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!

A Three Mile Explosion! Tora Bomb Squad Smashes Own World Record For Longest Wall Of Fire

posted in: Airshows, Miscellaneous | 0

Tora Bomb Squad

The Tora Bomb Squad, led by Gordon Webb, and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma announced they have set the world record for the world’s longest wall of fire on March 18, 2017 at the MCAS Yuma airshow. The record was officially certified for 4,890.9 meters, or roughly 16,046.5 feet. That is equivalent to 3.04 miles!

This isn’t the first time that MCAS Yuma and the Tora Bomb Squad have partnered to set the world record. In fact, they beat themselves for this world record. In 2009, they set the world record for the longest wall of fire with an explosion that measured 3,102.35 meters, or roughly 10,178.3 ft. That equates to just under 2 miles.

From the Tora Tora Tora Airshows Facebook page:

HUGE NEWS!!! As you may know, in 2009, we set a Guinness World Record for the world’s longest wall of fire. This year in March, with the help of MCAS Yuma, we attempted to break our own record. Today we got confirmation. MCAS Yuma and The Tora Bomb Squad broke their own record. The new record officially is now 16,046.5 feet!! That’s 3.04 statute miles!!

Congratulations Tora and MCAS Yuma on setting this world record!

Written for AirshowStuff by Bretten Bailey

Celebrate The 4th Of July With These Photos Of Fireworks And Airplanes!

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

B-29 Superfortress "Fifi" Fireworks

Happy 4th of July! Over the years, AirshowStuff’s photographers have had the opportunity to capture many fantastic fireworks displays at airshows and special events around the country.

Here are just a few of our favorite photos!

B-24 Liberator FireworksC-17 Globemaster III Fireworks

Canadian Snowbirds Fireworks

F-4 Phantom FireworksB-29 Superfortress "Fifi" Fireworks

F-22, F-35, and P-38 Fireworks

If you’re interested in a behind the scenes look at how the crew at DTG Pyrotechnics sets up their EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fireworks display, check out our blog post from 2015.

F-22 Raptor Fireworks

P-51 Mustang FireworksF-22 Raptor Fireworks

Of course, at airshows, fireworks aren’t just shot from the ground! They’re shot off of airplanes too!

Fireworks

Gene Soucy FireworksGene Soucy Fireworks

P-51 Mustang Fireworks

Otto the Helicopter Fireworks

V-22 Osprey and B-17 Flying Fortress Fireworks

Haven’t had enough fireworks? Search for fireworks on our photo gallery! There’s plenty more pictures over there!

WATCH: Legendary Warbirds Strafe, Bomb, And Wow – With Pyro!

Warbird Extravaganza!

The Texas Flying Legends Museum in Houston, TX owns an impressive collection of WWII-era warbirds, and they put on an amazing display last year at AirVenture! With aircraft ranging from P-51 Mustangs to a British Spitfire to the B-25 Mitchell, this video has some serious warbird punch, including some excellent pyro. Check out this video where you get to see legends like the Mitchell, Mustang, Spitfire, Corsair, Wildcat, and Warhawk perform pass after pass. Strafing, bombing, diving, and climbing as they put on a show for the ages.

You’ll get to see a rare formation of the aircraft flying overhead. You’ll hear the beautiful sound of the Merlin engines of the Mustang along with the deep and throaty roar of the Mitchell as it passes before you with the bomb bay doors open. You’ll get the full effect of the machine gun chatter as the fighters pass by, and you can almost feel the heat from the explosions as they burst below these beautiful aircraft. So if you enjoy warbirds, and who doesn’t really, then turn up the volume and enjoy this awesome video!

Be sure to browse the AirshowStuffVideos channel on YouTube for more great videos.

-Justin Miner

Texas Flying Legends FormationB-25 Mitchell

Behind The Scenes At EAA AirVenture With DTG Pyrotechnics

posted in: Airshows, Event Recap, Miscellaneous | 1

USMC AV-8B Harrier II Twilight Demonstration - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Some air shows around the country feature a night show in their lineup. We all go for the afterburners and lit-up aircraft streaking across the dark sky, but what show would be complete without a fireworks closer? Those beautiful works of fiery aerial artistry make for a nightly spectacle worth waiting for (and some awesome photo opportunities too!). For this year’s EAA AirVenture, the cool crew of DTG Pyrotechnics were in charge of the firework shows throughout the event and they invited us out with them for a peek at how they pull off their dazzling displays.

For the Saturday night show, I met up with the team at their staging area on the east side of the airport. Inside the hangar, the team was busy making final preparations for the show ahead. There the leader of this cool outfit, Dion Diehl, huddled everyone together to go over last minute checks and planning. Afterwards, Jason Strazishar gave me a tour of the multiple semis in their convoy, and what an impressive sight it was. Each truck towed a flatbed rigged with dozens of batteries all containing carefully placed and organized mortars, cakes, and other aerials.

DTG Fireworks - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 DTG Fireworks - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Now, there’s a certain way to execute a stellar fireworks display. At the base of it all, each firework consists of a shell, or an aerial item that is fired into the sky. However, not all fireworks are designed the same; certain types produce certain effects. For example, a mortar is a paper or plastic tube containing a shell with a long fuse. The shell has a lift charge on the bottom that helps propel it into the air. Cakes are an item that has a single fuse which is used to light several tubes in sequence. The set piece is a ground item consisting of many colored lances that is used to draw a picture.

DTG Fireworks - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 DTG Fireworks - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Regardless of the type, each item needs a source of ignition for their fuses before they can be launched into the sky. Enter the “squib”, or electric match. The 1-in long, 1/4-in wide device consists of a small nickel-chromium wire with a pyrogen coating. An electrical current causes the nickel-chromium wire to heat up, igniting the pyrogen and starting the fuse. Each squib is hooked up to a very thin and very long wire that runs to a hub that is then connected to the control terminal. It is there that the real magic is worked.

DTG Fireworks - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Dion had spent dozens of hours coding the show to flow exactly how he wanted it. From his program, he could set certain shots to launch together and independently with incredible precision. This also allows for each shell to be monitored for connection to the control terminal to ensure all are ready to go and no wires or connections are cut. Each squib carries an ID that can be controlled and organized within DTG’s performance timeline. So imagine, if you will, the amount of shells one can fit to a single battery aboard a large flatbed trailer and multiply that a few times. That’s a lot to setup and organize in coding alone. But when it’s all said and done, and done properly, the display is truly a spectacle to behold.

With a final look-over and check by the team, the convoy was ready to roll out. There was a gap in the AirVenture performance schedule to allow the team to set up for the night show. The team moved out and began setting up their trailers in the grass on either side of taxiway A2 along runway 18-36. They shared the field with the Tora! Tora! Tora! pyro team who were in charge of the wall of fire that would conclude the night show. At show center on A2 was the trailer carrying the set piece. Once everything was in place, the team began to quickly run the thousands of feet of wire between each trailer together, and prepared to run it all across the runway to the control terminal once the flying had concluded.

USMC AV-8B Harrier II Twilight Demonstration - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 F-100 Super Sabre Air Force Warbird Jet AirVenture Oshkosh
USAF F-4 Phantom II Twilight Demonstration - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015F-100 Super Sabre Twilight Performance - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Once the flying resumed, it was again time to wait. Luckily, it is not hard to wait when you have the best seat in the house for twilight demonstrations of the USMC AV-8B Harrier, F-100 Super Sabre, and USAF F-4 Phantom II along with the various night time aerobatic performances. But after the sun had set and the last aircraft was safely on the ground, it was back to work with only a little time to get it ready.

USMC AV-8B Harrier II Twilight Demonstration - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015USMC AV-8B Harrier II Twilight Demonstration - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

It was a rush to get everything organized, people in place, the terminal connected, and to start the show. Though, when it kicked off, it kicked off with a bang. Particularly with a series of what are referred to as “pants-fillers,” or explosives that are meant to create a loud, attention-getting bang. And for those not prepared for their detonation, well, the name implies the result. When things started up, I booked it from the trailer on A2 down the taxiway to the semis and caught the show from the other side as best I could. There’s something to be said for the factor of proximity and its affect on the entertainment of the show. Being further back for Wednesday night’s show allowed me to capture nearly the whole arc of the aerial display, while being closer in made photos far more challenging but sent the enjoyment factor through the roof.

DTG Fireworks - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 DTG Fireworks - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

When the wall of fire finale went off, I packed up my equipment and went back out onto the taxiway. There were small fires where pyrotechnics and once been that were being tended to, debris of every kind littered along the whole length of the taxiway, and plenty of smiles after another successful show. While my work had ended for the night, the crew of DTG still had plenty left to do as far as cleaning and packing up.

With a nice farewell, a lonely stroll across the runway back to the crowd line, and a moment of silent sentiment shared with a solitary F-4, I concluded my AirVenture experience and my time with DTG Pyrotechnics. The DTG team are a proficient and professional team with plenty of skill and chum to share. I look forward to crossing paths with them again and hope to see their dazzling displays again at future AirVentures.

P-38 Lightning and Fireworks - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Thank you to Jason Strazishar for contacting us with this grand opportunity, and to Dion and the rest of the DTG crew allowing me to come experience how a professional pyrotechnic show is done. You can connect with the DTG team by liking their Facebook page.