US Air Force Heritage Flights Will Be Longer This Airshow Season

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USAF Heritage Flight - P-38 Lightning and A-10 Thunderbolt II - AirshowStuff

The US Air Force Heritage Flight routine will have a new look in 2019!

Air Combat Command’s single-ship demonstration teams (F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and A-10 Thunderbolt II) and civilian Heritage Flight pilots just wrapped up their annual Heritage Flight Conference practice session at Davis-Monthan AFB. During the conference, they flew dozens of Heritage Flight routines in all sorts of combinations of modern jets and vintage warbirds. As if a new aircraft type being added to the program wasn’t exciting enough, an extended routine was teased on social media, and we can confirm that the flights included more formation flybys than in previous years.

The old routine consisted of three formation passes; the formation would arc in for a right to left photo pass, turn around for a left to right flat pass, then come from behind and over the crowd before splitting apart for individual flybys, affectionately known as “zoomies”. You can see it in the video below.

The new routine has two extra passes; it starts with the same photo pass, but the formation now swings out a little wider and arcs away from the crowd, presenting a belly view of the aircraft. They continue the turn to their left and fly head on to the crowd, passing overhead and then turning around for an original left to right flat pass, with the normal overhead pass, break, and zoomies.

The video below shows the new routine, but from an unusual perspective – across from the crowd and at far show left. Note the exceptional combination of aircraft; a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, North American F-86 Sabre, and a US Air Force F-22 Raptor. Stay tuned for many more videos of the Heritage Flights flown at the conference, and further coverage during the 2019 airshow season!

Civilian F-5 To Join Heritage Flight Program, Pyro Approved For F-22 And F-35 Demos

posted in: Airshows, Military, Popular Posts | 1

US Air Force Heritage Flight - AirshowStuff

An easy to overlook update from Air Combat Command has yielded some exciting developments with the Air Force’s single-ship demonstration and Heritage Flight programs!

The update in question is the publishing of the 2019 version of the Demo Team Support Manual; a long document which spells out all of the requirements that airshows must meet in order to host the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and A-10 Thunderbolt II demonstration teams during the season. These details are often mundane and invisible to spectators, like the number of required rental cars and mandated access to a 24/7 fitness center, but the manual does give a glimpse at the many factors that need to be carefully considered when planning an event. The 2019 version includes a couple of noteworthy mentions that will be very noticeable to spectators.

First, the Heritage Flight program is being expanded to include a Northrop F-5 fighter jet! The F-5 is an interesting addition because it was primarily exported to US allies and saw only limited USAF service. It will represent the Vietnam War era previously represented by USAF-operated F-4 Phantom IIs, which did not return to the Heritage Flight program after the 2013 sequestration year shut down all military demonstrations and left active service in 2016. This left the A-1 Skyraider as the only approved participant from that time period. F-5s did fly a couple thousand sorties in Vietnam, but certainly are not closely associated with the war.

The pilots in the program meet at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ every year for the Heritage Flight Conference, a weekend practice session to prepare for the upcoming airshow season. Civilian participation in the Heritage Flight is kept under tight control, and only a small group of specially approved pilots are allowed to fly in them, and only in certain aircraft types. Aside from the F-5, only P-51 Mustangs, P-38 Lightnings, P-40 Warhawks, P-47 Thunderbolts, F-86 Sabres, and A-1 Skyraiders are approved. There are several other privately owned fighter jets that could theoretically be included; an F-4 Phantom II flown by the Collings Foundation and a pair of F-100 Super Sabres are the most notable. Sadly, it seems likely that logistics and costs will prevent them from participating any time soon.

An interesting note is that while the F-5 is increasingly flown as a civilian warbird in the US, the US Navy and Marine Corps still actively use versions of the aircraft as aggressors during training and the T-38 Talon advanced trainer that was developed from the F-5 is a mainstay of the Air Force training fleet.

The other interesting takeaway from the support manual update is that pyrotechnics have been approved for use during the F-22 and F-35 demonstrations. The pyro is limited to a wall of fire on the high speed pass only, similar to the limitations already approved for the F-16 demo. The A-10 demo continues to be approved for additional pyro as it includes simulated strafing and bombing attacks in its routine. Most shows do not elect to use pyro with the demos, but it’s great that it will be more available in the future for those that do.

Find out where you can see the USAF single-ship demonstration teams in 2019 by visiting our airshow and aviation event calendar, and share your thoughts about the new F-5 on our forums!

AirshowStuff’s Top Ten Warbird Videos Of 2018

As our 13th year of airshow coverage comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at another awesome season of aviation and airshows!

Warbirds – aircraft that are no longer in military service – are one of the most popular searches across all of our channels, and it’s easy to see why. Many people have strong emotional connections to these aircraft, maybe due to a relative who flew one or just as a touchstone to history. Warbirds are almost by definition quite rare, and we are glad to share the sights and sounds of these vintage beasts! Here are ten of our favorite warbird videos from 2018!

We also have lists of our top ten onboard videos and our top ten military videos!

Two F7F Tigercats Flying Together

Listen to this exceptionally rare pair get the props going on their high speed pass in Oshkosh! A unique – and chilling – sound! One of the aircraft lost a wheel on landing, but was otherwise undamaged.

MiG-17 Afterburner at Sunset

Randy Ball flies what may be the perfect warbird routine – a mix of aerobatics, high speed passes, and photo passes. He knows what the crowd likes, and it’s even more beautiful at dusk!

Air to Air With an A-26 Invader and Four TBM Avengers

One of the coolest air to air flights we did all year was this rare opportunity to hang out the open door of a Beech 18 with five rare warbirds flying off the wing!

Warbirds Roaring Directly Overhead on the Hot Ramp

We work hard to film from spots with no music or narrators blasting over the PA, and this year our friends at the Terre Haute Airshow helped us out with amazing access to the hot ramp. Enjoy this compilation of warbirds, including a B-17 Flying Fortress, B-25 Mitchell, P-51 Mustang, and more – watch for them to blast right overhead on their photo passes!

An Inside Look at Tora Tora Tora – Right Next to the Bombs

They’re warbirds in two different senses – T-6 Texans and BT-13 Valiants masquerading as Japanese Zeros, Vals, and Kates – and we had a great time getting attacked by them while sitting in the pyro field during this performance by the Tora Tora Tora group!

Preflighting a Supermarine Spitfire in Oshkosh

This video has less action than most, but it’s also one of the most informative. Dave Hadfield, who flies a number of warbirds, was nice enough to show us around the Mike Potter Collection’s Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX on the ground at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about preflighting a Spitfire! Dave also shared some cockpit footage with us – check back for that when we list our 2018 on-board videos!

Spitfire Flybys for RAF 100

Here’s the end result of the Spitfire preflight – some spectacular flybys lit up by the late afternoon sun. Oshkosh helped mark the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force with the Spitfire, a de Havilland Chipmunk, and a BAC Jet Provost.

Twilight Flybys From an F-5 Freedom Fighter

This nimble F-5 Freedom Fighter showed off just after sunset at the America’s Freedom Fest airshow in Goshen, IN. We’ll also have cockpit footage from this jet coming up with other on-board videos!

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Trenchard Formation

Thanks to our friends at This Is Flight, we were able to share a look of this excellent and rare formation flown by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight over in the UK which includes one of only two flying Avro Lancasters in the world!

Jet Warbird Day at EAA AirVenture

Jet Warbird Day at EAA AirVenture means a sky full of jets. This video is part 2 of our footage – you can see part 1 here – and includes F-86 Sabres, the F-5 Freedom Fighter mentioned above, and the only flyby all week from the Gloster Meteor that just came to the United States this year. The Meteor and missing man formation before it were flown as a tribute to Marty Tibbitts, who was killed in a crash while practicing for the show.

Remember to subscribe to our Youtube channel for even more warbird videos – we’re adding more all the time!

Rare USAF Heritage Flight Formation To Perform Super Bowl LII Flyover

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P-51 Mustang and A-10 Warthogs - USAF Heritage Flight

Keep your eyes to the sky (or more likely, your TV screen) before the kickoff of Super Bowl LII on February 4th – there will be a special US Air Force Heritage Flight flyover for the national anthem! The formation will feature the World War II-era P-51 Mustang “Sierra Sue II” leading two A-10 Warthogs and an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

It’s interesting that any flyover is planned, because the game is being played inside the fully enclosed U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Nevertheless, there will hopefully be sufficient coverage for everyone outside of the stadium to enjoy the flight. The game, between the Patriots and the Eagles, is scheduled to start at 6:30 pm eastern time and will be broadcast on NBC.

Sierra Sue II is a combat veteran P-51 that is owned by the Wings of the North museum, located just outside of Minneapolis in Eden Prairie. Heritage Flight-approved pilot Steve Hinton will be at the controls during the flyover.

New Photo Album – Thunder Over Michigan 2017

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

C-47/DC-3 Gathering - Thunder Over Michigan 2017

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here:
Thunder Over Michigan 2017 – Ryan Sundheimer

US Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornets and F8F Bearcat - Thunder Over Michigan 2017WWII Reenactment - Thunder Over Michigan 2017

New Photo Album – America’s Freedom Fest (Goshen, IN) 2017

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 1

America's Freedom Fest 2017 - Goshen, IN

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: America’s Freedom Fest (Goshen, IN) 2017 – Ryan Sundheimer

Also be sure to check out our videos from the show on our Youtube playlist:

Warbird Heritage Foundation Suspends Flight Operations, Cancels Appearances Following “Baby Duck” Crash

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Warbird Heritage Foundation's A-4 Skyhawk and P-51 Mustang

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”.

Vlado Lenoch And Passenger Killed In Kansas P-51 Mustang Crash

posted in: Warbirds | 3
Vlado Lenoch Leads the United States Air Force Heritage Flight
This photo, taken just two weeks before the crash, shows Vlado and Baby Duck leading a Heritage Flight. At the time, it was a cool photo but now it means so much more.

Nearly everyone in the airshow community lost a friend this weekend. Pilot Vlado Lenoch, along with passenger Bethany Root, was killed when the P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck” crashed near Atchison, Kansas Sunday morning. Vlado had performed at the Amelia Earhart Festival the previous night in Atchison. Bethany was the manager of the airport there, and Vlado was no doubt taking her for a flight before heading home.

Vlado was an airshow and warbird icon, and one of the most prolific pilots here in the Midwest. He flew many types, but was most closely associated with P-51 Mustangs; especially “Moonbeam McSwine”, which he owned for many years. After selling Moonbeam he instead became synonymous with Baby Duck and frequently flew it all across the Midwest. He was also an Aerobatic Competency Evaluator (ACE) for other pilots and one of the few civilian pilots in the US Air Force Heritage Flight program.

Vlado Lenoch and his P-51 Mustang "Moonbeam McSwine"Vlado Lenoch and his P-51 Mustang "Moonbeam McSwine"

His biography on the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation website gives only a glimpse of his amazing experience:

Vlado Lenoch of Burr Ridge, Illinois is married with three children. His love of aviation began in 1970 when, at age 17, he learned to fly at Chicago’s Midway Airport. He earned an aeronautical engineering degree from Purdue and a Master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following college, he was employed at the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company in Seattle as a 747 instructor. From that point, he was employed at two major airlines flying the Boeing 727 and Douglas DC-9 aircraft. Currently, he flies a corporate Citation jet for a private company in Illinois.

Lenoch is a licensed Airline Transport pilot with flight instructor ratings in single and multi-engine aircraft, instruments and gliders. He holds authorization for the B-727, Cessna 525, F-86, A-1, A-37, L-39, T-33, P-40, P-47, P-51, F6F, F4U and T-28 aircraft. Vlado has over 11,000 hours of flight time and has built his own aircraft, a Pitts S-1T biplane, which he competes in at the highest level.

A member since 1997, the year in which the Heritage Flight program was founded, Vlado is one of the most seasoned pilots. He has been a director in the FAST Fighter Formation program since 1990 and an ICAS and EAA Warbird Aerobatic Competency Evaluator since 1995. Vlado is a lifetime member in the Commemorative Air Force, Soaring Society of America and Experimental Aircraft Association. Vlado’s great uncle, Cvitan Galic (of Czech ancestry), was a 39-victory Luftwaffe Fighter Ace in the Me-109 in World War II.

Vlado Lenoch and the P-51 Mustang "Baby Duck"

Vlado was also famous for his laid back and friendly attitude. Everyone was his friend, and he was always willing to help us pesky photographers out. We worked with him on many occasions through the years, setting up on board cameras and taking photos of the cockpit. Two of us were standing on Baby Duck’s wing doing just that only two weeks ago – we took a smiling selfie that is almost haunting now. We were starting to look at that footage today, before the news broke. All of us here at AirshowStuff, and so many more like us, will miss Vlado terribly. Our condolences further go out to his family as well as the family of his passenger.

Volumes could be written about Vlado’s kind heart and piloting skill, but we think the best tribute is to simply watch the master pilot work at what he loved. Enjoy the video below, remember the smiles he brought to everyone’s face, and keep ’em flying. Please share your own photos, videos, and memories of Vlado in our forums – we want to see them all as we attempt to process this tremendous loss.

P-51B Mustang “Berlin Express” Will Return To The UK This July

posted in: Airshows, Warbirds | 0

P-51B Mustang "Berlin Express" - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Exciting news for airshow fans in Europe! The beautifully restored P-51B Mustang “Berlin Express” will be flown across the Atlantic this summer in order to perform at the 2017 Flying Legends airshow in Duxford on July 8th and 9th. “Berlin Express” was restored by the staff at Pacific Fighters in Idaho Falls, ID and returned to flight in November of 2014. She is based on the skeleton of P-51B 43-24837, which flew from the UK during the war. We caught her at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh in 2015, where she was a notable guest of the event.

From the Flying Legends performer page:
The restored fighter is based around the remains of P-51B 43-24837. This Mustang flew with the 9th Air Force’s 363rd Fighter Group out of RAF Staplehurst in Kent, England. It crashed in Beckley after the pilot was forced to bail out during a training exercise on June 10th, 1944. Sporting a “Malcolm Hood” canopy and wearing the markings for “Berlin Express”, Comanche Fighters newest Mustang is dressed exactly like the 357th Fighter Group Mustang which the legendary American ace Bill Overstreet flew under the Eiffel tower while successfully shooting down a Messerschmitt Me-109 in 1944.

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