With many North American military airshow teams releasing their 2023 airshow schedules at the International Council of Air Shows Convention in Las Vegas this week, the 2023 airshow season in the US and Canada is starting to take shape.
Three events this year boast double jet team headliners: one in Canada, and two in California, all towards the end of the airshow season. The first is the Canadian International Airshow (CIAS) in Toronto on the 2nd-4th September, which will feature the Snowbirds and Blue Angels. Additionally, CIAS is the only event outside the United States to have secured one of the two US military aerobatic teams and a solo demonstration – on this occasion, the USAF F-16C Fighting Falcon. It will be joined by Canada’s CF-18 Demonstration Team, making this perhaps the most extensive military line up in North America of the year, as it stands.
The next double jet team show will be the Pacific Airshow in Huntington Beach, featuring the Snowbirds and the Thunderbirds, as well as a USAF F-22A Raptor and USMC MV-22B Osprey. The show will be held from the 30th September-1st October. The Snowbirds and Thunderbirds will then appear alongside each other again the following weekend at the California International Airshow in Salinas.
A larger number of events have secured multiple fast jet solos, in addition to one major aerobatic team: Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona at Davis-Monthan AFB will include the Thunderbirds, A-10 and F-35A on the 25th-26th March; Sun ‘n Fun will feature the Blue Angels, F-35A and F-35B on the 1st-2nd April; Airpower over Hampton Roads will feature the Thunderbirds, F-22 and F-35A on the 6th-7th May; the Abbotsford International Airshow will feature the Snowbirds, F-35 and CF-18 on the 11th-13th August; the Kansas City Airshow will feature the Blue Angels, F-35A and F-35B on the 19th-20th August; and the Cleveland National Airshow will feature the Thunderbirds, Harrier and F-22 on the 2nd-4th September.
Not all events have been so lucky. Notably, EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh has secured only one military act so far: the USAF F-22A Raptor. In Australia, the Pacific Airshow’s Gold Coast edition has been touting its US military connections and talking up their chances of getting major international participation, but the event has not been listed on any of the performer schedules released at the ICAS Convention. Several major Canadian shows have also missed the chance to secure a major jet team headliner, including Airshow Atlantic and the Boundary Bay Airshow. Interestingly, Thunder Over Michigan, which has recently moved to a controversial drive-in format, has not attracted a jet team in either 2023 or 2024.
It is worth noting that several notable teams did not release their schedules as expected at the Convention: no US Navy schedules are available yet, and the USAF’s West Coast C-17 Demo Team is also yet to confirm any shows. Many shows – especially those run by the US military – can expect to recieve additional role demonstrations and flybys from units other than the official demonstration teams. Often, participation in overseas shows is also announced seperately.
Provisional Thunderbirds and Blue Angels schedules for 2024 also gave a clue about what shows could be worth attending in 2024. They confirm the intention to bring back popular USAF-run events at Edwards AFB and Nellis AFB on the 19th-20th October and the 2nd-3rd November respectively. Other well-known bases such as Elmendorf and Whiteman will also be hosting shows headlined by one of the two American jet teams. Interestingly, the schedules also confirm a Thunderbirds appearance at Aero Gatineau-Ottawa in Canada on the 7th-8th September – the first time the show has attracted a foreign jet team. However, the provisional schedules do not, at this stage, suggest either team will be attending an official RCAF centenary airshow, should one be held.