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.

F-35 Lightning II Approved For Extra Flybys During 2018 Airshow Performances

posted in: Military | 0

USAF F-35 Lightning II

You’ll see a little bit more of the F-35 Lightning II this airshow season! We took a peek in the 2018 Air Combat Command support manual, and noticed that the F-35 Heritage Flight team is approved for a three-pass “mini-demo” at its performances this year!

NOTE: The F-35 profile will include three non-aerobatic solo passes, most likely before the first HF formation pass, for consistency between HF performances.

This is a bit of a let down for those who followed the rumors that the US Air Force’s F-35 would be upgraded to a full aerobatic demonstration after Lockheed Martin debuted an aerobatic profile at the Paris Airshow last year. However, it shows that the program is getting closer to a full-up demo.

In the mean time, we can look forward to an extra few passes from the jet at each airshow performance. There are no specifics on what the three flybys will be, but such mini-demos in the past have consisted of a photo pass, a high speed pass, and a slow speed/high alpha pass. The F-4 Phantoms flew this profile back when they were a part of the Heritage Flight, and both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon teams did the same prior to being reinstated to full aerobatic status. This year marks the A-10s first year back to an aerobatic profile.

The F-35 was added to the Heritage Flight program in 2016, and it has been limited to HF performances in the two seasons since. The aircraft typically takes off and immediately joins the formation, offering a solo flyby or two after the formation breaks apart. Most recently the F-35 has been performing a high speed pass and a pitch to land following the Heritage Flight. Along with the mini-demo, we could be looking at five solo flybys by the F-35.

USAF Single-Ship Demo Team (F-22/F-16/A-10) 2018 Airshow Schedules Updated

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 0

US Air Force Heritage Flight - F-35 Lightning II, A-10 Warthog, P-51 Mustangs

Air Combat Command, which oversees the US Air Force single-ship demonstration teams, updated the 2018 airshow schedules for the F-22 Raptor, A-10 Warthog, and F-16 Fighting Falcon teams today. Several shows were removed after announcing cancellations, but several new appearances were added as well! Take a look at each schedule below and see if they’ll be performing near you in 2018.

2018 USAF F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team Schedule
2018 USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team Airshow Schedule
2018 USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team Schedule
2018 USAF F-35 Heritage Flight Team Schedule

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!

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 | 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.

USAF F-35 Lightning II Heritage Flight Team 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Military, Schedules | 10

USAF F-35 Lightning II Heritage Flight Team

Here is the 2018 airshow schedule for the US Air Force F-35 Lightning II Heritage Flight Team! 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 F-35 Lightning II Heritage Flight Team

March 17-18: Luke AFB, AZ 
March 23-24: NAS Kingsville, TX

May 25-27: Miami, FL

June 9-10: North Kingston, RI
June 15-17: Ocean City, MD

August 10-12: Offutt AFB, NE
August 17-19: Chicago, IL
August 31-September 2: Toronto, Ontario

Sepember 21-23: Sacramento, CA 

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.

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