The 2017 Lethbridge International Air Show Was One To Remember

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Canadian Forces Snowbirds - Lethbridge International Air Show 2017

The biennial Lethbridge International Air Show returned in 2017 as a highlight worth catching in Southern Alberta and Western Canada. With a full list of performers of all types and a static display that was impressive to say the least, the July 15-16 weekend was well spent in Lethbridge.

Friday – Night Show

Friday’s schedule started late to allow for a twilight show, something which is thankfully becoming more common. The show began with the United States Army Golden Knights jumping in at the start of golden hour. Shortly after they landed, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds took to the skies for yet another excellent performance, even with one ship missing. With light fading, the Canadian Air Force CC-177 Globemaster III powered down the runway and bolted into the sky. Geoff Latter in his Nanchang CJ-6 “Nancy” followed, then the United States Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” mini-demo with some up-close and impressive pyro. Canada’s own Pete McLeod of Red Bull Air Racing fame tumbled through the sky just before Mark Peterson in his Dornier AlphaJet demonstrated how high-performance a non-afterburning jet can be. Greg “Wired” Colyer in his T-33 Shooting Star “Ace Maker II” kept it low and fast ahead of Jerry Conley in his beautiful de Havilland DH-115 Vampire “Vampy ‘Too’.” Just before the sun began to set, the Golden Knights fit in their full routine.

US Army Golden Knights - Lethbridge International Air Show 2017de Havilland DH-115 Vampire "Vampy Too" - Lethbridge International Air Show 2017

The highlight of the show was certainly the last demo, and one the crowds were waiting for: the CF-18 Hornet. The Hornet, with afterburners lighting up the runway, burnt a trail across the then night sky. Before finishing his routine, Bill Braack in the Smoke-N-Thunder Jetcar took to the runway and challenged the Hornet to a race, of which the outcome was undetermined by most spectators due to the enormous and impressive wall of fire that lit the grounds and sky as they crossed the finished line.

While the flying had finished and most were filing out of the show, a smaller, less-appreciated setting had been set on the static display. Folks on their way off of the airport were treated to the numerous aircraft on the static line lit up by large, portable lights, providing a unique and often unseen view as the last bit of light faded from the day into the dark.

CAF CF-18 Hornet - Lethbridge International Air Show 2017CAF Snowbirds - Lethbridge International Air Show 2017

Saturday – Full Show

This was the first and only day to show the full line-up of performers in the light of day. Attendance was noticeably high, despite the winds and approaching weather that persisted throughout the day. Nearly all performers were able to fit in their routines without issue. The Golden Knights were able to complete their first jump (which we were graciously allowed to observe from the aircraft), but unable to finish their second due to the winds. This prompted Transport Canada to monitor the approaching storm, and once it closed within 1 km, the show was postponed for a mandatory evacuation of the grounds. Shortly after, lightning struck the end of the runway. By then, the NOTAM set to secure the airspace for the performers was too near its end to continue the show, and the decision was made to cancel the remainder of the acts (CF-18 and Snowbirds).

Pete McLeod (Red Bull Air Racer) - Lethbridge International Air Show 2017Mustang High Flight - Dornier AlphaJet - Lethbridge International Air Show 2017

Sunday – Mini-Show

With the same hours as the full show, but with select performances, the mini-show was intended to give first-time attendees a taste of what an air show is like. The winds were still high throughout the day, resulting in the Golden Knights cancelling their demo that afternoon. The acts that did still take the sky included the CC-177, T-33, AlphaJet, Vampire, A-10, CAF Snowbirds, CJ-6, and CF-18.

RCAF CC-177 Globemaster III - Lethbridge International Air Show 2017A-10 Thunderbolt II Warthog - Lethbridge International Air Show 2017

Statics

Certainly the aerial performers were worth the admission, but just as equally the static displays that attended proved worthwhile. All of the aircraft on the website’s listing of confirmed attendees showed up except the Transport Canada National Aerial Surveillance Dash 8. In a surprise filling of the Dash 8’s vacancy, a US Navy E-6B Mercury airborne command post and communications relay aircraft from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma came to the show. Additionally, a Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 from 410 Tactical Fighter Operational Training Squadron, nicknamed the “Cougars,” with a special 75th anniversary painted tail joined the many heavies on the line. The show had a total of three C-17s on display, with one from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Altus AFB, Oklahoma, and a CC-177 from CFB Trenton, Ontario.

USMC MV-22 Osprey on static - Lethbridge International Air Show 2017USN E-6B Mercury on static - Lethbridge International Air Show 2017

With a few hiccups throughout the weekend due to weather and other elements out of the show’s control, the 2017 Lethbridge International Air Show was able to impress with a stellar line-up of performers and a static display most shows would envy. We at AirshowStuff would like the thank the Lethbridge International Air Show Association and its volunteers for putting on this year’s show. We’d also like to thank Kim and Trina Tymko of Prime Rentals Ltd. for their sponsorship of the air show and help in coordinating our visit. We look forward to seeing you all again in 2019!

Look for much more coverage of this great event on our Facebook page and Youtube channel as we work through a mountain of content!

2015 Vectren Dayton Air Show Entertains Despite Rain

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Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015

Two jet teams soared over Dayton, OH this month (June 20-21) as the 2015 Vectren Dayton Air Show hosted both the USAF Thunderbirds and the Breitling Jet Team. The real story, however, was the weather. The week leading up to the show was soured by the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill, which brought low clouds and soaking rains to the area. Saturday looked to be a total washout, and Sunday also was far from guaranteed. Luckily the performers and show officials were able to work around the weather to put on an entertaining event!

USAF Thunderbirds - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet Demonstration Team - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015

Saturday started out with a lot of low clouds and a constant rain. The morning was a great chance to visit the nearby National Museum of the United States Air Force. The rain let up in the early afternoon and Sean D. Tucker started off the weekend’s flying after a ground run by Shockwave. Only a few acts were skipped; The US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet demonstration team, the USCG HH-65 Dolphin, Breitling Jet Team, and the Thunderbirds were all able to perform after the airspace flight restrictions were extended later into the afternoon. The crowd was understandably small, but the grounds were still turned to mud by the foot traffic. The grass parking lots were also a muddy disaster, and many cars got stuck. Show officials moved quickly overnight to make alternative arrangements. Paved parking lots nearby were put into use, and shuttle buses were brought in to service them. The show even worked with a local towing company and car wash to make sure that any stuck cars were removed and washed for free. That’s fantastic customer service!

Sunday started off hot and humid. Scattered showers and thunderstorms were in the forecast, but neither ended up anywhere nearby. The clouds stayed lower though, and forced low shows by the Super Hornet and Thunderbirds. The crowd filled in very slowly, surely due to the confusion over the parking and the choke point of the shuttle buses. The show has been forced in recent years to face the harsh reality of static display availability, and the ramp that historically has overflowed with aircraft was rather sparse due to the budget situation. They did spring for some warbirds at least, like the C-46 Commando “Tinker Belle”, and even brought in a pair of A-4 Skyhawks owned by Draken International. In order to give the fans something extra to look at in recent years, the show has set up the Performer Pit Row, an area for the flying performers to park near the spectators.

Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015 From AboveDraken International A-4 Skyhawk - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015

The flying portion was noticeably shorter than usual, but it was actually a welcome change. Instead of endless repeat performances and repetitive acts, it was a sort of highlight reel with a very good variety of performances. Matt Younkin, the Screamin’ Sasquatch Jet Waco, and the Golden Knights (get an inside look at their performance here) were able to perform on Sunday after sitting out Saturday’s show. The DAV’s B-25 “Panchito” even got added to the lineup as a surprise act, and was given over 10 minutes to do flybys in front of the crowd. The shorter lineup also meant less time in the hot and humid air!

Jack Link's Screamin' Sasquatch Jet Waco Biplane - Vectren Dayton Air Show 2015US Army Golden Knights - Vectren Dayton Air Show 2015

This was our first look at the Breitling Jet Team, and they were thoroughly enjoyable. The team is based in France, but is touring around North America for the summer to advertise for their sponsor. The team flies their seven L-39s as hard anyone else, and the routine is a nice mix of large formation grace and solo aircraft high speed maneuvers. For their final maneuver, six of the team split formation and fire flares from their aircraft. This is a rarity at US shows and was well received by the crowd. The entire routine lasted about 25 minutes, although the team cut it down to 15 minutes on Saturday to make way for the Thunderbirds. It is a shame that Breitling has canceled several of their remaining Midwest appearances this year, including AirVenture in Oshkosh.

USAF Thunderbirds, Breitling Jet Team, and US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet Demonstration Team - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015B-25 Mitchell "Panchito" - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015

Overall the show was very good, and only the weather could have made it better. Major credit is due to the organizers for solving the parking lot issue when many other shows may have canceled. Hopefully next year they will be able to expand the static and flying lineup a bit, but that is partially out of the shows control. The Vectren Dayton Air Show will return on June 18-19, 2016 and feature the US Navy Blue Angels!

Breitling Jet Team - Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015