Blue Angels Set To Kick Off 2019 Airshow Season This Weekend

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 0

US Navy Blue Angels - AirshowStuff

The 2019 US airshow season will kick into high gear this weekend when the Blue Angels perform at NAF El Centro in California. The team has been at the base for months, flying the 120 practice flights that make up their winter training syllabus.

We visited El Centro last week to get a look at the team, and you can watch one of their full practices below. Unfortunately the winds prevented us from catching the usual jaw dropping low takeoff, but it’s still a rare treat to watch a performance from the end of the runway, on the 1500-foot show line! Listen to the radio comms in the video to hear the wind callouts at various points during the routine.

We have also heard that the team’s famous C-130 Hercules “Fat Albert” has been spotted flying demonstrations in practice, but there is no official word from the team as to her status during the season. Previously, rumors held that they do not plan to fly demonstrations this year as they work to preserve airframe hours until the planned purchase and acquisition of a C-130J from the Royal Air Force is finalized.

Fat Albert performances have been sporadic and rare since 2016, when corrosion issues were discovered that lead to the aircraft being sidelined for a months-long overhaul period. Less than a month after resuming performances in July of 2017, a Marine Corps KC-130 crashed in Louisiana, killing 16. The crash investigation discovered widespread problems with the propellers, and Fat Albert was again grounded, along with the rest of the C-130T fleet.

Bert resumed transportation duties with the team in mid-2018, but did not really perform. Flying the demonstration profile requires a significant investment in training time, so if the crew is flying practice demonstrations now, it seems all but certain that at least a few will be performed in 2019. Of course, they may be extremely limited, rare treats for the home town crowds in El Centro and Pensacola.

For their part, the US Air Force Thunderbirds have been busy with their own winter training as well as several high profile flyovers of the Super Bowl, Daytona 500, and the premiere of the new Captain Marvel movie. The movie is special because it includes a number of tributes to fallen Thunderbird pilot Major Stephen Del Bagno. They open their show season next weekend at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ.

Of course, there are many airshows without jet teams and those are kicking into high gear as well. We attended the MCAS Yuma Airshow last weekend, and the Space Coast Warbird Airshow in Titusville, FL will be taking place this weekend.

Want to know where you can see the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, and other major performers in 2019? Head over to our airshow calendar and search for events near you!

US Air Force Heritage Flights Will Be Longer This Airshow Season

posted in: Airshows, Military, Popular Posts, Warbirds | 0

USAF Heritage Flight - P-38 Lightning and A-10 Thunderbolt II - AirshowStuff

The US Air Force Heritage Flight routine will have a new look in 2019!

Air Combat Command’s single-ship demonstration teams (F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and A-10 Thunderbolt II) and civilian Heritage Flight pilots just wrapped up their annual Heritage Flight Conference practice session at Davis-Monthan AFB. During the conference, they flew dozens of Heritage Flight routines in all sorts of combinations of modern jets and vintage warbirds. As if a new aircraft type being added to the program wasn’t exciting enough, an extended routine was teased on social media, and we can confirm that the flights included more formation flybys than in previous years.

The old routine consisted of three formation passes; the formation would arc in for a right to left photo pass, turn around for a left to right flat pass, then come from behind and over the crowd before splitting apart for individual flybys, affectionately known as “zoomies”. You can see it in the video below.

The new routine has two extra passes; it starts with the same photo pass, but the formation now swings out a little wider and arcs away from the crowd, presenting a belly view of the aircraft. They continue the turn to their left and fly head on to the crowd, passing overhead and then turning around for an original left to right flat pass, with the normal overhead pass, break, and zoomies.

The video below shows the new routine, but from an unusual perspective – across from the crowd and at far show left. Note the exceptional combination of aircraft; a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, North American F-86 Sabre, and a US Air Force F-22 Raptor. Stay tuned for many more videos of the Heritage Flights flown at the conference, and further coverage during the 2019 airshow season!

FIRST LOOK At The New F-35 Lightning II Full Demonstration Profile

posted in: Military, Popular Posts | 2

F-35 Lightning II - AirshowStuff

The US Air Force F-35 Lightning II will be performing aerobatic demonstrations for the first time in 2019, and we’ve got a sneak peak at the new routine for you!

Watch the video below for your first look at the full demonstration profile, including maximum performance loops, rolls, and one particularly eye-catching pedal turn.

This practice demonstration was filmed across from the crowd area – so it’s reversed from the normal perspective – during the 2019 Heritage Flight Conference at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. All of the USAF single-ship demo teams and civilian Heritage Flight pilots attend the HFC to practice the challenging dissimilar formation flying that Heritage Flight performances require.

Stay tuned to our Youtube channel for more footage from the Heritage Flight Conference!

Update: Here’s a second video from the Heritage Flight Conference, showing the full routine from a different angle. This one is pretty far to show left and across from the crowd. It also includes footage of the F-35 flying the new Heritage Flight profile with three P-51 Mustangs!

Hawgsmoke 2016 – A-10 Thunderbolt II Action In The Desert

posted in: Event Recap, Military | 0

A-10 Warthog Strafing Run - Hawgsmoke 2016 - Davis-Monthan AFB

In the hot Arizona desert south of Tucson lies Davis-Monthan AFB, where aircraft and aircrews representing A-10 units stateside and abroad were present to see who would be the best in the biennial Hawgsmoke competition. Hosted by the previous winners, the 47th Fighter Squadron (FS) known as the Termites, the 2016 Hawgsmoke competition centers around A-10 crew camaraderie and aerial precision in gunnery and payload delivery.

Hawgsmoke is an offshoot of the now discontinued Gunsmoke competition the US Air Force (USAF) began in 1949 at Nellis AFB, Nevada and ran until 1995. In 2005, the A-10 community came together for the first Hawgsmoke competition at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center near Alpena, Michigan. Since then, A-10 units have been coming together every two years to grow their bond as an attack community and to earn bragging rights for their squadron.

This year’s participating units flew in aircraft and aircrews to fill up the roster, with nearly all of the world’s A-10 squadrons in attendance. The units that took part in this year’s competition were:

  • AATC Test Squadron of Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona
  • 47th FS of Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona
  • 74th FS of Moody AFB, Georgia
  • 75th FS of Moody AFB, Georgia
  • 107th FS of Selfridge ANGB, Michigan
  • 104th FS of Westfield ANGB, Maryland
  • 303rd FS of Whiteman AFB, Missouri
  • 163rd FS of Fort Wayne ANGB, Indiana
  • 25ft FS of Osan AB, Republic of Korea
  • 76th FS of Moody AFB, Georgia
  • 354th FS of Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona
  • 357th FS of Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona
  • 358th FS of Whiteman AFB, Missouri
Fallen Hawg Ceremony - Hawgsmoke 2016 - Davis-Monthan AFBA-10 Warthog Formation - Hawgsmoke 2016 - Davis-Monthan AFB

Each squadron arrived on June 1st to a warm welcome from the DM personnel and each other. That afternoon, in keeping with Hawgsmoke tradition, the service men and women, friends, and families gathered in front of the parade grounds near a static A-10 to remember fellow Hawg drivers who were lost in and out of the service. Each year the complete list of names is read, sadly with a few new names added from the previous Hawgsmoke. A four-ship of Warthogs perform a missing man at the conclusion of Taps. To end the ceremony, all take part in shooting a small glass of alcohol and breaking the glass in the ceremonial fire pit as a final toast to their lost comrades. With that, the first day of Hawgsmoke is finished asecond the machismo builds in anticipation of the following day’s competition.

At the Barry M. Goldwater Range east of DM, a four-ship of the competing teams is sent in with a payload comprising of MK-76/BDU-33 25-lb. practice bombs, AGM-65 Mavericks, sometimes an LAU-131 rocket launcher with practice rockets, and a belt of 30mm practice rounds. The 30mm practice rounds are designed with an aluminum tip that breaks away in the air after firing, shaping the remaining round like a large, blunt slug to produce a more visible impact for scoring observers. Pilots that came without their own aircraft were able to make use of some of the many A-10s stationed at DM.

The competition consists of a series of bombing runs and strafing passes at various angles and altitudes along with a specialized tactical section. These conventional parts are consistent with each Hawgsmoke competition, while the tactical elements shift each Hawgsmoke, tailored to the desired training pilots are looking for for that particular year. The tactical element is flown in a 10-minutes window where the units must destroy as many targets as they can. This year’s tactical range pitted units against realistic threats templated around a series of targets to better prepare pilots for completing precise missions in hostile situations.

This year’s Hawgsmoke was another success and assuredly plenty of fun for all, but with every contest comes a victor, and for 2016’s Hawgsmoke, the winners were:

45-degree High Altitude Dive Bomb:
1. Capt. David Knighton – 47th FS, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
2. 1st Lt Christopher Shelley – 76th FS, Moody AFB, GA
3. Maj. John “Atlas” Meyers – 25th FS, Osan AB, Republic of Korea

30-degree Dive Bomb Heading and Altitude Reference System, degraded delivery:
1. Capt. Tyler Shipman – 47th FS, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
2. Maj. Jeff Sliwoski – ANG/Air Force Reserve Command Test Center, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
3. Capt. Ryan Yingling – 104th FS, Westfield ANGB, MD

10-degree Low Angle High Drag Pop-up:
1. Capt. Simon Long – 47th FS, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
2. Lt. Col. Alan McCracken – ANG/Air Force Reserve Command Test Center
3. Capt. David Knighton – 47th FS, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ

Long Range Strafe:
1. Lt. Col. John Marks – 303rd FS, Whiteman AFB, MO
2. Capt. Ben Best – 107th FS, Selfridge ANGB, MI

Low Angle Strafe:
1. Capt. Josh Woodard – 354th FS, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
2. Capt. Max Sery – 25th FS, Osan AB, Republic of Korea

Top Conventional Team (Maj. Jeff Watterberg Trophy):
47th FS, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ

Top Tactical Team (Capt. Steve Phillis Trophy):
25th FS, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ

Top Overall Pilot (Lt. Col. Robert Brown Trophy):
Capt. David Knighton – 47th FS, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ

Top Overall Team (Col. Al “Mud” Moore Trophy)
47th FS, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ

Since the Termites dominated the competition once again, a special rule comes into play that prohibits a unit from hosting the event twice in a row. The second place top overall team will be hosting the next Hawgsmoke in 2018. In just a couple short years ahead, the A-10 Thunderbolt II units will meet back again, with some new faces and some familiar ones too, to duke it out in a friendly competition to see who will be the next top Hawg.

We at AirshowStuff would like to thank 2nd Lt. Sydney M. Smith for permitting us to observe the exciting event, the 47th FS for their accommodating hosting of the 8th Hawgsmoke competition, and all of the men and women that have kept this tradition alive and well.