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!

Former Blue Angel Explains Super Hornet Transition Plans, Talks New Routine

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 2

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

We now know a lot more about the US Navy Blue Angelscoming transition to the F/A-18E Super Hornet thanks to former Blue Angel #1 Captain Ryan Bernacchi. He spoke to Newsradio 1620 in the team’s hometown of Pensacola, FL recently, and explained not only the difference between the team’s current F/A-18 “Legacy” Hornets and the coming Super Hornets, but also the current status of the transition.

Bernacchi started by explaining why the transition is going forward in the first place. When the Blues began flying Hornets in the late ’80s, significant engineering work was done to modify the jet for airshows. This work applied to the A and B model Hornets. More recently, similar work was done to prepare some older C and D model Hornets for shows as well. These modifications include things like the smoke system and the ability to fly inverted for longer than a stock jet. Although the team has continued to fly these older jets, they are aging and relatively few usable airframes remain eligible for the already approved modifications. In response, the Blues were forced to look at either pursuing younger Legacy Hornets or transitioning to Super Hornets.

Their findings are very interesting. Bernacchi says that even though the Legacy Hornets are now retired from active Navy service – the final operational flight was February 1st – the vast majority of the youngest airframes are earmarked for service with the Marine Corps and Navy Reserves. A middle group of airframes from production lots 13 and 14 were available to the team, but had enough differences from the team’s current aircraft that they required a similar engineering effort for airshow modifications. Surprisingly, the end conclusion was that it would cost roughly the same amount to transition to anything newer than the team’s existing jets, whether moving to newer Legacy Hornets or Super Hornets! The final decision to go to Super Hornets was made this past December.

Here’s a video showing Legacy Hornets and Super Hornets flying side by side:

So when can we look forward to new jets in the distinctive blue and gold paint scheme? Bernacchi says that the current plan is to have 11 modified Super Hornets – early production models that never saw operational service – ready for winter training at the end of 2020. They would debut in the spring of 2021. This matches the preliminary 2020 airshow schedule released by the Blues, which is notable for ending a month earlier than usual. We speculated that this was to allow extra time for the off-season transition, and that appears to be the case.

Bernacchi is also quick to point out that this project will take a backseat to maintaining and upgrading the frontline force, so it may slip due to potential budget cuts or other difficulties. The team can continue performing in their current jets for some time if it does get pushed back, but he was careful to emphasize that the new jets are not combat-ready models and they are not coming from any combat units.

What will the show look like after the transition? Bernacchi and former Blue Angel solo pilot Cdr. Frank “Walleye” Weisser spent time at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland analyzing the aircraft’s capabilities and fit for the team. His verdict after flying maneuvers in a simulator and in real life is that it will work well for the team, but it will require some adjustments. One maneuver – which Bernacchi did not name – is likely to be modified or dropped, but he feels some others will look better than they do now.

One proposal is for the diamond and solos to each drop one maneuver in order to streamline the show and improve the flow during the routine. This would shorten the show slightly, but even just three minutes per flight spread over ten performances (including practices) a week adds up to dozens of hours of airframe time saved each year. Bernacchi says that in addition to vetting the aircraft systems for potential failures, they spent a great deal of time looking into other factors of aircraft fatigue like how certain maneuvers and rejoins are flown. Although he did not go into specifics, he said they came up with a plan to substantially reduce the fatigue impact on the airframes, which will extend their lives with the team.

What do you think the mystery maneuver is? Feel free to take a guess and add your thoughts on the transition in our forums! Also make sure to visit our airshow calendar to see where you can watch a Blue Angels performance in 2019 and 2020.

Set Your Airshow Plans With Our New Airshow/Aviation Event Calendar

posted in: Airshows, Popular Posts, Schedules | 1

Looking to plan your airshow schedule in 2019? AirshowStuff is happy to unveil our new calendar of airshows and aviation events in the US and Canada!

This calendar combines the major military/jet team schedules and other known events into a single list for easy browsing and comparison. You can use the filters to search by date, event name, location, state, country, or featured performer. We have also included links to event discussion threads on our forums, so you can get more information or ask questions about attending. If a thread doesn’t already exist for an event you want to discuss, please create one!

We hope that the new calendar will help both hardcore avgeeks and casual fans to find and connect with events near them. The calendar currently includes over 180 events in 2019 as well as preliminary 2020 airshow dates for the US Navy Blue Angels and US Air Force Thunderbirds. You can get to the calendar at any time through the button on the blue navigation bar at the top of this page.

We will be updating the calendar as schedules inevitably change throughout the year. If you see any incorrect information, or know of an aviation event that we have not included, please let us know through the forums, e-mail, or through our social media channels!

USAF F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team 2019 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 4

USAF F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for the US Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team! Will you see them in 2019? Let us know! Post in the AirshowStuff Forums or on the AirshowStuff Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

Schedules often change during the year – make sure to check out our airshow calendar for an updated list of airshows and aviation events, plus this and other major schedules all listed in one place! You can also check our forums for discussion on the schedule and shows!

2019 US Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team Appearance Schedule

March 23-24: Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona Air and Space Expo – Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
March 30-31: Wings Over Solano – Travis AFB, CA

April 27-28: MCAS Beaufort Airshow – MCAS Beaufort, SC

May 4-5: Lauderdale Airshow – Fort Lauderdale, FL

June 6: D-Day Celebration – Bedford, VA (Heritage Flight Only)
June 15-16: Wings over Whiteman – Whiteman AFB, MO
June 22: Inland Northwest Skyfest 2019 – Fairchild AFB, WA
June 29-30: National Cherry Festival Airshow – Traverse City, MI

July 4-6: Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow and Balloon Festival – Battle Creek, MI
July 4: Parade Flyover – Racine, WI (One Heritage Flight Pass Only)
July 6: American Freedom Festival – Goshen, IN (Heritage Flight Only)
July 13: Eielson Airshow – Eielson AFB, AK
July 22-28: EAA AirVenture 2019 – Oshkosh, WI
July 27-28: Milwaukee Air and Water Show – Milwaukee, WI (Heritage Flight Only)

August 17-18: Chicago Air and Water Show – Chicago, IL
August 24-25: Rochester International Airshow – Rochester, NY

September 7-8: Spirit of St. Louis Airshow and STEM Expo – Chesterfield, MO
September 14-15: Dover AFB Open House – Dover AFB, DE
September 21-22: Southern Colorado Regional Airshow – Colorado Springs, CO
September 28-29: Robins AFB Airshow – Robins AFB (Warner-Robins), GA

October 19-20: Bell Helicopter Fort Worth Alliance Airshow – Fort Worth, TX

November 2-3: Thunder Over South Georgia – Moody AFB, GA
November 15-17: Aviation Nation Air and Space Expo – Nellis, AFB, NV

USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demo Team 2019 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 0

USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for the US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team! Will you see them in 2019? Let us know! Post in the AirshowStuff Forums or on the AirshowStuff Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

Schedules often change during the year – make sure to check out our airshow calendar for an updated list of airshows and aviation events, plus this and other major schedules all listed in one place! You can also check our forums for discussion on the schedule and shows!

2019 US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team Appearance Schedule

March 30-31: Southernmost Air Spectacular – NAS Key West, FL

April 2-5: Sun ‘n Fun – Lakeland, FL
April 6: Shaw AFB Wing Event – Shaw AFB, SC **Non-public Event

May 4-5: Planes of Fame Air Show – Chino, CA
May 11-12: Chennault International Airshow – Lake Charles, LA
May 25-26: Westmoreland County Airshow – Latrobe, PA

June 1-2: Star Spangled Salute, Tinker AFB, OK
June 8-9: Great Tennessee Airshow, Smyrna, TN
June 15-16: Ocean City Air Show, Ocean City, MD

July 4: Tacoma Freedom Fair – Tacoma, WA
July 6-7: CFB Moose Jaw – Moose Jaw, SK
July 22-28: EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (HF Only) – Oshkosh, WI
July 27-28: Milwaukee Air and Water Show – Milwaukee, WI

August 3-4: Thunder Over Michigan – Ypsilanti, MI

September 14-15: Owensboro Air Show – Owensboro, KY
September 28-29: MCAS Miramar – San Diego, CA

October 5-6: California Capital Airshow – Sacramento, CA
October 12: Apple Valley Airshow – Apple Valley, CA (HF Only)
October 12-13: Central Coast AirFest – Santa Maria, CA
October 19-20: Bell Helicopter Fort Worth/Alliance Airshow – Fort Worth, TX

November 2-3: Stuart Air Show – Stuart, FL
November 9-10: NAS Pensacola Airshow – Pensacola, FL

Red Arrows Announce 2019 North American Tour

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 23
Red Arrows announce 2019 North American Tour across US and Canada
Photo credit: Alex Prins/This is Flight

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, are set to embark on a nine-week programme across the skies of North America is 2019.

The team announced “Western Hawk 19,” an August and September of 2019 tour across Canada and the United States.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Red Arrows would display across the Americas, reaching millions of people and showcasing the very best of British aviation.

“Our Red Arrows fly the flag for Britain across the globe, both in the skies and on the ground, and this tour will not only showcase their teamwork and aviation excellence, but also promote our great nation to billions of people across the world.

“After an incredible year celebrating RAF100, it seems only fitting that the Red Arrows prepare to illuminate the skies of our closest allies in 2019, celebrating and strengthening our incredible relationship with the US.”

The team’s last visit to the United States came in 2008, when they performed in New York, Virginia and other states. That visit in 2008 was a “short visit,” according to the Reds, and the 2019 visit is expected to be much longer.

The US program comes after the Red Arrows’ successful 2016 Asia-Pacific and the Middle East tour.

As well as displaying at a range of shows and events, the team will also attend engagements promoting the UK Government’s GREAT campaign, visit local schools, meet with business leaders and showcase the very best of British culture.

Air Vice-Marshal Warren James, the senior RAF officer responsible for the Red Arrows, said: “The deployment of the Red Arrows will demonstrate the global reach and capability of the RAF and our continuing support of the United Kingdom’s defence and commerce industries.

At this time, the shows the team will be performing at have not been announced, but stay tuned to the AirshowStuff Blog and Facebook Page for the information as soon as it’s announced! You can also discuss your thoughts on the tour and potential tour stops for the Reds in our forums.

Canadian Forces Snowbirds To Visit Blue Angels, Perform For Pensacola

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 1

Canadian Forces Snowbirds

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will be making a rare and surprise appearance at NAS Pensacola next week! The team will be performing demonstrations over the base on May 15 and 16. The Blue Angels also have practice demonstrations those days, but their May 15th (and May 18th) performances are shown as not open to the public. The demonstrations can be viewed from the National Naval Aviation Museum on base.

According to the Pensacola News Journal, this is the plan for public viewing:
– The flight line will open at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, for the Snowbirds performance at 2 p.m.
– Access to the base will begin at 8 a.m., and the flight line will open at 8:30 a.m. before the Blue Angels fly at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 16. There will be an autograph session after the performance in the museum atrium. The flight line will reopen at 1 p.m. to allow for viewing of the Snowbirds demonstration that begins at 2 p.m.
– The flight line will open at 10:30 a.m. for the Blue Angels practice demonstration at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 17.

The Snowbirds are Canada’s national demonstration team. They perform with nine CT-114 Tutor trainer aircraft flying in close formation. You can see their 2018 airshow schedule here on our blog!

USAF Thunderbirds Cancel Appearance At Wings Over Columbus 2018

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 1

USAF Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon

The USAF Thunderbirds have canceled their planned appearance at the 2018 Wings Over Columbus airshow at Columbus AFB in Mississippi. The move was announced in a video update by Thunderbird #1 following the death of Thunderbird #4, Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, in a crash during practice last week. The team had previously announced they were skipping their performances at the March ARB airshow this past weekend as well as Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, FL next weekend.

It is important to note that while the Thunderbird performances have been canceled, the airshows themselves will be held as originally scheduled. The Air Force’s Air Combat Command has been working to add single-ship demonstrations to affected shows; Sun ‘n Fun recently announced that the F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration team (Viper Demo) will perform there to fill in for the Thunderbirds.

We have updated our 2018 USAF Thunderbirds schedule to reflect the confirmed cancellations, but we expect more appearances to be canceled as part of a safety stand down after the accident. Stay tuned to AirshowStuff for future updates.

USAF Thunderbirds Cancel Appearances After Fatal Accident

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 1

Thunderbirds Cancel Shows

Following a crash which killed Thunderbird #4, the team has canceled some upcoming shows.

As of April 6th, the team’s performances at March AFB and Sun ‘n Fun have been canceled. The rest of the season schedule is still to be determined. Canceling shows while the team stands down to investigate the mishap and take time to grieve is standard protocol following crashes.

“Though we are deeply saddened by their loss of a valuable teammate, we totally understand and support the Thunderbirds’ decision. They have a requirement to take the necessary time to assess their current situation and plot a path forward, and we certainly respect their professionalism and diligence in ensuring their safe return to airshows,” said John Leenhouts, SUN ‘n FUN President/CEO.

Leenhouts also confirmed that this year’s daily airshows will include several activities to honor the service of Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, the fallen Thunderbird Number 4, and that a portion of the proceeds from this year’s event will be donated through the proper channels to support the Thunderbird family.

The Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC) and Sun ‘n Fun are working together to bring alternative USAF demonstrations to the event.

In a statement, Airshow Director Greg Gibson said “We appreciate ACC’s efforts on our behalf in such a short timeframe. They are working to make available a potential first-line combat aircraft to perform full aerial displays and/or engage in Heritage Flights with several of the numerous rare WWII fighters we have in attendance this year. We will make periodic announcements throughout the following days as these appearances are confirmed.”

Please visit our forums for further discussion on the crash and what it means for the airshow season.

Snowbirds Change 2018 Schedule To Add Airshow London Performances

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 0

Canadian Forces Snowbirds

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will once again soar over London, Ontario this September. Organizers of Airshow London announced today that the team has added the show to their 2018 schedule and will perform on September 7, 8, and 9.

London is one of Canada’s largest airshows and it was quite surprising that it did not appear on the original 2018 schedule for the Snowbirds. The team instead planned to perform in Mont-Joli, Quebec that weekend instead. We have very little information on that event and do not know if it will be held now or not.

We have updated our copy of the 2018 Canadian Forces Snowbirds schedule to reflect the change. Please make sure to follow our forums to stay up to date as it continues to change throughout the year!

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