Vucano Market - US Navy Blue Angels Towels (Officially Licensed)
Vucano Market - US Navy Blue Angels Towels (Officially Licensed)

USAF Thunderbirds Announce New Commanding Officer For 2018 Season

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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

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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 A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

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USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team

Here is the 2018 airshow schedule for the US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team! This is the first year for an aerobatic A-10 demonstration since sequestration. 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!

All demos unless stated otherwise include a USAF Heritage Flight.

2018 Appearance Schedule – US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team

March 10-11: Luke Days – Luke AFB, AZ

April 7-8: Heart of Texas Airshow – Waco, TX
April 14-15: Tuscaloosa Regional Airshow – Tuscaloosa, AL
April 21: Thunder Over Louisville, Louisville, KY

May 5-6: Planes of Fame Airshow – Chino, CA
May 12-13: MacDill Airfest – MacDill AFB, FL
May 19-20 – Anderson Regional Airshow – Anderson, SC
May 26-28: Salute to Veterans Celebration – Columbia, MO

June 2-3: Gunfighter Skies – Mountain Home AFB, ID
June 16-17: Wings Over Northern Michigan – Gaylord, MI
June 23-24: Binghamton Airshow: Binghamton, NY
June 30-July 4: Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow – Battle Creek, MI

July 3: Dubuque Jaycees Radio Dubuque Airshow – Dubuque, IA (HF Only)
July 28-29: Tri-City Water Follies/HAPO Over The River – Kennewick WA

August 10-12: Abbotsford International Airshow – Abbotsford, BC

September 15-16: CAF High Sky Wing AIRSHO – Midland, TX
September 22-23: Osan Air Power Days – Osan AB, South Korea (Demo Only)
September 29-30: Oregon International Airshow – Hillboro, OR

October 6-7: Maryland Fleet Week and Airshow – Baltimore, MD
October 13-14: Wings Over North Georgia – Rome, GA

USAF F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

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USAF F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team

Here is the 2018 airshow schedule for the US Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration 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!

All shows unless listed otherwise include a USAF Heritage Flight.

2018 Appearance Schedule – US Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team

March 17: MCAS Yuma Airshow – Yuma, AZ
March 24-25: Los Angeles County Airshow – Lancaster, CA
March 24: Riverside Airshow – Riverside, CA (HF Only)

April 3-8: FIDAE 2018 – Santiago, Chile (Demo Only)
April 28-29: Beale Air Show – Beale AFB, CA

May 5-6: JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Open House – Trenton, NJ
May 12-13: MacDill Air Fest – MacDill AFB
May 19-20: Airpower Over Hampton Roads – JB Langley-Eustis, Hampton, VA
May 26-27: Jones Beach Air Show – Wantagh, NY

June 9-10: Thunder Over Niagara – Niagara Falls, NY
June 23-24: Dayton Air Show – Dayton, OH
June 30-July 1: Arctic Thunder Open House – Anchorage, AK

July 21-22: Cold Lake Air Show – Cold Lake, Alberta

August 10-12: Defenders of Freedom – Offutt, NE
August 18-19: Terre Haute Air Show – Terre Haute, IN

September 8: 187th Fighter Wing Open House – Montgomery, AL
September 16: VAANG Family Day – JB Langley-Eustis, VA (Demo Only)
September 22-23: NAS Oceana Air Show – Virginia Beach, VA
September 29-30: MCAS Miramar Air Show – Miramar, CA

October 6: 1 FW Family Day – JB Langley-Eustis, VA (Demo Only)
October 13-14: Atlanta Air Show – Hampton, GA
October 13-14: Wings over North Georgia – Rome, GA
October 20-21: Hammond Northshore Regional Airshow – Hammond, LA

November 1-3: NAS Pensacola Airshow – Pensacola, FL
November 10-11: Aviation Nation – Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, NV

USAF Thunderbirds 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Jet Teams, Schedules | 1

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: Luke AFB Air Show – Luke AFB, AZ
March 17-18: Melbourne Air & Space Show – Melbourne, FL
March 24-25: Wings Over Atlanta – Dobbins ARB, GA

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!

USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demo Team 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

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USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team

Here is the 2018 airshow schedule for the US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration 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-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team

February 12: WBCA Stars and Stripes Airshow -Laredo, TX
Feb 28-March 4: Heritage Flight Conference

April 21-22: Vero Beach Airshow – Vero Beach, FL
April 28-29: Wings Over Myrtle Beach – Myrtle Beach, SC

May 12-13: Dyess Big Country Airfest – Dyess AFB, TX
May 19-20: Hangar 24 Airfest – Redlands, CA
May 26-27: Miami Beach Air and Sea Show – Miami, FL

June 16-17: Chippewa Valley Airshow – Eau Claire, WI
June 30-July 1: Evansville ShrinersFest Airshow – Evansville, IN

July 21-22: Biloxi Gulf Coast Airshow – Biloxi, MS
July 24-29: EAA Airventure Oshkosh – Oshkosh, WI

August 25-26: Sound of Speed Airshow – St. Joseph, MO

September 1-3: Cleveland National Airshow – Cleveland, OH
September 7-9: Airshow London – London, ON
September 14-17: National Championship Air Races – Reno, NV

October 13-14: Spirit of St. Louis Airshow – Chesterfield, MO
October 20-21: Wings Over Houston Airshow – Houston, TX
October 27-28: NAS Jacksonville Airshow – NAS Jacksonville, FL

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 | 0

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:

USAF Report: Wet Runway Contributed To Thunderbird F-16 Crash In Dayton

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USAF Thunderbird #8 Crash in Dayton, OH
Photo via AP: Dayton Daily News

US Air Force officials stated that “excess speed and insufficient stopping distance” on a soaked runway resulted in the crash of a two seat F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the USAF Thunderbirds in Dayton, Ohio this past June.

Capt. Erik “Speedy” Gonsalves, Thunderbird #8, was in command of the jet at the time of the incident. Sgt. Kenneth Cordova, a maintenance crew member, was also on board at the time. The two were on a “familiarization flight” over Dayton while the team was in town to perform at the 2017 Vectren Dayton Airshow.

Upon landing, the jet slid off the runway and into the grass, causing the aircraft to flip.

The report mentions that Gonsalves missed his first landing approach and that water had restricted the view of his head-up display or HUD. This forced him to rely solely on cockpit instruments. On the second approach, the report claims that Gonsalves focused more on the runway than his airspeed, contributing to the crash. The Thunderbird F-16 touched down with only 6,130 feet of runway left. Seven to eight thousand feet of runway is required to land safely on wet pavement. The aircraft exited the runway and came to rest upside down in the grass nearby. It was destroyed in the incident.

An audio recording between Air Traffic Control and Thunderbird 8, obtained by the Dayton Daily News last month, revealed that the pilot was warned of “extreme precipitation” in the area and that ATC told him he was “flying at your own risk.”

In a statement, Air Combat Command spokeswoman Maj. Malinda Singleton said “Capt. Gonsalves is traveling with the team and narrating shows, but he is not medically cleared to fly at this time.”

Second African-American Thunderbird Honored In Alabama

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Captain Joseph “Pete” Peterson

The USAF Thunderbirds honored one of their own during a dedication ceremony in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Captain Joseph N. “Pete” Peterson graduated from Tuskegee Public School in 1967. It was during his high school years when he developed an interest in flying and started taking lessons. After graduation, he attended Auburn University and participated in the school’s ROTC program. On August 27th, 1971, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. During his flying career, he served in Korea flying the F-4E Phantom.

In 1981, Capt. Peterson joined the Thunderbirds. As only the second African-American pilot to join the team, he broke barriers and continued to change the way things were done. Sadly, he was one of the four pilots killed in the infamous “Diamond Crash” in 1982.

A 10.5 mile portion of State Road 199 in Tuskegee, AL changed names to honor Peterson. The Captain Joseph “Pete” Peterson Memorial Boulevard honors the legacy that Peterson left. The road, near Morton Field Airport, connects two former Tuskegee airfields where black pilots trained in the days when training was segregated.

In a post on their Facebook page, the USAF Thunderbirds said that “as a Thunderbird, Pete exemplified everything we are as Airmen then and today — Bold, Courageous, and always #BreakingBarriers”

The six F-16 fighting falcons performed a flyover during the ceremony.

Thunderbirds Flyover State Route 199

Photos courtesy of the USAF Thunderbirds

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