Aerobatic Pilot Killed During Night Airshow In Virginia

posted in: Airshows | 2

Jon Thocker - Redline Airshows

Aerobatic pilot Jon Thocker was killed in a crash while performing during the Friday night airshow at the 2018 Culpeper Air Fest in Culpeper, Virginia. Jon was the #2 pilot on the Redline Airshows team. The other Redline pilot, Ken Rieder, landed safely shortly after the incident. There is little information on what happened as the performance was flown in the dark.

Jon and Ken, both based in Cincinnati, Ohio, performed formation aerobatics across North America. Each pilot flew a Van’s RV-8 home-built aircraft. They were particularly known for their night time routine, which included sparklers and fireworks launched from the aircraft.

Jon was a former airline captain who retired to focus on building and flying experimental aircraft. The team recently finished building new airplanes with modifications designed to improve their night performances. We here at AirshowStuff were privileged to work with Jon several times in the last few years, and we are tremendously saddened by the loss of a great man.

One such project was this cockpit video from Jon’s aircraft several years ago. Enjoy the ride he was willing to share with us.

USAF Thunderbirds Announce Return To Airshows Following Fatal Crash

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 0

USAF Thunderbirds

The Thunderbirds are back! In a video posted by the team, Thunderbird #1 Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh announced that the team has been authorized to perform at the AirPower Over Hampton Roads airshow at Langley AFB this coming weekend. This will mark their first public performance following the fatal crash of Thunderbird #4, Major Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno, in April.

Several airshow appearances were canceled in the wake of the crash, as the team observed a safety stand down from flying and then welcomed the previous Thunderbird #4 Major Nick “Khan” Krajicek back to the team to fly as the replacement slot pilot. Now that they have been approved to return to performing, they will get back to their previously announced 2018 airshow schedule.

Atlantic Trident 2017 Exercise Combines Eurofighters, Rafales, And Raptors To Strengthen Ties Between Allies

posted in: Event Recap, Military | 0

French Air Force Rafale - Atlantic Trident 2017

After entering World War I on the 6th of April 1917, the United States’ participation in Europe led down a path of air power that resulted in our current day United States Air Force. On 5 May 1918, the American Expeditionary Force in Europe activated the 1st Pursuit Group at Gencoult, France. Commanded by Major Bert M. Atkinson, this unit was the first American group-level fighter organization and is now known as the 1st Fighter Wing, the Air Force’s oldest Wing. The 1st Pursuit Group consisted of five Aero Squadrons: 27th, 94th, 95th, 147th, and 185th. Of these five, the 27th and the 94th remain part of the wing to this day, and ensure air dominance with their F-22 Raptors.

During combat throughout Europe, the pilots of the 1st Pursuit Group conducted over 1,400 aerial engagements and accumulated 202 confirmed aerial victories. The 27th Aero Squadron’s 2nd Lieutenant Frank Luke Jr. achieved 18 aerial victories before he was shot down and killed while engaging the enemy on the ground on 29 September 1918. For his actions, Luke received the Air Force’s first ever Medal of Honor. The 94th Fighter Squadron’s Captain Eddie Rickenbacker achieved 26 aerial victories, more than any other American pilot in WWI. While on patrol on 25 September 1918, Rickenbacker engaged seven enemy planes on his own, destroying two, and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry against the enemy. On 10 November 1918, the day before the war ended, Major Maxwell Kirby of the 94th Aero Squadron recorded the last aerial victory of WWI. Throughout the war, the 1st Pursuit Group remained constantly engaged with the enemy in the skies over the battlefields and earned eight campaign credits.

Royal Air Force Typhoon - Atlantic Trident 2017USAF F-22 Raptor - Atlantic Trident 2017

It was during WWI that the Air Forces of the three countries participating in Atlantic Trident 2017, namely the US, France, and Great Britain, began building a relationship that has lasted 100 years. The 27th Aero Squadron’s origins are tied closely to the Royal Flying Corps of the British Army. The 27th received its advanced aerial training from British instructors in Canada before deploying to Europe. In addition, the commander of the squadron when they entered the war was Major Harold E. Hartney, a former Royal Flying Corps veteran who had already flown in combat and been shot down by Baron Manfred von Richthofen. The British cultural influence and training helped make the 27th one of the most lethal American squadrons during the war with 56 confirmed aerial victories.

Atlantic Trident 2017 is not only a multi-national training exercise but a celebration of the alliance the UK, France, and United States maintain. The 2017 exercise includes French Rafales, Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s from the UK, as well as home-based F-22 Raptors, F-35As from Eglin AFB in Florida, and F-15E Strike Eagles from Mountain Home AFB in Idaho. The Strike Eagles got the opportunity to team up with Langley T-38 Talons to serve as the bad guys, or “red air”.

French Air Force Rafale - Atlantic Trident 2017Patrouille de France - Atlantic Trident 2017

To help commemorate this anniversary, the base hosted a media day and small airshow during the exercise. The morning consisted of a USAF F-22 Raptor demonstration followed by a French Air Force Rafale demonstration. The Patrouille de France finished it up with their aerobatic performance. Following the demonstrations, we were given the chance to interview the crews from the demonstrations and then visit the alert hangars for a static display that included all the exercise aircraft. The day finished up with a mass launch of 24 aircraft for the only planned sortie of the day; quite a lot of military metal in the skies over eastern Virginia!

We would like to extend our gratitude to Jeff Hood, Maj. Whitlatch and everyone at the 633d Air Base Wing, Joint Base Langley-Eustis for going above and beyond to make this day happen.

Photos courtesy of guest contributor Andy Backowski.

USAF F-15E Strike Eagle - Atlantic Trident 2017USAF F-35A Lightning II - Atlantic Trident 2017

Airpower Over Hampton Roads Thunders Back To Life With Excellent 2016 Show

posted in: Airshows, Event Recap | 1

F-22 Raptor with open bomb bays - Airpower Over Hampton Roads 2016

After a five year absence, airplanes and skydivers once again soared through the skies of Hampton, Virginia at Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ Airpower Over Hampton Roads airshow April 22nd-24th, 2016.

Langley, which was scheduled to hold an airshow in 2013 but had to cancel it due to sequestration. The return of Airpower Over Hampton Roads kicked off Langley’s 100th anniversary celebration, which will last through all of 2016.

Headlining Airpower Over Hampton Roads were the USAF Thunderbirds. Langley is unique because as far as airshows go, it’s one of the very few places where you can see the F-22 Raptor demonstration and the Thunderbirds at the same airshow. However, mother nature wasn’t too kind to the show. The Thunderbirds’ performance on Friday (practice day) had to be canceled due to thunderstorms which blew around objects on the field and brought dangerous lightning. The Friday night show and concert was canceled. Saturday, while starting off beautiful, also turned stormy right before the F-22 demo team was scheduled to begin their demonstration. The rest of the airshow was canceled out of an abundance of caution, leaving just Sunday to see the Thunderbirds fly.

Strike Eagle lands at Langley AFBRob Holland flies at Langley AFB

Sunday was bright and sunny, with the cold front that brought the stormy weather having moved through and to the south of the area. With cool temperatures, it was a perfect airshow day. All aircraft were able to fly, and the Thunderbirds finished off the day with their high show performance.

While the storms caused some trouble, they certainly provided for excellent photo opportunities. Check out what Randy Ball’s MiG-17 looked like against the stormy skies! We’ve also included a few preview pics. Our full album will be up soon.

Randy Ball at Airpower Over Hampton Roads 2016

Thunderbirds Taxi InUSAF Thunderbird Helmet - Airpower Over Hampton Roads

Static displays included a B-1 Bomber, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, F-15 Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Warthog, EF-2000 Typhoon, NASA Langley aircraft and Langley’s own F-22s and T-38s.

The airshow featured a rare treat – a 3-ship Heritage Flight including a P-51 Mustang, F-35 Lightning and the F-22 Raptor! Check out our video of the entire F-22 Raptor demonstration, including an F-35 afterburner takeoff and the Heritage Flight!

Also check out our other videos from the show in our Airpower OVer Hampton Roads 2016 playlist:

US Navy Hornet Demo Teams Practice For 2016 Season

posted in: Airshows, Military | 0

IMG_1946web-XL

It’s that time again! Fans and pilots alike are starting to get ready for the 2016 season. The Navy is as well! In order to qualify for certification, the US Navy demo teams must fly a certain number of practice flights before their first public performance. Many of these practice flights take place at their home base.

Therefore, starting February 22nd and running through March 4th, residents in Virginia Beach, VA and around NAS Oceana will hear louder than normal jet noise and see some low level flying by the F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet demo teams. These flights will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays with Friday as a backup date.

The practice demos will begin around 3:30pm and run for 45 minutes until around 4:15. If previous practice demos we’ve seen are any indication, both teams will fly. Low clouds and rainy conditions could cancel or reschedule demos, but those are the typical flight times.

The Hornet demo teams also fly at the Dare County Bombing Range in Dare, NC and in a simulator before taking to the skies over Oceana.