Thunderbirds Are Go For 2018 Daytona 500 Flyover

posted in: Flyovers, Jet Teams | 2

US Air Force Thunderbirds

The US Air Force Thunderbirds are set to perform the flyover for NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Florida this Sunday. This will be the team’s first public performance with their new leader, Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh.

The race will be broadcast on FOX at 2:30 PM Eastern time on Sunday, February 18th. Fans near Daytona Beach will likely see the jets flying around earlier in the weekend as well, as they practice (9-10am on Saturday) and take VIPs for media flights.

Flying over the race is somewhat of a tradition for the Thunderbirds, who use the trip as a warm up for their intense travel schedule during the regular airshow season. The team’s first full airshow performance is scheduled for March 24 and 25 in Melbourne, FL.

Has The 2018 Aviation Nation Airshow At Nellis AFB Been Cancelled?

posted in: Airshows, Schedules | 5

USAF Thunderbird F-16 Fighting Falcon - Aviation Nation Airshow

Rumors are swirling that the 2018 Aviation Nation airshow at Nellis AFB has been canceled after it was removed from both the ICAS and USAF Thunderbird 2018 airshow schedules. The show was previously scheduled for November 10-11 on both.

This is a stunning development for one of the best military airshows in the country. Nellis is the home base of the Thunderbirds, and serves as the home town end to their season each year. The show previously canceled in 2015, but that was due to runway construction. This may be the beginning of a move to hold the show every two years instead of annually. Another interesting note is that the Thunderbirds’ 2019 schedule now has Nellis scheduled one week later than originally planned.

We are working to confirm this news, and will provide any further information we get. In the mean time, join the discussion and add your own info on our forums!

Florida’s Melbourne Air And Space Show Changes 2018 Dates, Retains Thunderbirds As Headliner

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 4

USAF Thunderbirds - Opposing Pass

The Melbourne Air and Space Show announced today that they have changed dates from March 17-18 to March 24-25. Organizers say that they decided to change dates in order to keep the US Air Force Thunderbirds as headliners.

The move is not entirely unexpected, as the two other airshows that originally planned to have the Thunderbirds in March also went on to change their plans.

First, Wings Over Atlanta at Dobbins ARB in Georgia canceled their March 24-25 show citing financial reasons. Then, the Luke Days airshow at Luke AFB in Arizona changed dates from March 10-11 to March 17-18 and picked up a commitment from the US Navy Blue Angels to replace the Thunderbirds as the headlining act.

This left Melbourne as the sole March appearance by the Thunderbirds, with an open weekend before and after. Now that they have slipped back to the original Wings Over Atlanta dates, they represent the first airshow of the Thunderbirds’ 2018 season.

All of this schedule churn is extremely unusual, but likely a result of the equally unusual dismissal and replacement of former Thunderbird #1, Lt. Col. Jason Heard after the 2017 season. The new Thunderbird #1, Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, had not previously flown the demonstration and it is not surprising that he would require extra practice time to learn the profile. In fact, we speculated that this might end up happening at the time of the announcement. These schedule moves give the team an extra two weeks of training time, and by reconfirming their Melbourne appearance for March 24th, they seem confident that it will be enough.

Luke Days 2018 Airshow Changes Dates; Secures New Jet Team

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 8

US Navy Blue Angels

Luke Air Force Base confirmed today that their 2018 airshow will be getting not only new dates, but a new headliner as well. The Luke Days 2018 event will now be held on March 17-18 instead of March 10-11.

The new dates were necessary in order to secure the US Navy Blue Angels as the main attraction. It will be their first time appearing at Luke since 1992, and fills a previously open weekend on their schedule. Base Public Affairs has told us that the rest of the lineup will remain the same.

The US Air Force Thunderbirds display team was scheduled to perform on the original dates, but they are currently scheduled to be in Melbourne, FL on the 17th and 18th and will not be able to perform at Luke. However, this news only adds to rumors that the team will be extending their winter training period in order to train up the new #1 pilot.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh took over as Thunderbird #1 in December following the surprise dismissal of the previous squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jason Heard. Although Walsh served as Thunderbird #7 for two years before being placed in charge of the squadron, he came into the role with no experience flying the demonstration. At the time, we speculated that the sudden change in lead pilot could mandate additional training time.

The move by Luke to cancel on the Thunderbirds is an extremely unusual one, and the simplest explanation is that the Thunderbirds notified Luke that their planned appearance was either in question or written off altogether. This makes even more sense since the Wings Over Atlanta airshow at Dobbins AFB in Georgia, another March show that expected to host the Thunderbirds, announced their cancelation earlier this month. The uncertainty of a jet team appearance could certainly lead to the financial concerns that they cited as the cause.

Ultimately this is all speculation at this point, as there has been no official announcement made regarding the Thunderbirds changing their schedule; everything has come from the shows themselves. The Melbourne Air and Space Show is now the only remaining March appearance for the Thunderbirds, so it will be telling whether they make any announcements regarding the team.

As always, we welcome your own thoughts and comments on this topic in our forums, where you can also see the remainder of the USAF Thunderbirds 2018 schedule as well as the 2018 airshow schedule for the US Navy Blue Angels!

Wings Over Atlanta 2018 Airshow At Dobbins ARB Canceled

posted in: Airshows, Schedules | 2

Wings Over Atlanta Air and Space Expo Logo

The planned 2018 Wings Over Atlanta Air and Space Expo has been canceled. The announcement was posted on the base’s Facebook page earlier today. The airshow was scheduled to be held on March 24th and 25th at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia, with the US Air Force Thunderbirds as the headlining performance.

As with most cancellations, money is cited as the main cause. Organizers say that due to “fiscal constraints”, they cannot provide a world-class show and they have decided to postpone the event to a future airshow season.

This now leaves the Thunderbirds with a free weekend in March, which they may leave open or fill with another performance elsewhere. We’ll update their 2018 schedule in our forums with whatever changes come!

Here is the full text of the Facebook post announcing the news:

CANCELED: The 2018 Wings Over Atlanta Air and Space Expo, scheduled for March 24-25 at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, has been canceled.

Due to fiscal constraints, we are unable to provide the community with a world-class air and space expo at this time. It was in the best interest of our community, event partners and Reserve Citizen Airmen to postpone this year’s event to a future airshow season.

“We truly regret to cancel the Wings Over Atlanta Air & Space Expo planned for this March,” said Brig. Gen Richard Kemble, 94th Airlift Wing commander. “The steadfast support we receive from our community is one of our greatest assets and we look forward to the opportunity to bring a premier airshow back to Dobbins in the coming years.”

USAF Thunderbirds Announce New Commanding Officer For 2018 Season

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

US Air Force Thunderbirds

The US Air Force Thunderbirds have a new commanding officer! The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Holmes, has selected Lt. Col. Kevin “Lowen” Walsh to lead the team in 2018. Lt. Col. Walsh was already serving as the interim CO of the famed demonstration squadron following the unexpected dismissal of the previous team leader, Lt. Col. Jason Heard late last month.

USAF Thunderbirds - Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh

Walsh served as Thunderbird #7, the team’s Operations Officer, during the 2016 and 2017 seasons and was due to leave the team this winter as his tour concluded. He will now take over the second year of Lt. Col. Heard’s planned two year tour before a new “Boss” is selected in 2019.

We welcome Lt. Col. Walsh (back) to the team and look forward to seeing him fly in 2018!

Here is the full text of the Air Force press release:

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Holmes, has officially selected the officer who will lead the United States Air Force Thunderbirds for the 2018 demonstration season.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh will become Thunderbird No. 1, the squadron’s commander and lead pilot. As the twofold duty title implies, his responsibilities will include commanding a force of more than 130 enlisted personnel and 11 commissioned officers assigned to the Thunderbirds, along with leading all demonstration flights.

Walsh, a 2002 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., just completed his second season with the team as Thunderbird No. 7, the squadron’s Operations Officer.

“Kevin’s extensive flying experience and rapport within the Thunderbirds makes him a perfect fit to command the team,” said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander. “I have full faith he will lead the team through a successful 2018 show season.”

Walsh is a graduate of the USAF Weapons School and has logged over 2,600 hours of flight time with more than 500 hours of combat pilot experience.

2018 will mark the Thunderbirds’ 65th season as the Air Force’s premier jet demonstration team, entrusted with the vital mission to recruit, retain and inspire across the nation while representing the outstanding men and women serving in the United States Air Force around the world.

USAF Thunderbirds 2019 Preliminary Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Jet Teams, Schedules | 2

US Air Force Thunderbirds

Here is the preliminary 2019 airshow schedule for the US Air Force Thunderbirds! This schedule has been released on a preliminary basis only, and will likely see notable changes. Please make sure to check back with us in December of 2018 when an updated 2019 schedule is released!

Preliminary 2019 Appearance Schedule – US Air Force Thunderbirds

March 23-24: Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona – Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
March 30-31: Gulf Coast Salute Air Show – Tyndall AFB, FL

April 6-7: Heart of Texas Air Show – Waco, TX
April 13-14: Salute to the Military Air Show – Biloxi, MS
April 27-28: Wings over Wayne Open House – Seymour Johnson AFB, NC

May 4-5: Wings over Myrtle Beach – Myrtle Beach, SC
May 11-12: JB Andrews Air Show – JB Andrews, MD
May 18: Kirtland AFB Air Show – Kirtland AFB, NM
May 22: USAFA Graduation Flyover – Colorado Springs, CO
May 25-26: Jones Beach Air Show – Jones Beach, NY

June 1-2: Defenders of Freedom Air Show – Offutt AFB, NE
June 15-16: Minnesota Air Spectacular – Mankato, MN
June 22-23: Dayton Air Show – Dayton, OH
June 29-30: Fort Wayne Air Show – Fort Wayne, IN

July 6-7: Rhode Island Air Show – North Kingstown, RI
July 13-14: Open
July 20-21: Fargo Air Show – Fargo, ND
July 24: Cheyenne Frontier Days – Cheyenne, WY
July 27-28: Milwaukee Air and Water Show – Milwaukee, WI

August 10-11: Abbotsford International Air Show – Abbotsford, BC
August 17-18: Sioux Falls Air Show – Sioux Falls, SD
August 21: Atlantic City Air Show – Atlantic City, NJ
August 24-25: Rochester International Airshow – Rochester, NY
August 31-September 2: Cleveland National Air Show – Cleveland, OH

September 7-8: Grissom Air Reserve Base Air Show – Grissom ARB, IN
September 14-15: National Championship Air Races – Reno, NV
September 21-22: Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show – NAS Oceana, VA
September 28-29: Robins AFB Air Show – Robins AFB, GA

October 5-6: Puerto Rico International Air Show – San Juan, PR
October 12-13: Atlanta Air Show – Hampton, GA
October 19-20: Wings over Houston Air Show – Houston, TX
October 26-27: Sheppard AFB Air Show – Sheppard AFB, TX

November 2-3: Florida International Air Show – Punta Gorda, FL
November 9-10: Aviation Nation – Nellis AFB, NV

Again, this schedule is for 2019. If you’re looking for 2018 airshow appearances, check out USAF Thunderbirds 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

USAF Thunderbirds 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Jet Teams, Schedules | 18

US Air Force Thunderbirds

Here is the 2018 airshow schedule for the US Air Force Thunderbirds! Will you see them in 2018? 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 – for the latest updates please be sure to check our forums!

2018 Appearance Schedule – US Air Force Thunderbirds

March 10-11: OPEN (Likely extra training)
March 17-18: OPEN (Likely extra training)
March 24-25: Melbourne Air & Space Show – Melbourne, FL

April 7-8: March Field Air & Space Expo – March ARB, CA
April 14-15: Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In & Expo – Lakeland, FL
April 21-22: Wings Over Columbus – Columbus AFB, MS
April 28: Charleston Air Expo – JB Charleston, SC

May 5-6: Fort Lauderdale Air Show – Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 12-13: Laughlin AFB Open House – Laughlin AFB, TX
May 19-20: AirPower Over Hampton Roads – Langley AFB, VA
May 23: U.S. Air Force Academy Graduation – Colorado Springs, CO
May 26-27: Cannon AFB Air Show – Cannon AFB, NM

June 2-3: Gunfighter Skies Air Show – Mountain Home AFB, ID
June 9-10: Thunder Of Niagara Airshow – Niagara Falls, NY
June 16-17: OC Air Show – Ocean City, MD
June 23-24: The Utah Air Show – Hill AFB, UT
June 30-July 1: Arctic Thunder Air Show – Elmendorf AFB, AK

July 7-8: Duluth Air and Aviation Expo – Duluth, MN
July 14-15: The Great New England Air Show – Westover ARB, MA
July 21-22: Milwaukee Air & Water Show – Milwaukee, WI
July 25: Cheyenne Frontier Days – Cheyenne, WY
July 28-29: Westmoreland County Air Show – Latrobe, PA

August 4-5: Minot AFB Air Show – Minot, ND
August 18-19: 60th Chicago Air & Water Show – Chicago, IL
August 22: Thunder Over the Boardwalk – Atlantic City, NJ
August 25-26: Thunder Over Michigan – Ypsilanti, MI

September 1-2: Canadian International Air Show – Toronto, ON
September 8-9: McConnell AFB Open House – McConnell AFB, KS
September 15-16: New York Air Show – New Windsor, NY
September 22-23: California Capital Air Show – Sacramento, CA
September 29-30: California International Air Show – Salinas, CA

October 6-7: Maryland Fleet Week & Air Show – Baltimore, MD
October 13-14: Fort Worth Alliance Air Show – Fort Worth, TX
October 20-21: Breitling Huntington Beach Air Show – Huntington Beach, CA
October 27-28: Thunder Over the Rock – Little Rock AFB, AR

November 3-4: Wings Over Homestead – Homestead ARB, FL
November 10-11: Aviation Nation – Nellis AFB, NV

Want to look a little further ahead? We also have a copy of the preliminary 2019 US Air Force Thunderbirds schedule!

Thunderbird #1 Relieved Of Command After Loss Of Confidence

posted in: Jet Teams | 2

USAF Thunderbirds in Formation

Thunderbird #1, Lt. Col. Jason Heard, was relieved of command earlier this month. The stunning news was announced today by The US Air Force’s Air Combat Command. Heard had served as the commander and flight leader of the famous USAF Thunderbirds demonstration team since taking over the role around one year ago. He lead the team’s performances at each of their 2017 appearances across North America and Europe and was due for one more season with the team.

The reasoning behind the move is quite eye-opening. According to the press release, Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt “Lost confidence in his leadership and risk management style”. Leavitt is the 57th wing commander and the one who relieved Heard. “This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one that is ultimately in the best interests of the Thunderbird team. I am personally grateful for Jason’s dedication to the 2017 season,” Leavitt said.

Thunderbird #1 Lt. Col. Jason Heard

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, the Thunderbird’s 2016-2017 Operations Officer, has temporarily assumed responsibility of the team until a new commander is selected.

The timing of the move is interesting. The decision was made effective November 20th, just a week after the team concluded their 2017 airshow season with the home town Aviation Nation airshow at Nellis AFB, but it was not announced until today.

Representatives from the team are currently preparing for the annual International Council of Airshows convention next week, where the team’s schedule release is always a main event. It remains to be seen how the change in leadership might alter the winter training schedule and planned 2018 performances.

Stay tuned to AirshowStuff as we cover not only the fallout from this story, but the planned release of the jet team schedules next week!

Here is the full text of the Air Force’s press release on the matter:

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander, relieved Lt. Col. Jason Heard of command of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron upon the completion of the 2017 season effective Nov. 20, 2017.

While Heard led the team through a highly successful show season, Leavitt lost confidence in his leadership and risk management style.

Leavitt determined that new leadership was necessary to ensure the highest levels of pride, precision and professionalism within the team.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one that is ultimately in the best interests of the Thunderbird team. I am personally grateful for Jason’s dedication to the 2017 season,” Leavitt said.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, the Thunderbird’s 2016-2017 Operations Officer, has temporarily assumed responsibility of the team until a new commander is selected.

The Thunderbirds are preparing for the 2018 season, training their new pilots, and look forward to inspiring crowds around the country.

New Photo Album – Cleveland National Airshow 2017

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 1

USAF Thunderbirds - Cleveland National Airshow 2017

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here:
Cleveland National Airshow 2017 – Ryan Sundheimer

Also be sure to check out our videos from the show on our Youtube playlist:

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