Topeka’s acclaimed ‘Thunder Over the Heartland’ Airshow announces new format and 2024 return

Topeka’s ‘Thunder Over the Heartland’ Airshow will return in 2024 for its second edition – which will follow a radical new format.

This year’s edition will be held at Topeka Regional Airport in Kansas on Friday 11th-Sunday 13th October, headlined by the USAF Thunderbirds. The Friday and Saturday shows will start in the afternoon, running until after dark and concluding with pyrotechic air displays, a “wall of fire” and choreographed firework show. Sunday’s event will be a more conventional daytime show.

Airshow director Luke Carrico promised that Thunder Over the Heartland would be “unlike any airshow this part of the world has seen before”.

He added: “Our event is entirely about the guest experience. Incredible flying performances will be combined with architectural lighting, and best-in-class hospitality to make this a next-generation aerial event.”

Thunder Over the Heartland made its debut in 2021, and immediately captured the attention of aviation enthusiasts by attracting one of the biggest line ups of military aircraft of the year. Around 100 aircraft participated in the show in total, including almost 60 from the US Air Force, with the likes of the F-16, B-29, E-3, RC-135, KC-135 and T-38 taking part in the flying display. Static entrants included the B-52, C-17, KC-46, KC-10, F-22, F-15, A-10 and many others.

This year’s show aims to retain a high-calibre line up of elusive of military aircraft, but will add a major jet team headliner in the form of the US Air Force Thunderbirds as well as night time civilian performers. Specific performer announcements will follow in the coming weeks.

The organisers have travelled extensively and taken inspiration from some of the most innovative airshows in the world – particularly the popular Antidotum Airshow in Leszno, Poland. The two events will exchange information, ideas and best practices. The team also attended the recent European Airshow Council Convention in Brussels, with the aim of attracting international participation in future years.

The airshow in Topeka will also be bringing its own new ideas to the table, such as a concert-style sound system and architectural uplighting for static display aircraft, bringing the static display to life after dark and transforming the entire showground into an immersive, three-dimensional light show.

Additionally, Thunder Over the Heartland will be adding a ‘Spotter Pack’ – an enthusiast-centric hospitality package that includes the three show days as well as arrivals and practices on Thursday 10th October. Among the proposed facilities are a photo pit with raised platforms offering clear views of the aerobatic box and hot ramp, a covered area with seating and charging facilities, private toilets, early access to the showground on the public days and night time engine runs on the Friday and Saturday.

Tickets will go on sale this spring, with earlybird customers enjoying substantial discounts. Fans can find out about ticket sales first by signing up as an ‘Airshow Insider’ at the show’s official website.