Air Force Concludes Investigation Into Fatal Crash Of Thunderbird #4, Releases Report

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

US Air Force Thunderbirds - F-16 Fighting Falcon

The US Air Force has released the crash investigation report for April’s fatal crash of Thunderbird #4, Maj. Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno. Cajun was flying a practice routine with the team near Creech AFB in Nevada when his aircraft impacted the ground.

Very little information about the crash has been made public until now, and the remote location ensured there were few if any civilian witnesses. The report does not hold back, however, and describes in great detail how Del Bagno tragically succumbed to G-induced loss of consciousness, or G-LOC, during a high speed dive and failed to recover from it.

Specifically, the dive was part of the rejoin maneuver following the High Bomb Burst and four-ship crossover. Following the cross, the #4 pilot pulls up into a half loop, then flies down the show line inverted before pulling downward into a Split-S to drop into formation behind the lead aircraft. You can watch a video of the typical #4 rejoin sequence on our Youtube channel.

The report explains that on this particular occasion, Del Bagno flew at a maximum of -2.06 Gs while inverted, before immediately pulling to a peak of 8.56 Gs. It is believed that this quick transition from strong negative to intense positive Gs was too much for even the seasoned fighter pilot to handle. He lost consciousness for an estimated 5 seconds as the aircraft rocketed towards the ground. No attempt at ejection was registered by the aircraft systems and the aircraft impacted at nearly 60 degrees nose down and 90 degrees of bank with a descent rate of near 40,000 feet per minute.

Thunderbird #4 Major Stephen Del Bagno

Blue Angel #6, Capt. Jeff “Kooch” Kuss, was also killed while performing a Split-S about two years before Cajun’s accident. In that case, it was determined that he mistakenly initiated the maneuver lower than required. Following his crash, the Blue Angels removed the Split-S from their takeoff routine, although they do perform the maneuver later in the show.

As for the Thunderbirds, they resumed flying a few weeks after the crash, eventually bringing back former #4 pilot Major Nick “Khan” Krajicek to assume the slot position again. Based on observations at shows following the crash, they do not appear to have significantly changed the rejoin maneuver.

Here is the executive summary of the full 37 page report:

On 4 April 2018, the mishap pilot (MP), flying a F-16CM, tail number (T/N) 91-0413, assigned to the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the “Thunderbirds,” 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV), engaged in a routine aerial demonstration training flight at the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) near Creech AFB, NV. During the training flight, at approximately 1029 local time, the mishap aircraft (MA) impacted the ground and fatally injured the MP, without an ejection attempt.

The mishap mission was planned and authorized as a practice of a Thunderbirds aerial demonstration in the south part of the NTTR. The mishap flight was a formation of six F-16CMs (Thunderbirds #1-6), the standard Thunderbirds aerial demonstration flight. Thunderbird #4 was the MA/MP. During the High Bomb Burst Rejoin, an aerial maneuver near the scheduled end of the aerial demonstration training flight, the MP flew the MA for approximately 22 seconds in inverted flight between 5,500 and 5,700 feet above ground level. During this time, the MP experienced a change in force due to acceleration measured in multiples of the acceleration of gravity felt at the earth’s surface (G), between -0.5 to -2.06 G’s. While experiencing -2.06 G’s in inverted flight, the MP initiated a descending half-loop maneuver (Split-S). After five seconds in the Split-S, the MP attained a maximum +8.56 G’s. The MP experienced G-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC) and absolute incapacitation at the end of that five-second period.

For approximately the next five seconds, the MP remained in a state of absolute incapacitation and made no deliberate flight control inputs as the MA accelerated toward the ground. Approximately one second prior to ground impact, the MP began deliberate flight control inputs as he transitioned from absolute to relative incapacitation. The MA impacted the ground at 57 degrees nose low with 89 degrees of left bank and the MP was fatally injured on impact, without an ejection attempt.

The Accident Investigation Board (AIB) President found by a preponderance of evidence the cause of the mishap was the MP’s G-LOC during the Split-S portion of the High Bomb Burst Rejoin maneuver. Additionally, the AIB President found by a preponderance of evidence two factors substantially contributed to the mishap: (a) the MP’s diminished tolerance to +G’s induced by the physiology of the MP’s exposure to –G’s (“Push-Pull Effect”) and (b) an associated decrease in the effectiveness of the MP’s Anti-G straining maneuver under those conditions.

Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, And Snowbirds Combine For Incredible 21-Ship Mass Formation

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 2

US Navy Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, Canadian Forces Snowbirds Joint Formation Flight

In an historic moment, the US Navy Blue Angels, US Air Force Thunderbirds, and Canadian Forces Snowbirds joined together in a massive formation yesterday near Lake Erie. The three teams have crossed paths and flown jointly before, but this is believed to be the first and only time that all 21(!) display aircraft have shared the skies together.

US Navy Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, Canadian Forces Snowbirds Joint Formation FlightUS Navy Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, Canadian Forces Snowbirds Joint Formation Flight

US Navy Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, Canadian Forces Snowbirds Joint Formation Flight

The flight was only possible because all three teams are performing relatively close to each other this Labor Day weekend. The Snowbirds and Thunderbirds are in Toronto, ON for the Canadian International Air Show while the Blue Angels are in Cleveland, OH for the Cleveland National Air Show.

US Navy Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, Canadian Forces Snowbirds Joint Formation Flight

Photographer Glenn Watson captured the joint flight from the rear of the formation and all three teams shared these same photos on their social media pages. Hopefully more photos come out from another angle!

Daily Airshow Schedule For EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018

posted in: Airshows | 1

USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016

The Experimental Aircraft Association has released the daily airshow schedule for EAA AirVenture 2018! Take a look below and see some of the awesome aircraft and performances that will be taking place.

Noteworthy inclusions on the schedule:

  • Monday will feature “FLS Microjet and Cri Cri with Ford vehicle drifting”, an unusual combination that will surely be something not seen before.
  • Tuesday is the premiere of the SureFly octocopter and the Yak-110, a custom-built jet- and prop-powered aircraft made from two Yak-55s.
  • The Wednesday twilight show will feature the B-1B Lancer, which stole the 2017 airshow with its vapor-filled flybys!
  • Thursday is dedicated to “Early Jets”, so it’s safe to assume the warbirds segment will include the Gloster Meteor as well as the Vampire, Venom, and other jet warbirds.
  • Friday will include an Air National Guard flyover by a KC-135 and F-16s, undoubtedly from local Wisconsin units.
  • The Saturday twilight show marks the appearance of the E-4B Nightwatch, a modified 747 that serves as an airborne command post and is very rarely seen at airshows.
  • Sunday will also feature the E-4B, as well as the usual aerobatic performers and demonstrations by both the C-17 Globemaster III and F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Other highlights aren’t specifically called out on the schedule; two Grumman F7F Tiger Cats will be at the show along with an ultra-rare XP-82 Twin Mustang and a newly restored P-51C “Lope’s Hope”. Oshkosh is also expected to be the first appearance of the P-51 Mustang “Moonbeam McSwine” after it was brought back to the US as a tribute to Vlado Lenoch. These will hopefully fly during the various warbird segments.

Keep an eye to our forums for more information as other announcements are made, and join the conversation there to let us know what you’re most looking forward to seeing! Also, make sure to check out our mega-compilation video from AirVenture 2017 at the bottom of this post. It’s four and a half hours of airshow action!

Full EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 Daily Airshow Schedule

Monday, July 23, 2018 – Opening Day, Ford Day

2:30-6 p.m.: Patriot Parachute Team, FLS Microjet and Cri Cri with Ford vehicle drifting, Warbirds of America arrival show, Matt Chapman (Extra 330LX), David Martin (Beechcraft Baron), Jessy Panzer (Pitts Special), seaplane fly-overs, Kyle Franklin (Kitfox S7 Speedster), Luca Bertossio (Swift S1 glider), various RVs, Jerry Kerby (RV-8A Wild Blue), Bill Stein (Edge 540), Matt Younkin (Twin Beech 18), Greg Koontz (Piper Cub), Aeroshell Aerobatic Team (T-6 Texans), Rob Holland (MX2)

8 p.m.: World War I – various WWI aircraft

8 p.m.: Twilight Flight Fest at the Fun Fly Zone – EAA STOL Invitational flying, Paradigm Aerobatic Team, Patriot Parachute Team, 3D RC flying (fixed-wing, helicopter)

8 p.m.: Hot Air Balloon Glow just off Boeing Plaza

Tuesday, July 24, 2018 – Innovations Day, RAF 100th Anniversary, T-6, SNJ, and Harvard 80th Anniversary

2:30-6 p.m.: Patriot Parachute Team, Sean D. Tucker (Oracle Challenger III), Philipp Steinbach (GameBird 1), Workhorse SureFly octocopter, Boeing 757, Jeff Boerboon (Yak-110), Homebuilts Review, Kyle Fowler (Rutan Long-EZ), Warbirds of America show including NATA 80th), Greg Koontz (Super Decathlon), Bob Carlton (SubSonex JSX-2), Manfred Radius (Salto Sailplane), Kyle Franklin (Dracula), 2018 Bill Barber Award Winner Greg Shelton, Royal Air Force 100th anniversary (various RAF aircraft), KC-10 and C-5 arrival

8 p.m.: World War I – various WWI aircraft

8 p.m.: Twilight Flight Fest at the Fun Fly Zone – EAA STOL Invitational flying, Paradigm Aerobatic Team, Patriot Parachute Team, 3D RC flying (fixed-wing, helicopter)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018 – WomenVenture, Skydiving

2:30-6 p.m.: Red Bull Air Force (Edge 540, MBB Bo 105 helicopter, wingsuits), International Skydiving Museum Eagles mass jump, Vicky Benzing (Extra 300L), Jessy Panzer (Pitts Special), Gene Soucy and Teresa Stokes (Grumman Showcat wing walking), Patty Wagstaff (Extra 300LX), Warbirds of America show, Geico Skytypers, Matt Younkin (Twin Beech 18), Jim Peitz (Beech Bonanza), Mike Goulian (Extra 330SC), Patriot Parachute Team/Bill Stein/Rob Holland, Vertical Elite skydivers, KC-135, U.S Air Force Heritage Flight (F-16 and P-51)

8 p.m. (night air show): Patriot Parachute Team, Ford vehicle drifting, International Skydiving Museum Eagles mass jump, B-1B, Red Bull Air Force (Edge 540, MBB Bo 105 helicopter, wingsuits), Paradigm Aerobatic Team (powered paragliders), Aeroshell Aerobatic Team (T-6 Texans), Luca Bertossio (Swift S1 glider), Bob Carlton (SubSonex JSX-2), Vertical Elite skydivers, Gene Soucy (Firecat), Patriot Parachute Team, Matt Younkin (Twin Beech 18), Redline Airshows (RV-8s), fireworks and wall of fire

Thursday, July 26, 2018 – Early Jets

2:30-6 p.m.: Patriot Parachute Team, Falcon Flight (various RVs), Kyle Fowler (Rutan Long-EZ), Jeff Bourbon (Yak-110), Sean D. Tucker (Oracle Challenger III), Vintage Review, Kevin Coleman (Extra 300 SHP), David Martin (Beechcraft Baron), FLS Microjet and Cri Cri with Ford vehicle drifting, Philipp Steinbach (GameBird 1), Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team, Red Bull Air Force (Edge 540, MBB Bo 105 helicopter, wingsuits), Early Jets, Warbirds of America show, U.S Air Force Heritage Flight (F-16 and P-51), U.S. Air Force. C-17 demo

8 p.m.: World War I – various WWI aircraft

8 p.m.: Twilight Flight Fest at the Fun Fly Zone – EAA STOL Invitational flying, Paradigm Aerobatic Team, Red Bull Air Force, Patriot Parachute Demo Team, 3D RC flying (fixed, helicopter)

Friday, July 27, 2018 –Salute to Veterans Day, World War I 100th Anniversary

2:30-6 p.m.: Patriot Parachute Team, KC-135 and F-16 Air National Guard flyover, Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team, Geico Skytypers, Aeroshell Aerobatic Team (T-6 Texans), Trojan Thunder (T-28 Trojans), Warbirds of America show, Patty Wagstaff (Extra 300LX), Red Bull Air Force (Edge 540, MBB Bo 105 helicopter, wingsuits), FLS Microjet and Ford vehicle drifting, Skip Stewart (Prometheus 2), Gene Soucy (Grumman Showcat), Jim Peitz (Beech Bonanza), U.S. Air Force C-17 demo, U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight (F-16 and P-51)

6:05 p.m.: Old Glory Yellow Ribbon Honor Flight Arrival

8 p.m.: World War I – various WWI aircraft

8 p.m.: Twilight Flight Fest at the Fun Fly Zone – EAA STOL Invitational flying, Paradigm Aerobatic Team, Red Bull Air Force, Patriot Parachute Team, 3D RC flying (fixed-wing, helicopter)

Saturday, July 28, 2018 – Year of the Tanker, Air Force Reserve 70th Anniversary

6 a.m.: Hot Air Balloon Launch at the Ultralight Runway

2:30-6 p.m.: Patriot Parachute Team, Mike Goulian (Extra 330SC), Jim Peitz (Beech Bonanza), Yak-110 and Ford vehicle drifting, Red Bull Air Force (Edge 540, MBB Bo 105 helicopter, wingsuits), Geico Skytypers, Warbirds of America show, Class of ’45 with Jim Tobul and Scott Yoak (Corsair and Mustang), Air Force Reserve Command anniversary, U.S. Air Force C-17 demo, Sean D. Tucker (Oracle Challenger III)

8 p.m. (night air show): Patriot Parachute Demo Team, E-4B, U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight (F-16 and P-51), Cri Cri and Ford vehicle drifting, Paradigm Aerobatic Team (powered paragliding), Aeroshell Aerobatic Team (T-6 Texans), Luca Bertossio (Swift S1 glider), Jerry Kerby (RV-8A Wild Blue), Bob Carlton (SubSonex JSX-2), Twin Tigers (Yak-55), Gene Soucy (Firecat), Nate Hammond (de Havilland Chipmunk), Redline Airshows (RV-8), fireworks and wall of fire

Sunday, July 29, 2018

1-4:30 p.m.: Patriot Parachute Team, U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight (F-16 and P-51), Kyle Franklin (Kitfox S7 Speedster), Mike Goulian (Extra 330SC), Kyle Fowler (Rutan Long-EZ), Skip Stewart (Prometheus 2), Trojan Thunder (T-28 Trojans), Rob Holland (MX2), David Martin (Beechcraft Baron), Kevin Coleman (Extra 300 SHP), E-4B, Redline Airshows, Chapman (Extra 330LX), Luca Bertossio (Swift S1 glider), Vicky Benzing (Extra 300L), Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team, Bill Stein (Edge 540), U.S. Air Force C-17 demo, Scott Yoak (P-51 Mustang Quicksilver)

USAF Thunderbirds Cancel Appearance At Wings Over Columbus 2018

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 1

USAF Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon

The USAF Thunderbirds have canceled their planned appearance at the 2018 Wings Over Columbus airshow at Columbus AFB in Mississippi. The move was announced in a video update by Thunderbird #1 following the death of Thunderbird #4, Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, in a crash during practice last week. The team had previously announced they were skipping their performances at the March ARB airshow this past weekend as well as Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, FL next weekend.

It is important to note that while the Thunderbird performances have been canceled, the airshows themselves will be held as originally scheduled. The Air Force’s Air Combat Command has been working to add single-ship demonstrations to affected shows; Sun ‘n Fun recently announced that the F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration team (Viper Demo) will perform there to fill in for the Thunderbirds.

We have updated our 2018 USAF Thunderbirds schedule to reflect the confirmed cancellations, but we expect more appearances to be canceled as part of a safety stand down after the accident. Stay tuned to AirshowStuff for future updates.

Thunderbird #4 Killed In F-16 Crash Near Creech AFB

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

Thunderbird #4 Major Stephen

The US Air Force has released the name of the Thunderbird pilot killed in yesterday’s F-16 crash in Nevada. Thunderbird #4, Major Stephen Del Bagno, was killed in the crash that occurred while the team was practicing their airshow routine near Creech AFB. He was in his first of two seasons with the team, which is based at nearby Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. He had over 3,500 flight hours in both civilian and Air Force aircraft.

Here is Maj. Del Bagno’s full bio from the Thunderbirds’ website:
Maj. Stephen Del Bagno is the Slot Pilot for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, flying the No. 4 jet. He is a 2005 graduate of Utah Valley State University, and commissioned from Officer Training School, Maxwell AFB, Ala. in 2007. Before joining the Air Force, Del Bagno was a civilian flight instructor, corporate pilot, skywriter, and a banner tow pilot. He enjoys snowboarding, water sports and spending time with family and friends. Prior to joining the Thunderbirds, Del Bagno served as an F-35A Evaluator Pilot and Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla. He has logged more than 3,500 total flight hours in over 30 different aircraft, with 1,400 hours as an Air Force pilot. Del Bagno is in his first season with the team and hails from Valencia, Calif.

“We are mourning the loss of Major Del Bagno,” said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander. “He was an integral part of our team and our hearts are heavy with his loss. We ask everyone to provide his family and friends the space to heal during this difficult time.”

Our thoughts are with Maj. Del Bagno’s family and teammates.

This is the first fatal crash for the team since 1982, when the four pilots in the diamond formation were killed after failing to recover from a loop. The famous tragedy became known as the “diamond crash”, and occurred in the same training area as today’s crash.

There have been more recent nonfatal crashes; in 2016 Thunderbird #6 crashed just short of the runway at Peterson AFB in Colorado after the team performed a flyover for the US Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. The pilot ejected safely, and the crash was eventually blamed on a faulty throttle component. The same day, Capt. Jeff Kuss of the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team was killed in a crash while practicing for an airshow in Smyrna, TN.

In 2017, Thunderbird #8 skidded off a soaked runway while landing at the Dayton Airshow in Ohio. The flight was not part of the airshow; it was a “familiarization flight” with a member of the team’s maintenance crew in the back seat. Both pilot and passenger survived, though the pilot was injured.

Please visit our forums for further discussion on the crash and what it means for the airshow season.

Thunderbird F-16 Crashes In Nevada; Pilot Killed

posted in: Jet Teams | 7

US Air Force Thunderbirds - F-16 Fighting Falcon

UPDATE: The name of the pilot has been released.

ORIGINAL POST: An F-16 Fighting Falcon jet belonging to the US Air Force Thunderbirds crashed Wednesday inside the military’s Nevada Test and Training Range outside of Nellis AFB. The pilot of the jet was killed, however, the name has not been released yet pending next of kin notification. We expect to hear the name on Thursday. An investigation is being conducted into the cause of the mishap.

The team was performing an airshow practice routine near Creech AFB in Indian Springs, NV when the crash occurred. The Thunderbirds are based at nearby Nellis AFB, which sits on the outskirts of Las Vegas, NV. They opened their 2018 airshow season just a week and a half ago after canceling a couple of appearances to allow extra training time for their new commanding officer.

This is the first fatal crash for the team since 1982, when the four pilots in the diamond formation were killed after failing to recover from a loop. The famous incident became known as the “diamond crash”, and occurred in the same training area as today’s crash.

There have been more recent nonfatal crashes; in 2016 Thunderbird #6 crashed just short of the runway at Peterson AFB in Colorado after the team performed a flyover for the US Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. The pilot ejected safely, and the crash was eventually blamed on a faulty throttle component. The same day, Capt. Jeff Kuss of the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team was killed in a crash while practicing for an airshow in Smyrna, TN.

In 2017, Thunderbird #8 skidded off a soaked runway while landing at the Dayton Airshow in Ohio. The flight was not part of the airshow; it was a “familiarization flight” with a member of the team’s maintenance crew in the back seat. Both pilot and passenger survived, though the pilot was injured.

There are few details available at this point, but we will update you once the pilot’s name is released. In the mean time, be sure to check our forums for further discussion on the crash and what it means for the airshow season. The team’s participation at the March Air Reserve Base “The March Field Air & Space Expo” has been cancelled.

US Military Answers Internet Demands By Sending Dozens Of Aircraft To Royal International Air Tattoo

posted in: Airshows | 2

US Navy Blue Angels

The United States Air Force announced an unprecedented increase in airshow support today with the unveiling of the Royal International Air Tattoo Supporting Unit Coordination Command Squadron. The Royal International Air Tattoo, better known as RIAT, is a large military-themed airshow held every summer at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England. The new command will arrange demonstrations by all current US Air Force aircraft at the airshow.

The special unit came into being as an answer to international demand in the form of incessant comments left by RIAT supporters on any and every aviation-related internet post since mid-2017. Their sense of entitlement and lack of any sort of moderation impressed Air Force leaders. Unit Commander Colonel (Col.) Walter Haut explains:

“It is our mission to demonstrate US air power to the world, and we intend to do so by sending everything we have to a single airshow that isn’t even on American soil. Every time the Air Force wondered how to best showcase our technological might, we were immediately inundated with comments begging us to ‘come to RIAT.’ While initially shallow and whimsical of an idea to entertain, the frequency of these comments became a decidedly convincing argument that we simply couldn’t say no to any longer.”

RIAT Comments

“We’re excited to fly for the crowd at RIAT,” said Lieutenant William H. Blanchard, 2018 demonstration pilot for the newly re-activated F-15E Strike Eagle Demo Team East. “It means a lot to me to represent the US Air Force; I remember when I was a young child from Nebraska and my parents took me to see the Thunderbirds perform at an airshow in France. It inspired me to join the service and learn to fly – hopefully I can pass that on to a few of the younger Brits in the RIAT crowd to join the US Armed Forces.”

Other branches of the US military are also preparing numerous demonstrations of their own, pulling aircraft from US airshows and even from combat missions to support RIATSUCCS performances. The US Army has postponed a deployment of the 82nd Aviation Regiment’s newest AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to prepare them for the upcoming display.

US Army AH-64 ApacheUSAF F-15E Strike Eagle

The US Navy Blue Angels are also assuming RIAT-related roles, as they will be debuting their new UCAV aircraft at the event. These jets have been a topic of hot discussion since the leak of their transition in 2015, but this will not be the only new technology debuting to an overseas public before the national introduction.

RIATSUCCS Unit Patch

In a Lockheed Martin press conference, a representative was quoted as having said “We fully support and applaud the US military’s efforts to demonstrate abroad. In an act of solidarity, Lockheed will be sending two of their latest prototype aircraft for their official debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo. We will also be sending a fleet of brand new F-35 Lightning IIs to perform a mass-flypast with the Air Force counterparts to open the show.”

In response to this unprecedented move, the Royal Air Force announced plans to reciprocate the USAF’s gesture of friendship by sending a single C-17 transport to an airshow in the US. Unfortunately, the visit was immediately canceled.

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

posted in: Airshows, Schedules | 12

USAF Thunderbird F-16 Fighting Falcon - Aviation Nation Airshow

UPDATE: The show has been confirmed as canceled in 2018.

ORIGINAL POST: 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!

Rare USAF Heritage Flight Formation To Perform Super Bowl LII Flyover

posted in: Flyovers | 1

P-51 Mustang and A-10 Warthogs - USAF Heritage Flight

Keep your eyes to the sky (or more likely, your TV screen) before the kickoff of Super Bowl LII on February 4th – there will be a special US Air Force Heritage Flight flyover for the national anthem! The formation will feature the World War II-era P-51 Mustang “Sierra Sue II” leading two A-10 Warthogs and an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

It’s interesting that any flyover is planned, because the game is being played inside the fully enclosed U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Nevertheless, there will hopefully be sufficient coverage for everyone outside of the stadium to enjoy the flight. The game, between the Patriots and the Eagles, is scheduled to start at 6:30 pm eastern time and will be broadcast on NBC.

Sierra Sue II is a combat veteran P-51 that is owned by the Wings of the North museum, located just outside of Minneapolis in Eden Prairie. Heritage Flight-approved pilot Steve Hinton will be at the controls during the flyover.

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

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 5

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.

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