Blue Angels Set To Kick Off 2019 Airshow Season This Weekend

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 0

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

The 2019 US airshow season will kick into high gear this weekend when the Blue Angels perform at NAF El Centro in California. The team has been at the base for months, flying the 120 practice flights that make up their winter training syllabus.

We visited El Centro last week to get a look at the team, and you can watch one of their full practices below. Unfortunately the winds prevented us from catching the usual jaw dropping low takeoff, but it’s still a rare treat to watch a performance from the end of the runway, on the 1500-foot show line! Listen to the radio comms in the video to hear the wind callouts at various points during the routine.

We have also heard that the team’s famous C-130 Hercules “Fat Albert” has been spotted flying demonstrations in practice, but there is no official word from the team as to her status during the season. Previously, rumors held that they do not plan to fly demonstrations this year as they work to preserve airframe hours until the planned purchase and acquisition of a C-130J from the Royal Air Force is finalized.

Fat Albert performances have been sporadic and rare since 2016, when corrosion issues were discovered that lead to the aircraft being sidelined for a months-long overhaul period. Less than a month after resuming performances in July of 2017, a Marine Corps KC-130 crashed in Louisiana, killing 16. The crash investigation discovered widespread problems with the propellers, and Fat Albert was again grounded, along with the rest of the C-130T fleet.

Bert resumed transportation duties with the team in mid-2018, but did not really perform. Flying the demonstration profile requires a significant investment in training time, so if the crew is flying practice demonstrations now, it seems all but certain that at least a few will be performed in 2019. Of course, they may be extremely limited, rare treats for the home town crowds in El Centro and Pensacola.

For their part, the US Air Force Thunderbirds have been busy with their own winter training as well as several high profile flyovers of the Super Bowl, Daytona 500, and the premiere of the new Captain Marvel movie. The movie is special because it includes a number of tributes to fallen Thunderbird pilot Major Stephen Del Bagno. They open their show season next weekend at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ.

Of course, there are many airshows without jet teams and those are kicking into high gear as well. We attended the MCAS Yuma Airshow last weekend, and the Space Coast Warbird Airshow in Titusville, FL will be taking place this weekend.

Want to know where you can see the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, and other major performers in 2019? Head over to our airshow calendar and search for events near you!

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!

Thunderbirds Add Traverse City To 2019 Airshow Schedule

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 2

US Air Force Thunderbirds - AirshowStuff

The US Air Force Thunderbirds have added the National Cherry Festival Airshow in Traverse City, MI to their 2019 performance schedule!

The June 29-30 weekend was previously marked as open after the cancellation of the Rhode Island Airshow in November. Because the following weekend is booked out as a mid-season break before the team travels to Colombia, it was not apparent whether they would fill the weekend or opt for a longer break.

Traverse City will also be hosting the F-22 Raptor demonstration team and an US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier demonstration.

Easily browse nearby airshows and performer schedules using our Airshow and Aviation Event Calendar!

Sequestration All Over Again: Looming 2020 Budget Cuts May Ground Blue Angels, Other Military Demonstrations

posted in: Jet Teams, Military | 0

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

Without action from Congress, the Navy could be forced to cancel the Blue Angels’ 2020 airshow season according to a report delivered to lawmakers by Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. The report explores the would-be fallout of potential sequestration budget cuts that are set to go into effect in January of 2020.

Although the Blue Angels are probably the highest profile impact mentioned, the cuts would have strong impact throughout the military. The US Air Force’s contingency report has not been publicized, but it is almost certain that performances by the USAF Thunderbirds and other military demonstration teams would similarly be eliminated or severely reduced should this scenario play out.

While these cuts can be avoided as long as Congress acts prior to the January 2020 deadline, airshow fans know all too well that that can’t be counted on. In 2013, sequestration cuts did go into effect. The military teams were forced to abandon their scheduled plans and many airshows across the country struggled or canceled outright after losing the popular acts. It took years for a number of popular demonstrations to return, and some are still not back to pre-cut levels. It’s safe to say that the airshow industry as a whole is eager to see a second “lost season” prevented as soon as possible.

The timing of the cuts is also interesting, because the Blue Angels are expected to transition to flying the F/A-18 Super Hornet in the next few years. We already noted that their preliminary 2020 schedule ends about a month earlier than usual. The common assumption is that this would provide extra time to practice in the new aircraft before the 2021 season begins. There is no mention in the report of how the transition might be impacted should the cuts come to pass.

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!

2019 USMC AV-8B Harrier Demonstrations Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 0

USMC AV-8B Harrier - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier demonstrations! Will you see one 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!

As is typical for the Marines, this initial list is quite short. A handful of other shows are usually added as the year progresses, and many Marine Corps Air Stations end up hosting demos as well.

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 Appearance Schedule – USMC AV-8B Harrier Demonstrations

May 25-26: Westmoreland County Airshow – Latrobe, PA
June 29-30: National Cherry Festival Airshow – Traverse City, MI
July 4: Tacoma Freedom Fair – Tacoma, WA

2019 USMC MV-22 Osprey Demonstrations Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 0

US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey demonstrations! Will you see one 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 Appearance Schedule – USMC MV-22 Osprey Demonstrations

May 25-26: Miami Beach Air and Sea Show – Miami, FL

July 4th: Fair St. Louis – St. Louis, MO

August 16-18: 61st Annual Chicago Air and Water Show – Chicago, IL
August 23-25: Fly Ottumwa Air Show – Ottumwa, IA

US Army Golden Knights 2019 Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Parachute Team, Schedules | 2

US Army Golden Knights - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for the US Army Golden Knights! 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!

Please note that the initial schedule includes many open dates that will likely be filled. The Golden Knights have two performance teams, the Black Team and the Gold Team, so they can appear at two events simultaneously. The schedule does not specify which team will perform where.

Schedules often change during the year – for the latest updates please be sure to check our forums!

2019 US Army Golden Knights Appearance Schedule

March 26: Women’s Leadership Event – Fort Knox, KY
March 30-31: Wings over Solano – Travis AFB, CA

April 13-14: Thunder Over Louisville – Louisville, KY
April 19: Operation Patriot – Boston, MA

May 25-26: Jones Beach Airshow – Wantaugh, NY
May 25-26: Miami Air and Sea Show – Miami, FL

June 22: Inland Northwest Skyfest – Fairchild AFB, WA
June 22-23: Dayton Airshow –- Dayton, OH

July 3: Dubuque JayCees Radio Airshow and Fireworks – Dubuque, IA
July 6-7: KC Airshow – Kansas City, MO
July 13-14:Gary Air and Water Show – Gary, IN
July 20-21: Amelia Earhart Women in Aviation Celebration – Archeon, KS
July 27-28: Milwaukee Air and Water Show – Milwaukee, WI
July 27-28: Grand Junction City Airshow – Grand Junction, CO

August 17-18: 61st Chicago Air and Water Show – Chicago, IL
August 21: Atlantic City Thunder Over the Boardwalk – Atlantic City, NJ
August 31-September 1: Cleveland Airshow – Cleveland, OH

September 28-29: MCAS Miramar Airshow – MCAS Miramar, CA

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

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team 2019 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 0

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for the US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II 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 A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team Appearance Schedule

February 17: 19th Annual Stars and Stripes Air Show Spectacular – Laredo, TX

March 9-10: Yuma Airshow – MCAS Yuma, AZ
March 23-24: Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona Air and Space Expo – Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
March 30-31: Thunder Over the Bay – Travis AFB, CA
March 30-31: Key West Airshow, Key West, FL

April 13-14: Wings Over South Texas Air Show – NAS Corpus Christi, TX
April 24-27: Feria Aeroespecial Mexico – Santa Lucia AB, Mexico

May 4: Manassas Airshow – Manassas, VA
May 11-12: JB Andrews Airshow – Joint Base Andrews, MD
May 18-19: Hangar 24 Airfest – Redlands, CA

June 15-16: Wings Over Whiteman – Whiteman AFB, MO
June 29-30: Quad City Air Show – Davenport, IA

July 3: Dubuque JayCees Radio Dubuque Air Show and Fireworks – Dubuque, IA
July 6-7: KC Air Show – Kansas City, MO
July 12-14: History of Flight Air Show – Geneseo, NY
July 27-28: Grand Junction Air Show – Grand Junction, CO

August 17-18: Edmonton Airshow – Edmonton, AB
August 24-25: Pocono Raceway Festival of Flight & Airshow – Long Pond, PA
August 31-September 2: Cleveland National Airshow – Cleveland, OH

September 7: Northern Illinois Airshow – Waukegan, IL
September 13-15: Airshow London – London, ON
September 28-29: Wings Over Wine Country Air Show – Santa Rosa, CA

October 5-6: The Great Pacific Airshow – Huntington Beach, CA

US Navy Blue Angels 2019 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 42

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for the US Navy Blue Angels! 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 Navy Blue Angels Airshow Appearance Schedule

March 16-17: NAF El Centro Air Show – NAF El Centro, CA
March 23-24: California International Airshow – Salinas, CA
March 30-31: NAS Key West Southernmost Air Show – NAS Key West, FL

April 6-7: Sun-n-Fun Fly-In Expo – Lakeland, FL
April 13-14: Wings Over South Texas – NAS Corpus Christi, TX
April 20-21: OFF WEEK
April 27-28: MCAS Beaufort Air Show – MCAS Beaufort, SC

May 4-5: Ford Lauderdale Air Show – Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 11-12: JB Andrews Air Show – JB Andrews, MD
May 18-19: Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival – Cape Girardeau, MO
May 22: U.S. Naval Academy Air Show – Annapolis, MD
May 24: U.S. Naval Academy Graduation Flyover – Annapolis, MD
May 25-26: Miami Beach Air & Sea Show – Miami Beach, FL

June 1-2: Star Spangled Salute Air Show – Tinker AFB, OK
June 8-9: Great Tennessee Air Show – Smyrna, TN
June 15-16: Ocean City Airshow – Ocean City, MD
June 22-23: OFF WEEK
June 29-30: Quad City Air Show – Davenport, IA

July 6-7: KC Downtown Air Show – Kansas City, MO
July 13: Pensacola Beach Airshow – Pensacola Beach, FL
July 20-21: Duluth Air Show and Aviation Expo – Duluth, MN
July 27-28: Grand Junction Air Show – Grand Junction, CO

August 3-4: Seafair Boeing Air Show – Seattle, WA
August 17-18: 61st Chicago Air And Water Show – Chicago, IL
August 24-25: New York Air Show – Stewart ANG Base, Newburgh, NY
August 31-September 1: Atlantic Canada International Air Show – Greenwood, NS

September 7-8: Spirit of St. Louis Air Show – Chesterfield, MO
September 14-15: OFF WEEK
September 21-22: NAS Lemoore Central Valley Air Show – NAS Lemoore, CA
September 28-29: MCAS Miramar Air Show – MCAS Miramar, CA

October 5-6: California Capital Airshow – Sacramento, CA
October 12-13: San Francisco Fleet Week – San Francisco, CA
October 19-20: Fort Worth Alliance Air Show – Fort Worth, TX
October 26-27: Jacksonville Sea and Sky Spectacular – Jacksonville Beach, FL

November 2-3: Thunder Over South Georgia – Moody AFB, GA
November 8-9: Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow – NAS Pensacola, FL

Want to look a little further ahead? We also have a copy of the preliminary 2020 US Navy Blue Angels schedule!

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