US Navy Forum Teases Return Of Legacy Flights In 2018 – And More!

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US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet

The jet team/military demo schedules are the highlight of each annual International Council of Airshows (ICAS) convention, but the military forums and presentations also have some interesting bits of info for fans. This year the Navy forum in particular yielded some very interesting and exciting news items.

First, the F/A-18C Hornet (AKA Baby Hornet or Legacy Hornet) demos appear to be a thing of the past. All F-18 demonstrations in 2018 will be either F/A-18E or F/A-18F Super Hornets. As in the past, they will be flown by a West Coast team out of NAS Lemoore, CA and an East Coast team out of NAS Oceana, VA. The F/A-18E demos will only be flown by Lemoore crews.

Second, and maybe the biggest news of the forum; Legacy Flights might be back! The presentation includes the requirements for a show to host a Legacy Flight, and says the performance will consist of a short profile similar to that flown in the past. Legacy Flights have not been regularly performed for years now, although a Super Hornet and Corsair formation flight was arranged at the Cleveland airshow this past September. No word yet on what warbirds might be among the approved performers.

The third major takeaway from the forum is that there appears to be no limit on Navy static displays in 2018! Each year since sequestration (2013) has seen the military branches place limits on how many of their aircraft could be approved for static display at each airshow. This has gradually been lifted each year and thankfully it appears to be a nonissue in 2018; static display ramps may be a little fuller this summer!

The schedule for the F-18 demonstrations is not expected to be released for a while, but the the teams are approved for 46 airshows total. As noted, we are currently seeking some more information on these topics and will post any updates that we receive!

Exciting New Details And Developments For EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017

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B-1B Lancer Twilight Flyover

EAA had their annual AirVenture webinar today, where they preview the main attractions and airshow performers at the convention in Oshkosh. In addition to the well-known highlights like the US Navy Blue Angels, USAF F-35 Lightning II and A-10 Thunderbolt II Heritage Flight teams, the Apollo astronaut reunion, Blue Origin’s rocket display, and the bomber parade, we learned about several major military/warbird developments that are planned for the show.

The webinar is summarized in more detail on our forums, and we invite you to add your own thoughts there as well!

F-35 Lightning II and P-51 Mustang Heritage FlightB-25 Mitchell Bombing Run

Here are some of our favorite mentions on the webinar:

  • B-1B Lancer bomber to fly in Monday and perform in the Wednesday twilight airshow
  • Different F-35/A-10/P-51 Heritage Flight formations each day
  • Airbus A400M from the Royal Air Force arriving and departing on Wednesday
  • MASSIVE pyro (96 bombs!) to open the Doolittle Raid reenactment – six bombs per B-25 Mitchell flying
  • Two A-10s will perform a field attack demo with pyro
  • Numerous military aircraft throughout the week, including F-22 Raptors, AH-64 Apaches, and F-16 Fighting Falcons
  • Potential surprise national anthem flybys on Tuesday and Wednesday – very mysterious right now
  • Blue Angel survey flights are being split between Thursday (diamond) and Friday (solos/Fat Albert)
  • Notable warbirds include the F-86A Sabre, Boeing YL-15, C-123 Provider, A-20 Havoc, P-63 King Cobra, SBD Dauntless, P-47 Thunderbolts, Spitfire Mk. IX, and possible B-24 Liberator

Again, there are a lot more details in our EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017 thread than we can share here, so please head there to read up and join the discussion! What do you think the surprise flybys might be?

V-22 Osprey And MQ-9 Reaper Make Historic First Static Appearance In Canada At 2017 Lethbridge Intl. Airshow

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USMC MV-22 Osprey - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014

Some of the most advanced machines in modern military hardware are making their way to the Lethbridge International Airshow this year – their first static appearances in Canada. Both aircraft will be featured guests as part of the growing static display set to appear at the show July 14-16.

The innovative Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft will be coming from Marine Corps Air Station Mirimar in San Diego, California. The Osprey has the unique ability to transition from vertical flight to conventional flight via the rotation of its two large turboshaft engines and rotors. First fielded in March 2007, the MV-22 has seen extensive use on deployments with the United States Marine Corps.

USMC MV-22 Osprey - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014USAF General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper Static Display Aviation Nation Nellis Air Force Base AFB Creech

Accompanying the MV-22 on static display will be the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) from Creech Air Force Base outside Las Vegas, Nevada. Following the success and use of the now-dated MQ-1 Predator, General Atomics improved the airframe and capability to form the MQ-9. You will get a chance to see both the MQ-9 and MQ-1 on display together over the show weekend. As the face of the future in unmanned aerial systems, the Reaper UCAV will be an attraction all its own, amidst other exciting spectacles at this year’s show.

Royal Canadian Air Force CC-177 Globemaster III Anniversary Paint 2017 429 Squadron
Courtesy of the RCAF

Equally as exciting, a specially-painted CC-177 Globemaster III from 429 Transport Squadron “Bisons” of 8 Wing in Trenton, Ontario will be attending the show. The squadron has painted the tail of their aircraft to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the unit’s formation and 10 years of the Globemaster III’s service with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Additionally, newly-confirmed aircraft to join the static display listing for the show include the US Navy’s P-8 Poseidon, C-2 Greyhound, and E-2 Hawkeye, and the US Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog,” C-17 Globemaster III, and C-5M Super Galaxy.

You can learn more about what else will be shown off at this year’s Lethbridge International Airshow at the event’s website .

Are you planning on attending the Lethbridge International Airshow this year? Join the conversation in our forums!

Thunder Over Michigan 2017 To Host North American Airshow Debut Of German A400M Atlas

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Airbus A400M Atlas
Photo courtesy of Airbus

Fans at Thunder Over Michigan will have a special opportunity to see Europe’s newest cargo aircraft this summer. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) will be bringing an Airbus A400M Atlas in for static display at the show. It will be the first North American airshow appearance for the aircraft, which has been in service since only 2014. The show has hosted a German C-160 Transall, which is being replaced by the A400M, in the past.

Thunder Over Michigan is an annual airshow organized to support the Yankee Air Museum. It is held at Willow Run airport near Detroit, MI, and typically boasts one of the strongest warbird lineups in the country. This year’s show will be held on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-4, and will feature the US Navy Blue Angels as the headline act. Warbirds and other performers are still in the works.

F-35 Will Debut At 2016 Abbotsford International Airshow

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USAF F-35 Lightning II

Big news came from the Abbotsford International Airshow August 5, 2016 with the announcement that a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II will be on public display at the show, which takes place on August 12th through the 14th in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The F-35 on display will be one from the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing out of Hill AFB, Utah. Alongside the Lightning II throughout the weekend will be Lockheed Martin Senior Test Pilot Billie Flynn, a former Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet pilot, to talk about the aircraft and its capabilities. This will be the first F-35 appearance in Canada.

While the F-35 is still a prospective replacement for the aging CF-18 Hornet fleet in Royal Canadian Air Force service, political support for the jet is falling. Lockheed Martin’s competitor Boeing is going to be showing off their F/A-18F Super Hornet at this year’s show as well with a company demonstration in addition to the already scheduled US Navy Super Hornet demontration. The corporate demo differs from the Navy’s routine in that the aircraft will perform to the edge of its limits while carrying a payload. The F-35 is sure to be the highlight of the ground portion while the F/A-18F will be the star of the aerial portion.

The Breitling Jet Team will be returning to perform at this year’s show along with the annual appearances by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and CF-18 Hornet demo teams as well as the CFB Comox CH-149 Cormorant Search and Rescue demo. The show will also be welcoming the Jack Link’s Screamin’ Sasquatch Jet Waco biplane and Gary Rower in his Stearman biplane to their first appearances at Abbotsford.

The aircraft, two in total, will arrive at the Abbotsford International Airport on Thursday Aug 11. For more information on the upcoming Abbotsford International Airshow, please visit www.abbotsfordairshow.com.

Phantom Finale: The Last Remaining USAF F-4 Pilot On The End Of A Legend

USAF F-4 Phantom II Afterburner Takeoff

It goes without saying that the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II has had an incredible impact on American aviation, one that carries it into modern aviation legend. One of the most iconic aircraft ever built, nearly everyone involved with aviation and the military has a story relating to the F-4. Unfortunately this American classic is rapidly approaching its final days*, at least in the US.

In April of 1996, the last operational US Air Force/Air National Guard F-4 flight was conducted, marking the end of the Phantom II’s active career. It continued to serve its country as a remotely-piloted target drone, but now even that mission is coming to an end. We met up with likely the last ever USAF F-4 pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Ron “Elvis” King of the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron, Detachment 1, while he was displaying one of the 21 remaining Phantoms at the Spirit of St. Louis Air Show & STEM Expo on May 14-15 2016. Lt. Col. King was kind enough to talk with AirshowStuff about the status of the target drone program, flying the F-4, and his job overseeing the final days of the famed Phantom.

The 82nd ATS uses the QF-4 drones for full-scale aerial targets that test surface and air-to-air missiles, radar technologies, and other counter-air systems. With 21 QF-4s left in the fleet, their numbers will be dwindled down to none by the end of this year. Once the program phases out the QF-4s for the incoming Boeing-modified QF-16 Fighting Falcons, any remaining Phantoms will be de-militarized and trucked out to the bombing range in New Mexico to be used as ground targets. When asked about whether any of the aircraft will be available to museums, Lt. Col. King wasn’t able to specify, but he did mention that the QF-4Es are not a very desirable aircraft to museum collections due to the modifications.

Lt. Col. King is hoping to get the QF-4s out and around to air shows this year while they’re still around, but with only eight available aircraft and four pilots, the 82nd ATS is stretched thin for availability to attend public shows. He is looking at taking the QF-4 to EAA AirVenture, the Reno Air Races, Nellis AFB’s Aviation Nation, and the Sioux Falls Air Show later this year. Testing requirements and availability will be the ultimate determining factors in their attendance.

*The Collings Foundation does own and operate one airworthy F-4 Phantom in the US. Additionally, several foreign countries use them in active service.

For more information, watch the interview above and keep your eyes posted here and on our Facebook page!

Military To Increase Support For Airshows In 2016 (Part 1 – US Navy)

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US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet Demonstration - Vapor Cone

Jet team schedules are not the only exciting news for fans to come out of the annual ICAS convention this week. Representatives from the US Navy and the US Air Force both gave presentations outlining their services plans for supporting airshows in 2016, and there is some very good news for fans eager to see more military involvement. Here are the important details from the Navy; we’ll cover the USAF in detail tomorrow.

US Navy F/A-18C Hornet Demonstration TeamUS Navy Legacy Flight - F4U Corsair, F/A-18F Super Hornet, T-2 Buckeye

F-18 Tactical Demonstrations

Both F/A-18C Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet tactical demonstration teams will be participating in 46 (up from 20 in 2015) airshows in 2016. As in years past, the East Coast team will come from VFA-106 at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The West Coast team will be from VFA-122 at NAS Lemoore in California. The TACDEMO teams are intending to perform only at airshows where the Blue Angels are not performing, in an effort to maximize the visibility of the Navy recruiting efforts. That said, we fully expect the VFA-106 teams to perform alongside the Blue Angels at their home show at Oceana, as they have for years. No word is given on when the TACDEMO schedules can be expected.

Legacy Flights

Not to be forgotten is the previously announced news that the Tailhook Legacy Flights, which pair Navy warbirds with current fighters, will be returning in 2016.

US Navy Leap Frogs Parachute TeamUS Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet Static Display

Leap Frogs

The US Navy Leap Frogs parachute team is also authorized to perform at up to 27 shows this year, although it is unclear if their many High School and sporting event appearances will count against that total. There is no word yet on when their schedule can be expected.

Static Displays

The other major news in the presentation is that restrictions on Navy static displays are being lifted in 2016. Previously they had been severely limited due to the sequestration budget cuts. Only 10 civilian shows were approved for statics in 2015. Happily, static displays will be unrestricted starting with this season!

These are all very exciting developments, and certainly indicate that military participation can be expected to rise in the near future. Let’s hope the good news continues!

Stay tuned for more developments and the performance schedules as we get them.