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!

First Female F-16 Demo Team Commander Suddenly Removed From Team

posted in: Military | 10

Capt Zoe Kotnik Climbs into F-16

Less than two weeks after being confirmed as the 2019 USAF F-16 demonstration pilot and leader of the demo team – the first female commander of any single ship ACC demo team – Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik has been removed from the position.

Col. Derek O’Malley, the commander of the 20th Fighter Wing which is located at Shaw AFB in Sumter, SC, removed Kotnik after losing confidence in her ability to lead. His statement was posted the on the team’s Facebook page midday Tuesday, shocking many in the airshow community.

Kotnik’s appointment to the Viper Demo Team was quite popular, with many applauding the choice of a female to lead the team. She was labeled a “real-life Captain Marvel” in reference to the upcoming movie that stars a female Air Force fighter pilot who becomes a superhero. The marketing practically wrote itself and the fanfare of her appointment now shines a huge spotlight on this sudden change.

“It was exciting to have the first female demo team pilot here at Shaw, but I’m also just as excited about the many other females that are serving with great distinction across our Air Force. I’m proud to serve with them, and I’m inspired by them. Even as I speak, another female pilot from the 20th Fighter Wing is flying combat missions in the Middle East,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley’s statement reads extremely similarly to the one issued in 2017 when the leader of the USAF Thunderbirds was also relieved of his position. The key phrase in both cases was “loss of confidence” in the ability to lead.

USAF F-16 Viper Demonstration Team - AirshowStuff

As commander of the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, Kotnik was responsible for leading the 17-member unit whose mission is to inspire the next generation of pilots and maintainers, and to represent the Air Combat Command, United States Air Force, Department of Defense, and the United States of America at more than 20 air shows annually. She also was responsible for overseeing maintenance and conducting the demonstration in the air.

The outgoing demonstration pilot, Maj. John “Rain” Waters, will now stay on to lead the team and fly the demonstrations for at least the 2019 season, which will be his third.

Capt. Kotnik graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2011 and earned her wings in 2013. She has over 1,000 hours in military aircraft.

The team’s first performance in 2019 is scheduled for March 30-31st at Naval Air Station Key West in Florida. At this time, it’s not known how this decision could impact the season.

Here is the full statement from 20th Fighter Wing commander Col. Derek O’Malley:

Viper Demo Team friends and family, please see a message below from the 20th Fighter Wing commander.

I removed Capt. Kotnik from her position as the commander of the Viper Demo team yesterday, because I lost confidence in her ability to lead the team.

I know that loss of confidence is a common response from the Air Force, whenever someone is removed from a command position, and I think it’s important to understand why we take this approach.

We have thousands of Airmen across our Air Force serving our country, and not one of them is perfect. As good people, like Capt. Kotnik make mistakes, I want them to have the opportunity to learn from them without being under public scrutiny, and to continue to be a part of this great service. They’ll be better for the experience, and in turn, we’ll be better as an Air Force.

In these types of situations, I never forget that we’re dealing with real human beings, that I care deeply about, and that we are charged to take care of. This will be a difficult time for Capt. Kotnik, but she’s surrounded by wingmen that will help her every step of the way.

It was exciting to have the first female demo team pilot here at Shaw, but I’m also just as excited about the many other females that are serving with great distinction across our Air Force. I’m proud to serve with them, and I’m inspired by them. Even as I speak, another female pilot from the 20th Fighter Wing is flying combat missions in the Middle East.

Maj. Waters, last season’s Viper Demo pilot has resumed command, so the team is in great hands, and the show will go on. We’re looking forward to another amazing season with this team.

Col. Derek O’Malley
Commander, 20th Fighter Wing

AirshowStuff’s Top Ten Military Videos Of 2018

As our 13th year of airshow coverage comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at another awesome season of aviation and airshows!

Military aircraft are usually the stars of the show, and for good reasons. The speed, power, and sheer noise are captivating, and seeing some of these cutting edge machines is a rare treat for many. Here are ten of our favorite military videos from 2018!

We also have lists of our top ten onboard videos and our top ten warbird videos!

B-1B Afterburner Spiral

If we have one memory from this airshow season, it’s this ridiculous takeoff and climb. An approaching thunderstorm canceled the Wednesday night airshow at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, but this B-1 still had to get home. As the flight line cleared and lightning flashed in the distance, we waited for the Bone’s departure and were not disappointed. Four engines roared in full afterburner for several minutes as the strategic bomber spiraled up from the runway, disappearing into the clouds but continuing to make its presence known by the rumble.

Up Close and Personal with an F-22 Raptor

The most advanced air superiority fighter of the day is a serious piece of hardware, and still sensitive enough to be roped off and guarded everywhere it goes. Luckily, our friends at the Terre Haute Airshow and Tora Tora Tora worked with us to get a very special vantage point on the F-22 Raptor demo – inside the aerobatic box, directly underneath some of its incredible maneuvers!

MV-22 Osprey Sunset Demonstration

The V-22 Osprey is the only production tilt-rotor aircraft in the world, currently in use by the US Air Force and US Marine Corps. This Marine Corps crew showed off the unique capabilities of the aircraft just before sunset at the 2018 America’s Freedom Fest airshow in Goshen, IN.

CF-18 Hornet and T-33 Heritage Flight

The Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet demonstration never disappoints (except when they are forced to run a lighter airshow schedule) and this video captures not only the beautifully painted 2018 demo jet in action, it also includes a special RCAF Heritage Flight with a T-33 painted up as the “Red Knight”.

Aerial Refueling Tankers On Parade

One of the themes for EAA AirVenture 2018 was a celebration of aerial refueling tankers, the often unsung heroes of modern air power. Although multiple tankers flew by during the week, it culminated in this tanker parade during the Saturday airshow.

US Navy Blue Angels With Comms

The US Navy Blue Angels are essentially the face of the military to many Americans, and we were fortunate to film their entire performance at the Terre Haute Airshow with almost no music or narration – just radio calls, jet noise, and awesome flying!

Ukrainian Military Muscle

Our friends at This Is Flight allowed us to share this video of the Ukrainian SU-27 Flanker performing at the 2018 Royal International Air Tattoo, or RIAT. Did you know that two civilian-owned Flankers were brought to the US and test flown before being purchased and taken away by a mysterious buyer?

F-22s Put on a Show

These Raptor drivers knew exactly what the EAA AirVenture crowd wanted; fast flybys, hard pulls, and lots of afterburner! Even when they were asked to hold, they made a point to “play” in sight of the crowd and showcased the incredible maneuverability of the aircraft.

“Dark Falcon” F-16 Demonstration

Another video that comes from our friends at This Is Flight; this one showcases the spectacular “Dark Falcon” paint scheme on the Belgian Air Force F-16 Display Team. This is maybe one of the most beautiful F-16s to ever exist!

C-17: The Massive Yet Nimble Airlifter

We have to show a little love to a bigger military aircraft, the C-17 Globemaster III. This nimble airlifter can maneuver in ways you wouldn’t think possible, and stop in incredibly short distances. It showcased these abilities at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.

Remember to subscribe to our Youtube channel for even more military videos – we’re adding more all the time!

UPDATED: Royal Jordanian Falcons Planning North American Tour In 2019 Or 2020

posted in: Aerobatics | 1

Royal Jordanian Falcons

UPDATE: We contacted the team directly to ask about any tour, and sadly they have decided to postpone their plans until 2019 or 2020 due to various unnamed challenges. Thanks to Jim Reith for helping confirm the news! Stay tuned here and on our forums for info!

ORIGINAL POST: The Royal Jordanian Falcons, the national demonstration team of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, appears to be planning a North American tour during the 2018 airshow season.

While not much information is known at this moment, the California International Airshow in Salinas, California has announced that the team, which flies four Extra 300LX aircraft, will be one of their headliners. While the show dates for Salinas are in late September, there is the possibility the team may arrive in the spring and tour throughout the summer.

The team was also present at the International Council of Air Shows convention in Las Vegas in December, presumably to meet with prospective shows.

The team switched to the new Extra 300LXs for the 2018 season, sporting a brand new color scheme.

Photos Courtesy of the Royal Jordanian Falcons. Stay tuned to AirshowStuff for updates on this possible tour, and share your thoughts in our forums!

Royal Jordanian Falcons

Trojan Horsemen Formation Team Announces Retirement

posted in: Warbirds | 1

Trojan Horsemen T-28 Formation Team

The Trojan Horsemen formation team has announced their retirement from airshows. In a post to the team’s Facebook page, they explained that the challenges had simply become too much to continue.

The team performed at airshows and other events with up to six North American T-28 Trojans in formation. Although the team will be missed, it seems likely that most team members will continue performing in some capacity.

Read the full statement posted by the team below:

After 14 years of traveling the country and Performing for millions of Aviation fans we sadly announce our retirement.

The mounting challenges of reliably fielding a six-ship Team of T-28’s in a professional manner while maintaining proficiency, safety and our brand , have forced the premature retirement of the team.

We would like to thank all the airshow producers who honored us by allowing us to perform at your show, as well as our fans and friends in the air show community.

We sincerely hope that our patriotic message successfully touched your lives and made a positive difference. We have enjoyed every minute of sharing our historic aircraft with you.

US Navy Blue Angels Announce New 2017 Officers

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

US Navy Blue Angels

The US Navy Blue Angels have announced the officers that will be joining the team for the 2017 show season. These outstanding individuals were selected after a rigorous process and we want to congratulate them on their new status! They will join the returning members of the team, including the “Boss”, Blue Angel #1 Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi.

All photos courtesy of the US Navy Blue Angels Facebook page.

F/A-18 Hornet Demonstration Pilots

Lt. Brandon Hempler - US Navy Blue Angels
Navy Lt. Brandon Hempler, 32, of Wamego, Kansas, is an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot currently assigned to Training Squadron TWO-TWO (VT-22), the “Golden Eagles,” at NAS Kingsville, Texas. He is a 2007 graduate of Kansas State University, Salina, Kansas.

Lt. Damon Kroes - US Navy Blue Angels
Navy Lt. Damon Kroes, 34, of Fremont, California, is an F/A-18 Hornet Instructor Pilot currently assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101), the “Sharpshooters,” at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. He is a 2006 graduate of San Diego State University, San Diego.

Lt. Nate Scott - US Navy Blue Angels
Navy Lt. Nate Scott, 31, of Danville, California, is an F/A-18 Hornet Instructor Pilot currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron ONE ZERO SIX (VFA-106), the “Gladiators,” at NAS Oceana, Virginia. He is a 2007 graduate of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Events Coordinator

Lt. Dave Steppe - US Navy Blue Angels
Navy Lt. Dave Steppe, 31, of Birmingham, Alabama, is an EA-18G Growler Naval Flight Officer currently assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron ONE TWO NINE (VAQ-129), the “Vikings,” at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. He is a 2008 graduate of Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

C-130 “Fat Albert” Demonstration Pilot

Capt. Kyle Maschner - US Navy Blue Angels
Marine Capt. Kyle Maschner, 33, of Scottsdale, Arizona, is a KC-130 Hercules pilot currently assigned to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa, Japan. He is a 2006 graduate of Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona.

Flight Surgeon

Lt. Juan Guerra - US Navy Blue Angels
Navy Lt. Juan Guerra, 31, of Ocala, Florida, is a Flight Surgeon currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron ONE ZERO SIX (VFA-106), the “Gladiators,” at NAS Oceana, Virginia. He is a 2011 graduate of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences School of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland.

Supply Officer

Lt. Bryan Pace - US Navy Blue Angels
Navy Lt. Bryan Pace, 32, of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, is a Supply Officer currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101), the “Grim Reapers,” at Eglin AFB, Florida. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Administration Officer

Lt. j.g. Timothy Hawkins - US Navy Blue Angels
Navy Lt. j.g. Timothy Hawkins, 37, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, is an Administrative Officer currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron ONE FOUR THREE (VFA-143), the “Pukin’ Dogs,” at NAS Oceana, Virginia. He was commissioned through the Limited Duty Officer Program in 2013.

Photo Albums Uploaded: Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015 and US Army Golden Knights Media Flight

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

Three new photo albums have gone up in our photo gallery! Check out a preview of each below and then be sure to follow the links to view the full albums.

Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015 – Patrick Barron

View full photo album: Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015 – Patrick Barron
Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015 - Patrick Barron

Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer

View full photo album: Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer
Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015 - Ryan Sundheimer

Golden Knights Media Flight – Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015 – Patrick Barron

View full photo album: Golden Knights Media Flight – Vectren Dayton Airshow 2015 – Patrick Barron
US Army Golden Knights

Canadian Snowbirds And CF-18 Hornet Spring Practice/Air To Air Photos

posted in: Jet Teams, Military, Popular Posts | 0

Canadian Forces Snowbirds - Air to Air Over British Columbia

For the past few weeks, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and CF-18 Hornet demo teams have been ripping up the skies over Comox, BC, practicing their routines for the upcoming air show season, now just around the bend. We were lucky enough to participate in observing their practices and operations last week, and even a unique air-to-air photo op!

View all of the photos from Comox in our photo gallery: Canadian Snowbirds/CF-18 Hornet Air to Air and Comox Practice

Winter training takes part at CFB Comox on Vancouver Island as the base offers both teams the chance to practice over land and water with the Strait of Georgia just beyond the base perimeter. To the east are the majestic peaks of the Beaufort Range offering additional practice opportunities. While at Comox, both teams will fly at least once nearly every day, rain or shine. The wind and rain were heavy during last Thursday’s practice and both teams went out; the Snowbirds over Air Force Beach and the CF-18 over the base, both performing low shows.

2015 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Practice - Comox, BC Canadian Snowbirds Practice - Air Force Beach, BC

Both teams have maneuvers to perfect in their routine. Thorough debriefs follow each practice, where the team reviews their entire performance and critiques each maneuver to correct mistakes, some not even visible to observers on the ground. Each member of the Snowbirds is tasked with progress reports during the debrief to pass along any improvements or struggles they have had since the last practice. Flying the routines is only one element of the practice for the team. Simulator training also occurs, practicing taxi maneuvers and close proximity parking to perfect the ground performance as well. These practices develop the team into the fantastic performers we love to see each season.

Canadian Snowbirds Practice - Double Take - Air Force Beach, BC Canadian Snowbirds Practice - Opposing Pass- Air Force Beach, BC

This year, the Snowbirds are changing things up a bit. For shows with adequate runway length and fair weather, the team will depart in a 5 jet/4 jet formation takeoff, as opposed to their traditional 3/3/3 formation. You’ll also notice some new maneuvers such as the Card Nine and the Double-Take (as seen above) inserted into their performance this year.

2015 CF-18 Hornet Demo Team Battle of Britain Scheme - Air to Air Over British Columbia 2015 CF-18 Hornet Demo Team Battle of Britain Scheme - Air to Air Over British Columbia

As we reported previously, this year’s CF-18 demonstration aircraft is wearing a gorgeous camouflage scheme honoring the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. But you may not have known that there’s quite an interesting history behind the paint scheme chosen to adorn this year’s Hornet. The scheme matches that of a Hawker Hurricane Mk. I belonging to No. 1 Fighter Squadron RCAF, later renamed 401 Fighter Squadron, piloted by F/L Gordon R. MacGregor. From Jim Belliveau, the graphic artist who designed and painted the aircraft:

“The serial identifier used of YO-H was not only piloted by MacGregor… it was the first RCAF aircraft to score a confirmed kill in the battle.

I could go on in detail about the rationale behind the two murals, but the decision to feature the iconic pics of St. Paul and the London dockyards is rather subjective, and you may not want to… go there.

In my mind the St. Paul mural depicts the ultimate hope that good will always triumph over evil. And as to the dockyards, both that industrial area of London, and collaterally the working class who lived there, took a disproportionate amount of the bombing campaign in the war. It is my small tribute to those wonderful East Enders who were the quiet unsung heroes of the battle.”

Canadian Snowbirds Practice - Maple Split - Air Force Beach, BCCanadian Snowbirds Practice - Lag Back Cross - Air Force Beach, BC

The practices at Comox are not only an opportunity for the teams to practice their flights, it is also one of the first opportunities for the public to get a glimpse of the team. The people of Comox and Courtney, BC flock to the shores of Air Force Beach for a free air show that truly looks amazing. The Cascades on the mainland just across the water offer a spectacular scenic backdrop and the lighting in the afternoon is excellent.

CFB Comox operations continue as normal during these practice weeks. The base is home to RCAF 19 Wing consisting of 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron, one of only two squadrons that operate CP-140 Auroras, and 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, operating the CC-115 Buffalo and CH-149 Cormorant. Search and rescue operations and regular missions along the coastline of British Columbia carry on while hosting the teams. Comox also serves as a forward operations base for CF-18 Hornets deployed to the region.

CF-18 Hornet Demo Team Battle of Britain Scheme - Air to Air Over British ColumbiaCanadian Forces Snowbirds - Air to Air Over British Columbia

On April 28, the teams flew their acceptance shows over Comox and on the 29th they headed back to their bases to prepare for their upcoming first shows. The CF-18 will quickly be heading south to Chino, CA for the Planes of Fame air show this weekend (May 1-2) while the Snowbirds will be heading to Dallas, GA with the CF-18 for the Salute America Airshow on May 9-10. Be sure to check the CF-18 and Snowbird schedules to find out where you can see them perform this year!

Special thanks to: Lt. Patricia Brunelle and Lt. Mathew Strong for the help in covering their team’s practices, 442 squadron for the CC-115 ride and photo ship, and the Canadian Armed Forces for letting this Yank visit.

2015 USAF F-22 Raptor Demonstration Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 3

F-22 Raptor

The much-anticipated schedule for the United States Air Force’s F-22 Raptor demo was just released by Air Combat Command. Check your calendars and put in your time-off requests now, because here is where you can find the Raptor flying this year:

Mar 21-22 – Melbourne, FL
Mar 28-29 – Tuscaloosa, AL
Apr 11-12 – Tyndall AFB, FL
Apr 18-19 – NAS Corpus Christi, TX
May 2-3 – Chino, CA
May 16-17 – Westover ARB, MA
Jun 5-7 – Rockford, IL
Jun 13-14 – Ocean City, MD
Jul 4-5 – Battle Creek, MI
Jul 22-26 – Oshkosh, WI (Heritage Flight Only)
Jul 25-26 – Milwaukee, WI
Aug 1-2 – Seattle, WA
Aug 8-9 – Abbotsford, BC Canada
Aug 29-30 – Brooklyn, NY
Sept 2 – Atlantic City, NJ
Sept 5-6 – Brunswick, ME
Sept 12-13 – Ft Worth, TX
Sept 19 – JB Andrews, MD (Air Force Birthday & WWII Anniversary)
Sept 26-27 – Salinas, CA
Oct 3-4 – Rome, GA
Oct 20-25 – Seoul, Korea