Interesting Observations From The 2019/2020 Military And Jet Team Schedules

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Military, Schedules | 3

USAF Thunderbirds and Crowd - AirshowStuff

Last week we got our best glimpse yet as to what the 2019 and 2020 airshow seasons will look like when the jet team and military demonstration schedules were announced at the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) Convention in Las Vegas. We here at AirshowStuff were the first to post them publicly, and you can review them here on our blog or in our forums.

Although much of the information is pretty standard, there are always some surprises and less obvious revelations tucked away in the list of dates and shows. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits we noticed:

  • One of the hottest topics in airshow circles these days is the RAF Red Arrows US/Canada tour in August and September. The Reds did have a couple of representatives at the convention, but they disappointed fans everywhere by not releasing a schedule with the rest of the teams. This wasn’t shocking really, but it does leave some fans stuck in limbo for travel plans. Stay tuned to AirshowStuff – we’ll bring you the schedule as soon as they do announce it!
  • The North American jet teams cross paths at least a few times each year, and 2019 is no exception. The real surprise is the show at Joint Base Andrews near Washington, D.C., which features a rare combination of the US Navy Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbirds plus the A-10 Warthog demo team. The Canadian Snowbirds will meet each US team once during the year; the Blue Angels in Ocean City, MD and the Thunderbirds in Abbotsford, BC.
  • Numerous shows will feature multiple single-ship demonstrations, but especially noteworthy are Milwaukee and Cleveland. Milwaukee has the benefit of sharing their weekend with EAA AirVenture just up the road in Oshkosh, WI, so it’s not shocking that they will get the Thunderbirds and the newly approved F-35 Lightning II Demo and also borrow the F-22 Raptor and F-16 Fighting Falcon from Oshkosh for a Heritage Flight. Hopefully Oshkosh gets something in return! Cleveland sees the Thunderbirds, but also gets the F-35 and A-10 demo teams in an unusual collection of Air Force teams at a civilian show.
  • Not counting a handful of US appearances in Canada, there are two international airshows on the schedules for the US teams. The Thunderbirds will head to Rionegro, Colombia in July, and the A-10 demonstration team will perform at Santa Lucia AB in Mexico in April. Both seem a little random, but at least the teams will not be gone on an extended tour.
  • The RCAF CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team will not be performing at any US shows in 2019. We noticed that their schedule was cut down significantly and hoped that additional shows might be approved later, but it was then reported that the season is intentionally being “condensed” amid personnel shortages and aircraft maintenances woes in the RCAF. This is definitely disappointing because the CF-18 carries a special paint scheme every year, so it’s a bit of a collector’s item among photographers.
  • One item that was noticed when the preliminary 2019 schedules were released a year ago is that the NAS Oceana Airshow will not host the Blue Angels for the first time in memory. In a strange twist, the Thunderbirds are scheduled for that one! The Blue Angels will instead be flying at NAS Lemoore in California, the first airshow there in many years. Oceana is also considered a favorite to land the Red Arrows during their US/Canada tour, so there is a real possibility of having two jet teams at Oceana but no Blue Angels.
  • The US Marines are bad at releasing schedules. Not only do they only list a few shows, there are always errors and inconsistencies with the more polished lists released by other organizations. This year is no exception. Just three AV-8B Harrier demonstrations were announced, and four MV-22 Osprey demonstrations. For the record, last year four of each were announced but roughly eight shows saw Osprey demos by the time the season was over. The problem is that the Marines do not have dedicated teams or pilots, they simply fly the demonstrations with regular units that have much less availability. Their schedules also don’t mention the Marine Corps Air Station airshows that end up hosting demonstrations.
  • Looking ahead to the preliminary 2020 schedules, the very first thing that screams off the page is a shortened Blue Angels season, ending in October. This isn’t an error; the season still ends with the traditional homecoming show in Pensacola, just a month before it usually takes place. This indicates an intentional extension to the off season, and comes just in time (actually a little early in our opinion) for the planned transition to Super Hornets. Nothing has been announced, but it sure looks like 2021 may be the first year in the new jets!
  • A more minor entry in the Blue Angels’ 2020 schedule is the airshow at CFB Cold Lake in Alberta. The Blues list the show as August 8-9, but the organizers were quick to start promoting July 18-19 instead. Normally this would be a simple date swap, but the July dates happen to be one of the rest weekends the team is obligated to take; the team cannot perform more than seven weekends in a row. These breaks were instituted following the fatal crash of Blue Angel #6 pilot Capt. Jeff Kuss in 2016. If the organizers are to be believed, this rest weekend will be filled and the schedule will show nine performance weeks between breaks. Expect some more shuffling to occur, but luckily there is plenty of time for all involved to sort it out.

Did you notice anything else interesting in the schedules? Who are you most looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments or join the discussion on our forums!

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!

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!

VFA-106 Unveils Special VFA-15 Paint Scheme For 2017 F/A-18C Hornet Demonstrations

posted in: Military | 14

F/A-18C Hornet Demonstration In VFA-15 Commemorative Paint Scheme

The U.S. Navy’s East Coast TAC Demo squadron, VFA-106 Gladiators, recently introduced a commemorative paint scheme for their F/A-18C “Legacy Hornet” demo jet. The new paint scheme celebrates the legacy of VFA-15 Valions, which is scheduled to formally deactivate on May 31, 2017. The demo jet markings are representative of VA-15 while flying A-7E Corsair IIs during the 1970s. VA-15 transitioned to F/A-18s in January of 1987 and was subsequently re-designated VFA-15.

F/A-18C Hornet Demonstration In VFA-15 Commemorative Paint SchemeF/A-18C Hornet Demonstration In VFA-15 Commemorative Paint Scheme

The jet made its public debut March 10-12 at the Tico Warbird Airshow held annually at the Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida. The event was the team’s first of the 2017 airshow season. Lt. Scott “MacGruber” Lindahl piloted the jet for all three demonstrations of the weekend, much to the surprise and delight of the crowd. Overall, the jet was very well received and was the subject of much discussion due to the jet’s retro 1970s paint scheme.

The jet is a fitting tribute to the men and women currently serving in VFA-15, and provides honor and respect for all who served the mighty Valions during the squadron’s storied 75 year history.

– Shawn Yost

EDIT: Our comments include some credit for the paint scheme:
All of us in the VFA-15 Corrosion Workcenter painted the jet that paint scheme, the original A/C Modex was 301. The night before it came out from the paint hangar there onboard NAS OCEANA & was on display at my Navy Retirement Ceremony on Nov. 18, [2016]. I was the LPO for 12C Work Center & all my guys did a Fantastic JOB painting the jet. I like to give them the credit & they are as follows: Jared Paul Bowen, Yisus Vlzqz, Wayne Ragas, Jordan Soltis, Huy G Tran, Sean Collins, Narciso Diaz & Brent Fore

SEE ALSO: 2017 US Navy F-18 Hornet And Super Hornet Demo Team Schedules Released

F/A-18C Hornet Demonstration In VFA-15 Commemorative Paint Scheme

2017 US Navy F-18 Hornet And Super Hornet Demo Team Schedules Released

posted in: Military, Schedules | 1

US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet Demonstration Team

The United States Navy has released the 2017 schedule for the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet demonstration teams! Their schedule does not specify which airshows are getting which type of aircraft, but we will update this post with that information when we get it.

Will you see the Hornet/Super Hornet in 2017? Let us know! Post on our Facebook page and in our forums, and make sure you share pictures after the show!

2017 Appearance Schedule – US Navy F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet Demonstration Teams

VFA-106 “Gladiators”:

March 11-13 – Titusville, FL (F/A-18C Hornet)
March 18-19 – Waco, TX

April 22-23 – Louisville, KY
April 29-30 – Lake City, FL

May 6-7 – Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 7-8 – Lincoln, NE
May 20-21 – North Kingstown, RI
May 20-21 – Oklahoma City, OK
May 27-28 – Miami Beach, FL
May 27-28 – Wantagh, NY Canceled on 3/24/17

June 25-26 – Huntsville, AL

July 1-2 – Traverse City, MI (F/A-18F Super Hornet)
July 15-16 – Johnson City, NY

August 12-13 – Scranton, PA
August 12-13 – Barnes ANGB/Westfield, MA
August 19-20 – Selfridge ANGB/Chesterfield Township, MI
August 23 – Atlantic City, NJ

September 2-4 – Cleveland, OH (F/A-18F Super Hornet)
September 9-10 – Sacramento, CA
September 16-17 – Virginia Beach, VA (F/A-18C Hornet and F/A-18F Super Hornet)
September 23-24 – London, ON (F/A-18F Super Hornet)

October 14-15 – Atlanta, GA

November 3-5 – Stuart, FL

VFA-122 “Flying Eagles”:

March 17-18 – Yuma, AZ
March 24-26 – Lancaster, CA

April 1-2 – Melbourne, FL
April 8-9 – Columbus, GA
April 28-30 – Lake Charles, LA

May 6-7 – McEntire ANGB, SC
May 13-14 – Pittsburgh, PA
May 20-21 – Redlands, CA
May 27-28 – Columbia, MO

June 10-11 – Scott AFB, IL
June 17-18 – Gaylord, MI
June 24-25 – Dayton, OH

July 3 – Dubuque, IA
July 8-9 – Gary, IN
July 22-23 – Great Falls, MT
July 29-30 – Fairchild AFB, WA

August 11-13 – Abbotsford, BC

September 9-10 – Wendover, UT
September 16-17 – Midland, TX
September 30-October 1 – Grand Junction, CO

October 7-8 – Minden, NV
October 21-22 – Houston, TX

F/A-18C Hornet Demo Added To 2016 NAS Pax River Air Expo Lineup

posted in: Airshows | 0

US Navy F/A-18C Hornet demonstration team

The US Navy F/A-18C Hornet demonstration from VFA-106 “Gladiators” has been added to the lineup of the 2016 NAS Patuxent River Air Expo. The status of the show was called into question after the Blue Angels were forced to cancel their planned appearance at the show, but organizers decided to press on with the rest of the line up. This late addition will provide some extra jet noise on top of the already scheduled F-22 Raptor and Sea Harrier performances.

The Navy has used the single-ship Hornet demo teams to fill in for the Blue Angels several times already this year. They were called into action when the Blues canceled multiple appearances as part of their safety stand down following the June crash of Blue Angel #6, Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. The report on that crash led to a mandate that the team take one weekend off at least every eight weeks, which led to their Pax River cancellation.

Fat Albert Loses Famous Blue Angel Paint Scheme As Part Of Maintenance Overhaul

posted in: Jet Teams | 0
US Navy Blue Angels - Fat Albert C-130 Hercules - Paint Stripped
Photo Credit: Tinker AFB

Fat Albert has lost the famous blue and gold colors of the Blue Angels as part of a maintenance overhaul currently underway. The aircraft was flown to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, where crews worked in three shifts to remove the famous paint scheme and check for corrosion. The base Facebook page posted a photo of this work in progress, and today another photo was posted by the Fat Albert Twitter account showing the end result; a naked Bert!

US Navy Blue Angels - Fat Albert C-130 Hercules - Paint Stripped
Photo Credit: FatAlbertUSMC

As you can see, only the bright yellow nose remains. The aircraft will be flown to Hill AFB in Utah for major maintenance and repair work. Indications are that severe corrosion is behind the effort that will keep Fat Albert grounded for the rest of the 2016 airshow season. In the mean time, the team will fly a regular ‘fleet’ C-130 for transportation and logistics, but will likely not perform in it.

Blue Angels’ Fat Albert Will Reportedly Not Fly Again Until After 2016 Airshow Season

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 10

US Navy Blue Angels - C-130 Hercules Fat Albert

Fat Albert, the famous C-130 Hercules that serves as the transport for the US Navy Blue Angels, appears to be done flying for the season. As we reported last week, Bert was forced to miss the Seattle Seafair airshow this past weekend due to unspecified maintenance issues, and unconfirmed reports began circulating that it would not be back to flying status any time soon. A tweet by one of the three Fat Albert pilots, USMC Captain Katie Higgins, seems to confirm the news. She mentions that Bert is in depot-level maintenance, and that she will not fly that airframe (164763) again during her time with the team.

The team will likely utilize a normal Marine Corps KC-130 for its transportation needs for the remainder of the season, but it remains to be seen whether that aircraft will perform in shows or not. From what we have heard, it seems doubtful. This puts a further damper on the current Blue Angels performance that remains a five-jet routine following the crash of Blue Angel #6, Captain Jeff Kuss, earlier this year. The sixth jet will rejoin the performances once Commander Frank Weisser is fully proficient in the routine.

We have reached out to the Blue Angels for comments and official confirmation. In the mean time, those needing their Fat Albert fix can take a ride in the cockpit during an airshow flight earlier this year:

US Navy Hornet Demo Teams Practice For 2016 Season

posted in: Airshows, Military | 0

IMG_1946web-XL

It’s that time again! Fans and pilots alike are starting to get ready for the 2016 season. The Navy is as well! In order to qualify for certification, the US Navy demo teams must fly a certain number of practice flights before their first public performance. Many of these practice flights take place at their home base.

Therefore, starting February 22nd and running through March 4th, residents in Virginia Beach, VA and around NAS Oceana will hear louder than normal jet noise and see some low level flying by the F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet demo teams. These flights will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays with Friday as a backup date.

The practice demos will begin around 3:30pm and run for 45 minutes until around 4:15. If previous practice demos we’ve seen are any indication, both teams will fly. Low clouds and rainy conditions could cancel or reschedule demos, but those are the typical flight times.

The Hornet demo teams also fly at the Dare County Bombing Range in Dare, NC and in a simulator before taking to the skies over Oceana.

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