Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!
Following the tragic crash of their P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck”, in which pilot Vlado Lenoch and passenger Bethany Root were killed, the Warbird Heritage Foundation has announced that they are standing down from flight operations immediately, and canceling all future 2017 airshow appearances for their aircraft. The foundation is based in Waukegan, IL. In addition to Baby Duck, they own an A-4 Skyhawk, F-86 Sabre, T-2 Buckeye, L-39 Albatros, A-1 Skyraider, T-28 Trojan, and more.
This stand down almost certainly means that their aircraft will not be present at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh next week. Their absence would also be a major blow to the Northern Illinois Airshow in Waukegan if they do not resume flights by early September.
Here is the full statement from the WHF Facebook page:
All of us at the Warbird Heritage Foundation are deeply saddened at the death of our close friend and superb fellow pilot, Vlado Lenoch.
Vlado and a passenger passed away yesterday morning while flying in our P-51 Mustang, “Baby Duck”.
The Warbird Heritage Foundation will make no further comment regarding this tragic event until after the FAA, NTSB, and other relevant parties have completed their respective investigations.
Effective immediately, all WHF flight operations will be temporarily suspended until further notice. Also, the Warbird Heritage Foundation is cancelling the airshow appearances of all of our aircraft for the remainder of the 2017 airshow season.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to Vlado’s family and friends and to the family and friends of the passenger aboard “Baby Duck”.
Turkeys CAN Fly!
We here at AirshowStuff.com think you’ll agree that few things sound better than the radial engine of a classic warbird. Unless, of course, it’s SIX radial engines! In 2016, the Illinois Regional Valley airport in Peru, IL hosted their first TBM Avenger Gathering where ten TBM Avengers (along with many other classic warbirds) met for an unforgettable weekend showcasing this legend of World War II. Affectionately nicknamed “The Turkey” for its large size, the Avenger was designed as a torpedo bomber and saw action in the Pacific theater. Avengers were even piloted by such famous people as former President George H. W. Bush and movie star Paul Newman!
From taxi to landing, you get a cockpit view from one of the immaculately-restored Avengers taking part in a formation flight at dusk. The golden glow of the sunset, along with the six other Avengers, makes for some spectacular scenery. You’ll see various formations being flown, and even get a glimpse of a T-6 Texan photo ship capturing the action as well. The sound of the radial engine’s throaty roar takes you back to when these large aircraft patrolled the skies, looking for Japanese ships. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this thrilling video and all it has to offer, you won’t be disappointed!
Be sure to browse the AirshowStuffVideos channel on YouTube for more great videos.
The Gathering of TBM Avengers will return for the second year in a row and promises to be even bigger and better! This year a whopping sixteen TBMs (and TBFs) have verbally committed to the event, which will be held on Saturday, May 20th in Peru, IL. Numerous other warbird crews have expressed interest in flying in as well, including B-25 Mitchells, A-1 Skyraiders, and P-51 Mustangs, as well as an F4U Corsair, F8F Bearcat, F4F Wildcat, F-86 Sabre, MiG-17 Fresco, and T-33 Shooting Star.
Over 250 aircraft (including 10 Avengers) and 10,000 people turned out for the first event last April, taking advantage of the beautiful weather to kick off the summer flying season. It was undoubtedly one of the best early-season events in the Midwest, and we are excited that it will be continuing.
This year’s event will be set up very similar to the last one. Attendees should plan to arrive at Illinois Valley Regional Airport (KVYS in Peru) in the mid-morning. Both parking and admission are free this year, thanks to the sponsorship of Marquis Energy! Food and drinks will be available on the airport, and several warbirds will be offering rides.
One important difference is that the airspace around the area will be “waivered” from 12 to 4pm. This will allow the warbirds to perform more than they could last year – it should feel a bit more like an airshow. Pilots that plan to fly in will need to be aware of the change.
With a little good weather, this event should again prove to be the grand opening of airshow season in these parts. Our own Anthony Richards designed this flyer for the event, which is being passed around as an open invitation to pilots and enthusiasts alike. We hope you will help us spread the word, and that you will join us there!
Be sure to check in on our forums for future updates, to share your thoughts, and to post your own photos from the event!
Say goodbye to the Rockford AirFest. The event has been canceled in 2017 and beyond, thanks to new tenants at the airport. The move is surprising as the show had already landed a coveted appearance by the US Air Force Thunderbirds on June 3rd and 4th of next year. Mike Dunn, the Airport’s Executive Director, says that the airport has gotten too busy to shut down operations for the show weekend.
The show had faced troubles recently, and was canceled in 2016 after scheduling conflicts with the US Air Force F-22 Raptor demonstration team that was the headline the event. Two different US Navy Blue Angel appearances were also canceled in recent years, but it nevertheless remained a popular attraction since its start in 2005. Rockford did not appear on either the Blue Angel or Thunderbirds preliminary schedules for 2018, but may have landed the F-22 Raptor demonstration.
With Rockford throwing in the towel, that weekend will now open up for the Thunderbirds. The airshow in Duluth, MN will already host the Blue Angels and Canadian Forces Snowbirds on those same dates, and may make a play for the rare privilege of hosting all three North American jet teams. More likely, another show currently without a jet team will land the Thunderbirds by changing dates. Be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow our social media channels for further updates when they are available!
In a surprise move, the Chicago-Rockford International Airport announced today that it will not hold its annual Rockford AirFest in 2016 after it was unable to reach an agreement with the US Air Force on an appearance by the F-22 Raptor. The show was left off of the Blue Angel and Thunderbird schedules released in December, but was very confident that the Raptor would be assigned to perform instead. The Air Force treats the F-22 as a major headlining act on the same level as the jet teams, and generally only sends it to shows without a team already performing.
The show was listed on several performer schedules as taking place the weekend of June 18-19, but according to airport’s Executive Director Mike Dunn it was originally planned for the first weekend of June. The F-22 was unable to make it that weekend because of the military’s Academy Week, and the Air Force proposed a shift to Memorial Day weekend. The organizers were unwilling to make that move due to competition with a nearby festival, and they ultimately reached an agreement with the Air Force for the 18-19th before the Air Force later ruled that weekend out as well, leading to the cancellation.
The move is very surprising because the show had already arranged a stronger lineup than most, including the USMC Harrier, the Breitling Jet Team, an expected US Navy F-18 Hornet demonstration, and a possible USAF F-16 demonstration in place of the F-22. The F-22 does not have the star power of the jet teams and the amount of attendance drop off stemming from its absence is questionable. There are two other larger shows in the region scheduled for that same weekend; St. Thomas, Ontario and Dayton, Ohio. It will be interesting to see how many of Rockford’s acts shift to them or even elsewhere.
The world’s oldest flyable jet, and one of the last remaining F-86A Sabres, S/N 48-178, took to the skies once again today in Rockford, IL. This is a major milestone in the recent acquisition of the Sabre by Heritage Aero Inc, which is based in Rockford, on behalf of a US collector. Paul Wood was at the controls for the two flights made by the Sabre, which was accompanied by a T-33 chase plane. The first flight was originally expected to occur before this year’s EAA AirVenture earlier in July, but was delayed by mechanical issues.
Sabre 48-178 has been through numerous private owners and restorations throughout it’s life, originating in Everett, WA in 1970 to Golden Apple Operations in the UK (1992)and finally to Heritage Aero late last year. These flights are a promising sign that we should see her on the airshow circuit next year!
All images courtesy of David Charles Lindberg
The Wings Over Waukegan airshow announced on Facebook today that the board of directors has elected to cancel the 2015 show, scheduled for September 12-13. The announcement cites lack of financial standing as well as aerobatic box logistics as the reasons behind the decision. This is extremely disappointing news for Midwest airshow fans, as the usually small, Saturday-only show was going to be much larger this year. The event was scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday, with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, CF-18 Hornet, and US Navy F/A-18 Hornet demonstration teams headlining alongside the traditionally featured warbirds from the Warbird Heritage Foundation, located on the field, as well as civilian aerobatic acts. There is no word yet on where the demonstration teams may perform instead.
Wings Over Waukegan will attempt to return with a one day show in 2016, currently scheduled for September 10.
Two new photo albums have gone up in our photo gallery! Check out a preview of each below and then be sure to follow the links to view the full albums.
Rockford Airfest 2015 – Patrick Barron
View full photo album: Rockford Airfest 2015 – Patrick Barron
Rockford Airfest 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer
View full photo album: Rockford Airfest 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer
Five Things is our regular feature to review the airshows that we attend. You already know that the performers were great, so instead of recapping who flew what, we want to jump straight to the most notable moments or stories; things that would remain in your head on the drive home and for a long time afterward.
Airshow: Wings Over Waukegan
Location: Waukegan, IL
Small Show Atmosphere
While airshows with jet teams and major gatherings get a lot of press, small shows are almost an entirely separate world. The layout is more intimate, the people are generally friendlier, and the gate rules are often relaxed. There is not an ‘ego’ to the event. Wings Over Waukegan is one of these small shows, and it provides a wonderful change of pace from larger blockbuster events. The entire show layout is smaller, and there are no chalet tents. The only tent, set up for performers and other VIPs, is at one end of the show line. The performer aircraft were parked directly in front of the main crowd area with just enough room to taxi out. Before the show, this section of the ramp was open to the public to get up close with the performing aircraft and pilots, something rarely seen at large shows.
One Day Only
In fitting with the small show atmosphere, the event is only held for one day. This is not unheard of with smaller shows, but it certainly feels different to know that you cannot come back and see the same thing the next day. Photos must be taken with cautious settings as there is no second opportunity. This also makes the show organization much more vulnerable to bad weather since the crowd cannot alter their plans if rain or storms are forecast. Last year’s show dealt with large storms throughout the afternoon, but thankfully was successful enough to continue this year. However, the single day schedule is nice because it affords a chance to relax afterward without fear of an early morning to come.
Luckily for the show the weather this year was very nearly perfect. Cloudless blue skies helped the photographers use the show’s sun-at-your-back orientation to its full potential and temperatures in the low 70s kept everyone comfortable. The one factor that wasn’t favorable was the decently strong on-crowd wind, and it led to some interesting moments during the show. Only a few performers used smoke during their routine, but those that did quickly smothered the crowd with it. During the jet warbird segment it got so bad that the aircraft could not be seen until they were past. A T-33 making a high speed pass and suddenly appearing in front of you is a pretty cool sight!
Warbirds Front and Center
The core of the Wings Over Waukegan show is undoubtedly the warbirds. The Warbird Heritage Foundation, a major player in Midwest shows, is based on the field across from the crowd area and puts most of their aircraft on display each year. The WHF A-4 Skyhawk served as the show finale this year, but their P-51 Mustang, T-2 Buckeye, A-1 Skyraider, F-86 Sabre, and L-39 Albatros also either flew or sat on static display. Other warbirds came in for the show, including a T-37 Tweet that put on an impressively nimble aerobatic demo, and an F4U Corsair that performed aerobatics and a US Navy Legacy Flight with the A-4.
An Army of Cadets
One of the most stunning aspects of the Waukegan show was the massive number of cadets present. Be they Civil Air Patrol, Young Marines, or other groups with a similar purpose, the cadets and their handlers almost outnumbered the actual spectators at the show. Every static aircraft had a minimum of 3 to 5 cadets stationed around it on guard duty, making photos difficult or impossible to come by. Once the hot ramp closed, a line of cadets marched out to form a human wall in front of the spectators rather than simply setting up some sort of fence. Luckily some areas of the crowd line had normal snow fencing, but anyone with the misfortune of sitting behind the cadets surely had to feel angry at seeing a bunch of uniformed butts where aircraft should have been. Hopefully the show can look at this and come up with an alternate method of creating a crowd line. Dragging some stands out and running rope between them would not be difficult. On a positive note, the cadets were relatively relaxed and the power trips that have become all too familiar to airshow fans were not a problem. And when the only complaint about the show is a bunch of well behaved cadets, you know there isn’t much to complain about at all!
– Ryan Sundheimer