluth, MN
July 27-28: Grand Junction Air Show – Grand Junction, CO

August 3-4: Seafair Boeing Air Show – Seattle, WA
August 17-18: 61st Chicago Air And Water Show – Chicago, IL
August 24-25: New York Air Show – Stewart ANG Base, Newburgh, NY
August 31-September 1: Atlantic Canada International Air Show – Greenwood, NS

September 7-8: Spirit of St. Louis Air Show – Chesterfield, MO
September 14-15: OFF WEEK
September 21-22: NAS Lemoore Central Valley Air Show – NAS Lemoore, CA
September 28-29: MCAS Miramar Air Show – MCAS Miramar, CA

October 5-6: California Capital Airshow – Sacramento, CA
October 12-13: San Francisco Fleet Week – San Francisco, CA
October 19-20: Fort Worth Alliance Air Show – Fort Worth, TX
October 26-27: Jacksonville Sea and Sky Spectacular – Jacksonville Beach, FL

November 2-3: Thunder Over South Georgia – Moody AFB, GA
November 8-9: Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow – NAS Pensacola, FL

Want to look a little further ahead? We also have a copy of the preliminary 2020 US Navy Blue Angels schedule!

US Navy Blue Angels 2020 Preliminary Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 5

US Navy Blue Angels

Here is the preliminary 2020 airshow schedule for the US Navy Blue Angels! This schedule has been released on a preliminary basis only, and will likely see notable changes. Please make sure to check back with us in December of 2019 when an updated 2020 schedule is released!

Preliminary US Navy Blue Angels 2020 Appearance Schedule

March 14: NAF El Centro Airshow – El Centro, CA
March 21-22: LA County Air Show – Lancaster, CA
March 28-29: MacDill Air Fest – MacDill AFB, FL

April 4-5: Wings Over South Texas Airshow – NAS Kingsville, TX
April 18-19: Joint Base Charleston Air & Space Expo – JB Charleston, SC
April 25-26: Vero Beach Air Show – Vero Beach, FL

May 2-3: MCAS Cherry Point Air Show and Open House – MCAS Cherry Point, NC
May 9-10: Dyess Big County Airfest – Dyess AFB, TX
May 16-17: Power in the Pines Open House and Air Show – McGuire AFB, NJ
May 20: U.S. Naval Academy Air Show – Annapolis, MD
May 22: U.S. Naval Academy Graduation Flyover – Annapolis, MD
May 23-24: Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach Park – Jones Beach, NY
May 30-31: OFF

June 6-7: Scott AFB Air and Space Show – Scott AFB, IL
June 13-14:Chippewa Valley Air Show – Eau Claire, WI
June 20-21: Memphis Air Show – Millington, TN
June 27-28: Dayton Air Show, Dayton, OH

July 4-5: National Cherry Festival Airshow – Traverse City, MI
July 11: Pensacola Beach Air Show – Pensacola, FL
July 18-19: OFF
July 25-26: Milwaukee Air and Water Show – Milwaukee, WI

August 1-2: Boeing SeaFair Airshow – Seattle, WA
August 8-9: 4 Wing Cold Lake Air Show – Cold Lake AB, Canada (Expected to move to July 18-19)
August 15-16: Great State of Maine Air Show – Brunswick, ME
August 22-23: OFF
August 29-30: Thunder Over Michigan – Ypsilanti, MI

September 5-6: Cleveland National Air Show – Cleveland, OH
September 12-13: Maryland Fleet Week and Air Show Baltimore – Baltimore, MD
September 19-20: NAS Oceana Airshow – NAS Oceana, Virginia Beach, VA
September 26-27: MCAS Miramar Air Show – MCAS Miramar, CA

October 3-4: Naval Base Ventura County Airshow – NAS Pt. Mugu, CA
October 10-11: San Francisco Fleet Week – San Francisco, CA
October 16-17: Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show – NAS Pensacola, FL

Again, this schedule is for 2020. If you’re looking for 2019 Blue Angel airshow appearances, check out US Navy Blue Angels 2019 Airshow Schedule Released

Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team 2019 Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 0

RCAF CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for the Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team! Will you see them in 2019? Let us know! Post in the AirshowStuff Forums or on the AirshowStuff Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

Schedules often change during the year – make sure to check out our airshow calendar for an updated list of airshows and aviation events, plus this and other major schedules all listed in one place! You can also check our forums for discussion on the schedule and shows!

2019 Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team Appearance Schedule

June 8-9: Val-d’Or, QC
June 12: North Bay, ON
June 22-23: Bagotville, QC
June 29: Barrie, ON

July 1: Ottawa, ON (Canada Day Flyover)
July 6-7: Moose Jaw, SK
July 20: Boundary Bay, BC
July 27-28: Springbank, AB

August 3-4: Quesnel, BC
August 9-11: Abbotsford, BC
August 17-18: Edmonton, AB
August 28: Brantford, ON
August 31-September 2: Toronto, ON

September 7-8: Gatineau, QC
September 13-15: London, ON
September 21-22: Bromont, QC

The Blue Angels’ Super Hornet Transition Is Still Years Away

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 0

US Navy Blue Angels - F-18 Hornets

Fans of the US Navy Blue Angels expecting to see the team perform in Super Hornets will have to wait several more years at least. The Department of Defense announced today that Boeing has been awarded a contract for the documentation and kits to convert nine single-seat F/A-18Es and two dual-seat F/A-18Fs to Blue Angel configuration. The most notable part of the announcement is that this work is not expected to be completed before December of 2021, which would seemingly prevent the team from transitioning until 2022 or more likely 2023 at the earliest.

The team currently flies aging F/A-18B/C/D “Legacy” Hornets. The old and worn down jets create many maintenance issues for the squadron and it has become more and more common to see performances limited by the number of available aircraft, even though a spare travels with the team.

Several major incidents, including the crash of Blue Angel #6 Capt. Jeff Kuss in 2016, left the team with even fewer spares than usual. Even with the coming transition, the team has continued to receive additional Hornets as the Navy retires them from frontline units in favor of Super Hornets and F-35 Lightning IIs.

The Super Hornet transition has been public knowledge for a while now, a firm timeline has never been announced to the public; likely because even the Navy didn’t have firm plans. Certain details have emerged from interviews and previous contract announcements, but many fans have drawn false conclusions from these tidbits that the transition was/is imminent; one airshow vendor went as far as to create ‘Hornet Farewell Tour’ t-shirts during the 2017 season. Today’s announcement gives some clarity to the situation, and serves as a needed reality check on rumors and speculation.

Want to see the Blue Angels perform in person? Check out their 2018 airshow schedule and preliminary 2019 airshow schedule!

Here is the full text of the announcement:
The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is being awarded $17,002,107 for firm-fixed-price delivery order N0001918F2654 against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-16-G-0001). This order is for the retrofit documentation and kits to convert nine F/A-18E and two F/A-18F aircraft into a Blue Angel configuration in accordance with engineering change proposal 6480. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be completed in December 2021. Fiscal 2018 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $17,002,107 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

Memorial To Honor Blue Angel Pilot Nears Completion, Public Dedication

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

Blue Angels Memorial in Smyrna

The finishing touches are being put on a memorial to honor Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, who was killed when his F/A-18 Hornet crashed during a practice flight demonstration in Smyrna, Tennessee in June 2016.

Kuss, who was in his second year on the team, was loved by many. He also was popular in the media, since his position as the team’s 2015 narrator also enabled him to give rides to media, VIPs, and local influencers at each show site the Blue Angels attended.

Following the crash, the town of Smyrna wanted to honor Kuss in a special way. In May of 2017, plans were announced to build a permanent memorial for the fallen Blue Angels pilot outside the airport and adjacent to Lee Victory Recreation Park, where the town came together the night of the crash to honor Kuss. Plans for the memorial included pavers, which could be bought for a small donation, and a retired F/A-18 Hornet in Blue Angel colors.

Kuss Memorial Groundbreaking

On October 18th, 2017, groundbreaking for the memorial was held.

On Friday, the most prominent part of the memorial was installed. A retired Blue Angel jet, BuNo 163498, was lifted by crane from a flatbed trailer and into position on an elevated platform in the memorial. The aircraft is on permanent loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

Kuss Memorial F-18 Hornet - Smyrna, TNKuss Memorial F-18 Hornet - Smyrna, TN

In a video posted by the Town of Smyrna, some F/A-18 hornets are seen flying over the Blue Angel jet. The flyover was performed by members of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101), based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, CA. They flew in from California on Thursday, and waited until the plane was placed to do the flyover, then departed on their way to NAS Oceana, VA.

The memorial dedication will be held on June 9 at 10:00 a.m. at Lee Victory Recreation Park in Smyrna and is open the public. For those who can’t attend, the ceremony will be streamed live. Stay tuned to our social media channels for more info.

2018 US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet Demonstration Airshow Schedules Released

posted in: Military, Schedules | 0

US Navy F-18 Super Hornet Demonstration Team

The 2018 schedule for the US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet Demo Teams has been released, but there’s not a whole lot to see. Due to training and other requirements, the demo teams are severely limited in their performances this year. As of the April release, only four shows have been approved with two listed as tentative.

In a statement, Navy TAC Demo said “both VFA-106 and VFA-122 are Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS), sometimes referred to by the old Navy term “RAG” or Replacement Air Group. The primary mission of each squadron is to provide the fleet with trained replacement aircrew to support fleet requirements. At this time, each squadron must focus on training newly winged aviators and flight officers on employing the Super Hornet to defend our country. This mission must take priority over flying these remarkable aircraft at air shows.”

While the limited number of shows certainly is disappointing, schedules often change during the year – so for the latest updates please be sure to check our forums! More shows could be added.

2018 Appearance Schedule – US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet Demonstration Teams

April 14-15: Sun-N-Fun, Lakeland Regional Airport – Lakeland, FL
April 21-22: Thunder Over Louisville – Louisville, KY

May 5-6: Ford Lauderdale Air Show – Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 26-27: Miami Beach Air and Sea Show – Miami Beach, FL

The following shows are approved for TACDEMO participation; however, actual participation will be determined in May.

June 9-10: Thunder of Niagara, Niagara Falls ARS – Niagara Falls, NY
June 30-July 1: Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show – Battle Creek, MI

Will you see them in 2018? Let us know! Post in the AirshowStuff Forums or on the AirshowStuff Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

2018 CF-18 Demonstration Jet Debuts With Beautiful “NORAD 60” Paint Scheme

posted in: Military | 0

2018 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team - NORAD Paint Scheme

Take a look at this beautiful jet! The Royal Canadian Air Force took the wraps off of the special paint scheme developed for the 2018 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team this past week. Although illustrations of the design were shared in January, the finished aircraft was debuted publicly in a ceremony at CFB Cold Lake on Tuesday.

2018 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team - NORAD Paint Scheme2018 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team - NORAD Paint Scheme

Each year, the RCAF designates one CF-18 Hornet as the primary demonstration aircraft, and paints it up in a special scheme. The designs have ranged from vertical fin designs to brightly colored, full-aircraft designs. The 2018 scheme celebrates 60 years of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD. You can read more about the design and some of the special elements it incorporates in our previous post.

2018 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team - NORAD Paint Scheme2018 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team - NORAD Paint Scheme
Photos courtesy of Canadian Forces CF-18 Demo Team on Facebook

Demonstration pilot Captain Stefan “Porcelain” Porteous will be performing in the jet all over Canada and the United States in 2018. Check out the 2018 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration schedule to see if he will be appearing near you!

Hats off to the paint crew for a superb job, and thank you to Steve Bigg of Locked On Photography for allowing us to share his photos!

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