USAF Announces F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team To Debut In 2019

posted in: Military | 0

USAF F-35A Lightning II - AirshowStuff

Airshow fans can look forward to a new jet demo on the airshow circuit next year!

Air Combat Command announced today that the F-35A Lightning II group will be upgraded from a “Heritage Flight Team” to a full-up “Demonstration Team” to bring it in line with the other US Air Force single-ship demo teams which fly the F-22 Raptor, A-10 Thunderbolt II, and F-16 Fighting Falcon.

ACC actually leaked the news a bit early by posting the team’s new “Demo Team” patch on their website a couple weeks ago. We embargoed the news at the team’s request and the patch was quickly taken down pending the official announcement.

The 2019 demonstration pilot will be Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, who flew as the team’s display pilot in 2018 and earned rave reviews for his flybys.

Fans have been asking about an F-35A demo for years. The USAF F-35 Heritage Team began performing in 2016. Instead of jumping straight to an aerobatic routine with the brand new aircraft, the performance was limited to performing Heritage Flights and some non-aerobatic solo flybys. Now, with a few years of airshow experience and a more mature aircraft, the team is being allowed to turn it loose and show off more dynamic maneuvers.

“The past year’s demonstration was sort of like an ‘appetizer’ if you will,” said Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Demonstration Team pilot and commander. “The new profile this year will be the full ‘five-course meal’ showing fans everything this jet is capable of.”

According to Olson, the new 13 minute-long profile will highlight the F-35A Lightning II’s numerous capabilities to include speed, agility, and high-G turning.

“What makes the fifth generation fighter so special in general is the slow-speed, high angle of attack maneuvering it can do,” Olson said. “We’re also going to be performing controlled flat spins while falling out of the sky as well as high-speed passes and vertical climbs.”

Lockheed Martin test pilot Billie Flynn finally put the F-35A through its paces at the 2017 Paris Airshow, and many expected that it signaled a military demonstration would follow. In fact, reports from that time indicated the Air Force was working closely with Lockheed on establishing the routine in preparation for launching this demo team in 2018. That obviously didn’t happen, but the team’s flybys have gotten more aggressive with time. This is a very exciting development – the first new jet demonstration since the F-22 Raptor debuted over 10 years ago.

Wondering where you can see the F-35 next year? Luckily, the F-35 Demonstration Team’s 2019 schedule was also made public today!

Stay tuned to AirshowStuff for more details on this exciting new performance and be sure to add your thoughts on the news in our forums!

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!

Two USAF F-35s to Flyover Sunday’s NASCAR Race

posted in: Flyovers, Military | 0

USAF F-35 Lightning II - Luke AFB - NASCAR Flyover

Two F-35 Lightning IIs from Luke AFB will perform the flyover of Sunday’s NASCAR race (3/13/16) from Phoenix International Raceway. The race, which can be viewed on your local FOX affiliate around 3:30 pm Eastern, is not far from the base. Time on target is 3:32:30 exactly and the jets will fly from turn 4 to turn 1!

This isn’t the first time F-35s from Luke have performed flyovers. You may remember jets from Luke performed the flyover for the Pro-Bowl in January of 2015.

USAF F-35s will also be participating in 2016 Heritage Flights, flying alongside current USAF aircraft and historic fighters from previous conflicts. You can view the 2016 schedule for the F-35A Heritage Flights here!

FLYOVER ALERT! Pro Bowl and Super Bowl!

posted in: Flyovers, Military | 0

F-35 Flyover Luke Darin Russell/Lockheed Martin

Football fans and airshow fans will both want to tune in over the next two weekends to catch some great games and great flyovers! Luke AFB, located in Glendale, AZ announced Tuesday that four F-35s from the 61st Fighter Squadron will perform the flyover for the Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium, scheduled to be shown on ESPN this Sunday, January 25th. This will be the first ever public flyover by the F-35.

In addition to the flyover, a joint honor guard from Luke AFB will present the colors and servicemembers from across Arizona will be at the stadium.

One week later on February 1st, make sure to tune into NBC as the USAF Thunderbirds flyover Super Bowl XLIX during the pregame activities!

Photo by Darin Russell/Lockheed Martin