New USAF Exercise “Mobility Guardian” Exceeds Expectations

posted in: Event Recap, Military | 0

C-17 Globemaster IIIs Joint Base Lewis-McChord Exercise Mobility Guardian 2017

Air Mobility Command has restructured their biennial exercise, formerly known as Air Mobility Rodeo (which last took place in 2011), into a new mission-focused exercise called Mobility Guardian. Originally a competitive event that challenged the best of United States Air Force and international teams in various mission-based competitions, Mobility Guardian has shifted to focus on training up new aircrews to be as versatile as other veteran forces. The event took place from July 31 to August 12, 2017 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, WA.

Fuerza Aérea Colombiana CASA 295 Mobility Guardian 2017Royal Australian Air Force RAAF KC-30 Voyager Tanker Mobility Guardian 2017

Mobility Guardian’s events are setup to be some of the most realistic, real-world, scenario-driven events AMC has undertaken yet. The exercise is designed to allow forces to develop and improve techniques and procedures that enhance air mobility operations and interoperability between US and allied forces. These include training for airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation, and mobility support missions. This becomes especially important given that whether the nation is at war or in peacetime, the mobility units are constantly at work helping either the war effort or humanitarian missions, if not both simultaneously.

Lockheed C-130 Hercules Mobility Guardian 2017

In an article by the 62nd Airlift Wing, Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Mobility Guardian Director Lt. Col. Daniel DeYoung said “Mobility Guardian provides us an opportunity to ‘train like we fight’ alongside our joint and international partners.” “It is a completely new exercise meant to enhance mobility partnerships and test the full spectrum of capabilities Air Mobility Command provides the nation.”

“Whereas Rodeo incentivized units to take their best performers from across the Air Force Specialty Code spectrum—operators, maintainers, medical and support Airmen—and give them extra ‘top-off’ training to prepare for the competition, Mobility Guardian participants will by design be the ‘average’ Airman, who will be tested to employ his or her skills to accomplish the mission laid out in the exercise scenario.”

Fuerza Aérea Colombiana CASA 295 Mobility Guardian 2017Fuerza Aérea Colombiana CASA 295 Medical Litter Mobility Guardian 2017

Numerous nations came to observe and participate in the launch of this new exercise, with a handful bringing their own aircraft. The Royal Canadian Air Force dedicated a pair of their CC-130J Super Hercules’, while the Pāk Fizāʾiyah (Pakistan Air Force/PAF), Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), and Luchtcomponent (Belgian Air Component) flew in their C-130 Hercules aircraft, and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) brought their C-17 Globemaster IIIs and an Airbus KC-30A Voyager. The Royal Air Force (RAF) and Armée de l’air (French Air Force) both brought their latest aircraft, the Airbus A400M Atlas. Participating AMC units flew their C-130s, C-130J-30s, C-17s, KC-10 Extenders, and KC-135 Stratotankers from JBLM.

Pakistan Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules Mobility Guardian 2017Royal Air Force Airbus A400M Atlas Mobility Guardian 2017

Other US military units participated in the aerial refueling training. Those include A-10 Thunderbolt IIs of the 124th Fighter Wing, Gowen Field Air National Guard Base, Idaho; US Navy E/A-18G Growlers of VA-129, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.; F-15C Eagles of the 142nd FW, Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon; F-16C Fighting Falcons and F-35 Lightning IIs assigned to Hill AFB, Utah; F-15E Strike Eagles of Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; and Air Force Global Strike Command B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bombers.

According to Team McChord’s summary article, aircrews flew roughly 1,200 hours in eight days, finishing nearly 650 sorties. Tanker aircraft offloaded roughly 1.2 million pounds of fuel, aerial port personnel processed 3,676 passengers and 4,911 tons of equipment; and crews airdropped 356 paratroopers, 33 heavy platforms and nearly 300 Container Delivery System bundles.

We’d like to thank Air Mobility Command, the 62nd Airlift Wing, and Capt. Jacob Bailey for allowing us to come and tour the exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Heads Up Display (HUD) in the cockpit of Royal Air Force Airbus A400M Atlas Mobility Guardian 2017

Enjoy Nearly Six Hours Of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Action With This Mega-Compilation Video!

That’s right, our annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh mega-compilation video is up, and this year it is nearly six hours long! This video combines all of our ground footage from the show into one long masterpiece, sure to please any aviation fan. The videos are in roughly sequential order, so you start out with the chaos of mass aircraft arrivals on the Sunday before the show. As the week progresses you’ll see more arrivals, portions of the airshow, and then mass departures as everyone reluctantly bids Wittman Regional Airport farewell and heads home.

Airshow performances include the US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration team, the USAF Heritage Flight, the US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet demonstration, the arrival of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, a Martin Mars water drop, the final Oshkosh appearance of USAF F-4 Phantom IIs, flybys from a USAF U-2 Dragon Lady, F-15 Eagle, and A-10 Warthogs, massive warbird formations and exciting flybys, the Tora! Tora! Tora! Pearl Harbor reenactment, the arrival and departure of a massive C-5M Super Galaxy, the Oshkosh seaplane base on Lake Winnebago, a maximum performance departure of the Cathay-Pacific 747-8 freighter “Hong Kong Trader”, and much more!

Find a comfortable chair and settle in to watch the video above! You can also view each video individually, as well as special on-board videos from the show, using our EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016 video playlist. Enjoy!

Mighty F-4 Phantoms To Roar Into EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016

posted in: Airshows, Military | 1

USAF F-4 Phantom II - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Prepare to feel the roar of the Phantom at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016!

AirshowStuff has learned that plans have been finalized for not one but two mighty F-4 Phantoms to appear at the 2016 EAA AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The plan is for both aircraft to fly in from Holloman AFB in New Mexico as a two ship formation. They will arrive Monday and depart on Thursday, with hopefully some flybys each time. Of course plans can always change, so stay tuned to AirshowStuff for any further updates we get.

As we reported in May, this is likely the final year for the F-4 in USAF service. At that time 21 of the QF-4 drone aircraft remained but some have certainly been shot down since. The program will likely come to an end before the calendar hits 2017.

Luckily, there are still a few airshows left where you will hopefully be able to see one of this legendary jets for yourself. Watch our interview with the QF-4 detachment commander and likely final USAF F-4 pilot, “Elvis” King, below to hear more.

USAF Thunderbirds Will Resume 2016 Season At Ocean City

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 3

USAF Thunderbirds

The USAF Thunderbirds will resume their 2016 airshow season this coming weekend (June 18-19) in Ocean City, MD. The team had been on a stand down after the crash of Thunderbird #6 on June 2nd. Pilot Maj. Alex Turner was able to safely eject during the incident. He has not flown with the team yet but is expected to return this week. The rest of the team has resumed practicing at their home of Nellis AFB.

Meanwhile, the US Navy Blue Angels remain on a stand down following the fatal crash of their #6 pilot, Marine Captain Jeff Kuss, on the same day. They have not announced their plans for eventually resuming their show schedule but it is understandable that they would take more time off before returning. The team is expected to resume practicing in Pensacola this week.

Here is the full statement from the Thunderbirds:

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are excited to announce the return to the 2016 demonstration schedule, beginning this weekend in Ocean City, MD.

The Thunderbirds temporarily stood down for two weekends following an aircraft mishap on June 2nd after performing the 2016 U.S. Air Force Academy graduation flyover in Colorado Springs, Colo. During the stand-down, the Team supported the safety investigation to collect details of the mishap.

The Team looks forward to Thunderbird #6, Major Alex Turner, returning to fly early this week.

“His timeline to return to the demonstration will be made as Major Turner gets back into the air. We want to ensure that Alex is physically and mentally ready to go,” said Lt. Col. Chris Hammond, Thunderbird #1, Commander/Leader.

“I have 100% confidence in our Team and our training to go out and perform a safe and exciting demonstration,” said Lt. Col. Hammond. “The Thunderbirds are comprised of 130 incredible professionals who believe in the importance of our mission to represent the world’s greatest Air Force. The team’s resiliency will be on display at the Ocean City airshow; we look forward to performing another safe, precise and exciting demonstration.”

Upon arrival to Ocean City, Lt. Col. Hammond will speak to media outlets during planeside interviews.

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!

USAF Thunderbirds 2016/2017 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 6

USAF Thunderbirds - Opposing Pass

Here is the 2016 airshow schedule for the United States Air Force Thunderbirds! Will you see them in 2016? Let us know! Post on our Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

2016 Appearance Schedule – US Air Force Thunderbirds

Updated 5/25/16 – Latest updates are in bold

Feb. 21: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla. (Flyover)

March 6: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nev. (Flyover)
March 8: Creech Air Force Base Appreciation Show, Las Vegas, Nev.
March 12-13: Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz.
March 19-20: MacDill AFB, Fla.

April 2-3: Luke AFB, Ariz.
April 9-10: Lake City, Fla.
April 16-17: March Air Reserve Base, Calif.
April 23-24: Langley AFB, Va.
April 30 – May 1: Barksdale AFB, La.

May 7-8: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
May 14-15: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
May 21-22: Shaw AFB, S.C.
May 28-29: Cannon AFB, N.M.

June 2: USAF Academy, Colo. (Flyover)
June 4-5: Kirtland AFB, N.M.
June 11-12: North Kingstown, R.I.
June 18-19: Ocean City, Md.
June 25-26: Hill AFB, Utah

July 2-4: Battle Creek, Mich.
July 9-10: Duluth, Minn.
July 16-17: Toledo, Ohio
July 23: Vance AFB, Okla.
July 27: Cheyenne, Wyo.
July 30-31: Offutt AFB, Neb.

Aug. 13-14: Burlington, Vt.
Aug. 17: Atlantic City, N.J.
Aug. 20-21: Chicago, Ill.
Aug. 27-28: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Sept. 3-4: New Windsor, N.Y.
Sept. 10-11: Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Sept. 17-18: Sheppard AFB, Texas
Sept. 24-25: Salinas, Calif.

Oct. 1-2: Robins AFB, Ga.
Oct. 8-9: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Oct 15-16: Ft. Worth, Texas
Oct 22-23: Huntington Beach, Calif.
Oct 29-30: Rome, Ga.

Nov 5-6: Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla.
Nov 12-13: Nellis AFB, Nev.

2017 Appearance Schedule – US Air Force Thunderbirds

The 2017 dates were released on a preliminary basis and some are no longer accurate. Please see the updated schedule that was released more recently: USAF Thunderbirds 2017/2018 Airshow Schedule Released

Photo Albums Uploaded: Rockford Airfest 2015

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

Two 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.

Rockford Airfest 2015 – Patrick Barron

View full photo album: Rockford Airfest 2015 – Patrick Barron
US Navy Blue Angels Wall of Fire - Rockford Airfest 2015

Rockford Airfest 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer

View full photo album: Rockford Airfest 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer
US Navy Blue Angels - Rockford Airfest 2015