The US Navy Seems To Be Expanding Legacy Flights In 2019! What About Super Hornet Demos?

posted in: Military | 2

US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet - AirshowStuff

Last year was a rough one for the Navy’s single-ship demonstration presence at airshows. While F/A-18C Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet demonstration teams used to visit dozens of shows each year, they performed at just seven events (the six listed and their home show at NAS Oceana) in 2018. This dramatic decrease comes from a number of factors; busy training schedules, aircraft maintenance struggles, and the phasing out of F/A-18Cs.

At the same time, the US Air Force has steadily increased its airshow presence through the re-establishment of the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II demonstration teams, and the debut of the F-35 Heritage Flight team which is upgraded to a full demo team this year. The stark contrast is the result of the different approaches that the services take.

While USAF demos are flown by dedicated teams with specific aircraft, the Navy TACDEMOs are flown by a small group of fleet instructor pilots who are certified to perform the routine. They take jets from their Fleet Replacement Squadron (VFA-106 “Gladiators” at NAS Oceana in Virginia and VFA-122 “Flying Eagles” at NAS Lemoore in California), perform over the weekend, then return home for training during the week. Previously, VFA-125 “Rough Raiders” performed the F/A-18C demonstrations out of NAS Lemoore, but the unit was merged into VFA-122 in 2010 before converting to the Fleet Replacement Squadron for the new F-35C Lightning II in 2016.

This structure worked fine some years ago, but started to struggle as several factors came up in a short time span. The F/A-18Cs began to be phased out as the Navy replaced them with more Super Hornets. Budget cuts hindered maintenance efforts and jets spent more time on the ground despite high demand. Training is the absolute primary mission of the units and as aircraft wore down, their limited flight time was rightly directed to that mission. Airshow appearances shrunk and popular Legacy Flight performances, which pair one of the modern demonstration jets with one or more vintage Navy aircraft, became a thing of the past.

In 2018, fans were crushed to learn that only seven airshow appearances by VFA-106 – and none by VFA-122 – were approved. Legacy Flights did return, but were only performed by the demo crews at some of those few events. The Navy scheduling process has always been a bit confusing with schedules posted much later than other teams and many late additions, but this was still a shock and begged the question of what would happen in 2019 and beyond. Whispers at the time painted an extremely bleak picture and warned that demos might not even happen in 2019.

As we sit here in February of 2019, we have no further word on specific plans for TACDEMOs in 2019, but we are seeing signs that the Navy’s philosophy on airshow performances is changing. A couple shows, namely St. Louis and the Tacoma Freedom Fair, are advertising Legacy Flight performances where the modern jet will be an E/A-18G Growler instead of a Super Hornet from one of the traditional TACDEMO teams. Other shows are advertising Legacy Flight performances that include a T-45 Goshawk training jet, which has never had a regular airshow presence.

This represents a big shift which airshow fans should appreciate. By spreading the airshow appearances around to units outside of VFA-106 and VFA-122, it reduces the burden faced by any one unit and particularly the training units. It reduces the need for long transit flights by providing options for shows to pursue relatively local units, and it will likely increase the total number of shows that get a Navy performance. It also means greater variety for photographers to capture!

What does this mean for actual, full-up TACDEMOs though? Unfortunately, we’re still in the dark on that one and we may not find out for some time. It’s entirely possible that no full demonstrations will be flown in 2019, though a limited schedule seems more likely. A particularly observant member of our forums pointed out that there is a temporary flight restriction (TFR) posted for NAS Oceana this week, which usually indicates practice Super Hornet demonstrations. That is far from a confirmation that they will be performed in 2019, but it’s certainly not a bad sign!

Stay tuned to AirshowStuff for all of the latest news on Navy TACDEMOs and Legacy Flights, and be sure share your own thoughts on our forums!

US Navy Forum Teases Return Of Legacy Flights In 2018 – And More!

posted in: Military | 1

US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet

The jet team/military demo schedules are the highlight of each annual International Council of Airshows (ICAS) convention, but the military forums and presentations also have some interesting bits of info for fans. This year the Navy forum in particular yielded some very interesting and exciting news items.

First, the F/A-18C Hornet (AKA Baby Hornet or Legacy Hornet) demos appear to be a thing of the past. All F-18 demonstrations in 2018 will be either F/A-18E or F/A-18F Super Hornets. As in the past, they will be flown by a West Coast team out of NAS Lemoore, CA and an East Coast team out of NAS Oceana, VA. The F/A-18E demos will only be flown by Lemoore crews.

Second, and maybe the biggest news of the forum; Legacy Flights might be back! The presentation includes the requirements for a show to host a Legacy Flight, and says the performance will consist of a short profile similar to that flown in the past. Legacy Flights have not been regularly performed for years now, although a Super Hornet and Corsair formation flight was arranged at the Cleveland airshow this past September. No word yet on what warbirds might be among the approved performers.

The third major takeaway from the forum is that there appears to be no limit on Navy static displays in 2018! Each year since sequestration (2013) has seen the military branches place limits on how many of their aircraft could be approved for static display at each airshow. This has gradually been lifted each year and thankfully it appears to be a nonissue in 2018; static display ramps may be a little fuller this summer!

The schedule for the F-18 demonstrations is not expected to be released for a while, but the the teams are approved for 46 airshows total. As noted, we are currently seeking some more information on these topics and will post any updates that we receive!

WATCH: This Rare Super Hornet/Corsair Formation Showcases Decades Of Naval Aviation History

Visitors to the Cleveland National Airshow this past Labor Day weekend were treated to a special sight – a US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet and World War II-era F4U Corsair flying together! The pair performed several formation flybys before landing, then taxied together at show center and folded their wings to show their common bond as carrier-based fighters. Check out the entire performance in our video above!

This sort of sight used to be fairly commonplace through the US Navy Tailhook Legacy Flight program, which is similar to the US Air Force’s Heritage Flight program. Unfortunately the budget cuts of recent years stopped not only the Legacy Flights, but also the Hornet demonstrations themselves. As the TACDEMO teams return to full prominence on the airshow circuit, there is hope that these formations can again be flown regularly.

Don’t forget to also watch our video of the full Super Hornet aerobatic demonstration from Cleveland!

UPDATED: 2016 US Navy F-18 Hornet/Super Hornet Demo Team And Legacy Flight Schedules Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 2

US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet

US Navy F/A-18C HornetUS Navy Tailhook Legacy Flight

The US Navy has released the 2016 airshow schedule for its F-18C Hornet and F/A-18F Super Hornet demonstration teams. As we’ve reported previously, the Navy is also bringing back the Tailhook Legacy Flight program that puts these modern fighters in formation with civilian-operated Navy warbirds. Will you see the Hornets in 2016? Let us know! Post on our Facebook page page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

2016 Appearance Schedule

Updated 6/7/16

April
22-24 – Langley AFB, VA (VFA-106 Hornet)
23 – Louisville, KY

May
7-8 – Fort Lauderdale, FL
14-15 – JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ
21-22 – Latrobe, PA
21-22 – Shaw AFB, SC

June
11-12 – North Kingstown, RI (VFA-106 Hornet)
11-12 – Syracuse, NY (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
18-19 – Ocean City, MD (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
18-19 – Dayton, OH (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
24-26 – Evansville, IN (VFA-106 (Super Hornet)
25-26 – Davenport, IA (VFA-122 Super Hornet)

July
3 – Dubaque, IA (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
9-10 – Duluth, MN (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
15-16 – Toldeo, OH (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
25-31 – Oshkosh, WI (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
30-31 – Offutt, NE (VFA-122 Super Hornet)

August
5-7 – Hillsboro, OR (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
13-14 – Burlington, VT (VFA-106 Hornet)
13-14 – Abbotsford, BC (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
17 – Atlantic City, NJ (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
19-21 – Chicago, IL (VFA-106 Hornet)
19-21 – Ypsilanti, MI (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
27-28 – McChord,WA (VFA-122 Super Hornet)

September
3-4 – New Windsor, NY (VFA-106 Hornet)
3-4 – Toronto, CA (VFA-106 SuperHornet)
10-11 – NAS Oceana, VA (VFA-106 Super and Hornet Demos)
10-11 – Fort Wayne, In (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
16-18 – Coshocton, OH (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
16-18 – Waco, TX (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
24-25 – Santa Rosa, CA (VFA-122 Super Hornet)

October
1-2 – Owensboro, KY (VFA-106 Hornet)
15-16 – Fort Worth, TX (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
21-23 – Anderson, SC (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
22-23 – Huntington Beach, CA (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
29-30 – Rome, GA (VFA-106 Super Hornet)

November
5-6 – Stuart, FL (VFA-106 Hornet)
5-6 – Homestead ARB, FL (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
12-1 – Nellis AFB,NV (VFA-122 Super Hornet)

Legacy Flights Are Coming Back In 2016!

posted in: Airshows, Military | 0

USN Legacy Flight

This year we air show fans in North America have been treated to the US Air Force (USAF) and the US Navy (USN) reviving their single-ship demo teams and dedicating aircraft to static displays once more. However, the good news is still rolling in as Saturday September 19 the US Navy Tac Demo Facebook page announced that 2016 will see the return of the Naval Aviation Tailhook Legacy Flight.

While no schedule is set in stone yet, there will be a draft coming out during this year’s ICAS Convention held in Las Vegas, NV December 6-9. Until then, there are still shows left where you can catch the Navy F-18 Hornet Demo tear up the sky! Stay tuned to AirshowStuff for further updates and developments with the Legacy Flights and more.