Category Archives: Airshow news

Red Arrows will move to Waddington after closure of RAF Scampton

LINCOLN |The RAF Red Arrows’ new base will be RAF Waddington, less than 10 miles south of their current base at Scampton, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

RAF Scampton, which is expected to close in around 2022, has been the home of the Red Arrows since 1983, with a brief move to RAF Cranwell between 1995 and 2000. However, they continued to use the airspace over Scampton for training. Although Scampton is expected to be sold off for redevelopment, the Red Arrows will continue to use its airspace for training after their move.

Waddington is one of five front-line RAF bases, home to the UK’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) fleet. This includes aircraft such as the E-3D Sentry, RC-135 Rivet Joint and Sentinel R1. Waddington was previously named as the Red Arrows’ new home in 2008, but the move was cancelled several years later.

The closure of RAF Scampton was announced in 2018 as part of a major cost-cutting exercise. Two other RAF bases were considered as potential new Red Arrows bases: RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire and RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire, however there was a strong local movement in Lincoln to keep the Red Arrows nearby.

The Ministry of Defence said it would look at ways to preserve Scampton’s “rich history”. During the second world war, Scampton was home to the infamous 617 Squadron, who staged the daring Dambusters raid in 1943. It was later a base for Vulcan bombers.

One dies as Snowbirds jet crashes into residential area in Kamloops, BC

KAMLOOPS | A CT-114 Tutor belonging to the Canadian Forces Snowbirds has  crashed into a house in Kamloops, British Columbia, killing one and injuring another.

Two a jets belonging to the squadron took off from Kamloops bound for Comox at around 11:30 on Sunday 17th May, but one quickly turned back towards the airport, entered a steep dive and crashed with two people on board.

The Royal Canadian Air Force said: “It is with heavy hearts that we announce that one member of the CF Snowbirds team has died and one has sustained serious injuries.”

The team’s Public Affairs Officer, Captain Jennifer Casey, was killed in the accident. Capt. Casey joined the RCAF in 2014 and previously served as PAO for the CF-18 Demo Team, and joined the Snowbirds last year. On social media, the Snowbirds described Capt. Casey as a “dedicated member” of the team.

“We are deeply saddened and grieve alongside Jenn’s family and friends,” said Lieutenant General Al Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. “Our thoughts are also with the loved ones of Captain MacDougall. We hope for a swift recovery from his injuries.”

The second team member involved, Snowbird #11 Capt. Richard MacDougall, is the team’s advance pilot and coordinator, was able to eject and landed on the roof of a house. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries, but was not thought to be in a life-threatening condition, according to the RCAF.

There do not appear to have been any injuries on the ground.

The Snowbirds are Canada’s national aerobatic team and operate the ageing CT-114 Tutor, a former RCAF training aircraft which was retired from regular service in 2000. The team have recently been performing flypasts across Canada as part of Operation Inspiration, giving thanks to healthcare workers and boosting morale.

The team had been due to leave Kamloops for Kelowna, performing flypasts along the way as part of Operation Inspiration. However, low cloud forced a last-minute change of plan and the team instead announced they would be flying to Comox, from which they would later stage further flybys.

Last year, a Snowbirds aircraft crashed before the Atlanta Airshow following engine problems. The pilot was able to eject and survived with only minor injuries.

Australian International Airshow is first 2021 show to be postponed by coronavirus

AVALON | The Australian International Airshow has become the first 2021 airshow facing postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo: William Reid

Organisers are worried the show, originally scheduled for the 23rd-28th February, will face logistical problems and uncertainty about international travel, which they said would cause “unacceptable risk” to the trade portion of their event if the show were not to be rescheduled. Instead, organisers are considering holding the show in November 2021, with precise dates to be confirmed shortly.

With the show’s public days due to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force, it is important that the show goes ahead before the end of 2021, with the anniversary itself taking place on the 31st March. The Australian International Airshow is expected to be the largest airshow celebrating the anniversary.

The Royal Australian Air Force aways provide a strong mix of displays, featuring aircraft such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, F-35A Lightning, KC-30 MRTT, C-17A Globemaster, BAE Hawk 127, C-27 Spartan and others, although their participation at the 2021 show is expected to be particularly spectacular. It is also likely to feature the first Avalon performance of The Roulettes in their brand new Pilatus PC-21s.

“Don’t take the risk”: EAA announce cancellation of AirVenture 2020

OSHKOSH | The Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual AirVenture show has been cancelled officially for 2020 because of continuing uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic.

The airshow, scheduled for the 20th-26th July, is billed as the world’s largest aviation celebration. It had been due to feature the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, demonstrations and heritage flights from the US Air Force, and an expanded warbird segment to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

In an email to EAA members, the CEO of the EAA, Jack Pelton, said: “It is May here in Wisconsin, and unfortunately like many of you across the country, we are still under a stay at home order through May 26. Normally, this is the month when we start our preflight planning for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. By this time, we should have begun ramping up our entire site in preparation for our July convention … But because of circumstances beyond our control, none of this can happen now.”

Mr Pelton also said there was continuing uncertainty over what health guidelines would be in July, and whether large public gatherings will be permitted. “Right now, there are three phases that have been defined in Wisconsin as the recommended procedures,” he said. “As I write this, we are not in Phase 1 yet. Phase 2 restricts gatherings to 50 people. Phase 3 allows for mass gathering with restrictions.”

He added that he could see “no clear path” to meeting health and safety requirements, such as sanitization, separation and personal protection.

“My conclusion is, like in any good flight planning, don’t take the risk,” he said. “Therefore, I have no choice but to cancel AirVenture 2020. Together, we can come back stronger, safer and ready for AirVenture 2021 and create a memorable world class aviation event.”

Most airshows worldwide are cancelled through to the end of June, with a growing number of July, August and September events also being scrapped. For details of the latest cancellations, please visit our global airshow calendar.

Thunderbirds seen with coloured smoke as flypasts with Blue Angels planned across USA

PENSACOLA | The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels are due to perform joint flypasts across the United States over the coming week to boost national unity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nine F-16s of the Thunderbirds arrived at the Blue Angel’s base in Pensacola on Monday 20th April, fuelling speculation that the two teams would be performing flyovers together. The teams flew together over Pensacola the following day, although the Blue Angels rebuffed reports that further flyovers were planned on social media.

The plans were confirmed on Wednesday at a White House press briefing. Operation America Strong will see both teams performing non-aerobatic flypasts over cities such as Washington DC, Baltimore, New York, Newark, Trenton, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Austin, according to the Washington Post, although an official list of locations has not been published at the time of writing.

Additionally, the Blue Angels will perform flybys of Miami, Tampa, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Kingsville and Corpus Christi. The Thunderbirds are due to be seen over San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, the Post said.

The announcement comes just days after the Department of Defense extended its ban on non-essential travel and public outreach activities from the 15th May until the end of June, including the cancellation of military-run shows and military participation in other events.

Also on Wednesday, the Thunderbirds were spotted trailing red and blue smoke over Pensacola. While coloured smoke is common among European and Asian aerobatic teams, and was used by the Thunderbirds in the 1960s, a previous attempt to use coloured smoke with the team’s F-16s were unsuccessful as the hot exhaust caused the coloured dye to burn.

The RSAF Black Knights attempted to use coloured smoke with their F-16s in 2007, but abandoned the plans after the red dye stained crops during a test run, forcing the Air Force to compensate farmers. Other teams have experienced problems with aircraft staining, and with dye clogging up the smoke system.

The use of coloured smoke has not been officially acknowledged by the team, and as a result, it is not clear if, or when, this feature will be seen in public, or whether it will be retained for regular airshows after the end of Operation America Strong.

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The Thunderbirds had already flown over Las Vegas and Colorado as a tribute to healthcare workers as both teams press ahead with their training, despite most airshows being cancelled at least until July.

Flypasts will not include aerobatic manoeuvres and will be planned to avoid areas where crowds may build up, in order to promote social distancing.

Royal International Air Tattoo cancelled amid coronavirus outbreak

FAIRFORD | This year’s Royal International Air Tattoo, known as the world’s largest military airshow, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus, the first July airshow to be hit by the disease.

The airshow had been due to take place from the 17th-19th July at RAF Fairford, with performers such as the Patrouille Suisse, Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM and US Air Force F-16C expected to take part in the flying display.

The airshow organisers said: “This decision has not been taken lightly and a significant amount of work sits behind this course of action.  The crisis, which is worsening by the day, and the implications of which are becoming more profound, has led us to conclude that the most prudent course of action is to cease any further planning to deliver this significant event.

“The Air Tattoo is reliant on the support of a wide range of stakeholders, not least the participation of international air arms, medical professionals, military security teams and our Emergency Services, many of whom are delivering a fundamental contribution to fighting this crisis. We believe delivery of our event would distract them from this.

“At the heart of this difficult decision is our firm belief that staging the Air Tattoo this year would not only run counter to the current Government advice but would also be beyond what we could reasonably ask of our supporters. We recognise that our decision will have a negative financial impact on our valued suppliers and traders, on the local economy that benefits so much from the large influx of people who arrive in the area for one week in July, as well as on our parent charity. For this we apologise.”

Although dozens of airshows have already been cancelled globally due to the coronavirus, the Royal International Air Tattoo 2020 is the only one so far beyond mid-June to be scrapped. However, given its reliance on international air arms, the event is particularly vulnerable to global pandemics.

It is the third UK airshow to be officially cancelled, after the Midlands Air Festival and Duxford Air Festival were pulled from the calendar earlier in the week. Schools are to close to most pupils today, and 1.4 million Britons with underlying health conditions are being advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks, starting over the weekend. Follow the latest news as the outbreak continuis to affect the airshow industry on our coronavirus live blog.

The next Royal International Air Tattoo will be held on the 16th-18th July 2021, and will celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary. Remember if you want to re-live previous Air Tattoos, our 90-minute documentary on RIAT 2018 is available on our website!

USAF cancels all airshows and demo team appearances until mid-May

The United States Air Force will be suspending its outreach programmes due to uncertainty over the coronavirus outbreak.

After two days of individual show cancellations, the Brig. Gen Edward Thomas, the USAF’s director of public affairs, said: “The Air Force is committed to upholding the complete trust and confidence of Americans and our community engagement is the key to those connections. However, due to the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and to protect our Airmen, their families and the communities that support us, the Department of the Air Force is suspending all outreach activities and support to community events through May 15.

“This includes, but is not limited to, on-base and civilian sponsored air shows, band performances and community engagements and meetings (speaking engagements, community meetings on installations, base tours, Pentagon visits, etc.).

“We will continue to support funeral flyovers on a case-by-case basis. The Air Force will continuously evaluate the situation and provide updates as needed.”

You can stay up to date on our LIVE BLOG.


USAF airshows in this period include:

  • Mar 14: Laughlin AFB Fiesta of Flight, TX
  • Mar 21-22: Luke Days Air & Space Expo, AZ
  • Mar 28-29: MacDill AFB Tampa Bay AirFest, FL
  • Apr 18-19: Maxwell AFB Beyond the Horizon Airshow, AL
  • Apr 18-19: JB Charleston Air & Space Expo, SC
  • Apr 25-26: Wings Over Columbus, MS
  • May 9-10: Beale AFB Thunder Over Recce Town, CA
  • May 9-10: Dyess Big Country AirFest, TX

Other shows still scheduled to go ahead will lose headline acts, such as the Fort Lauderdale Airshow, which was scheduled to host the Thunderbirds, Thunder Over Louisville, which was expected to feature USAF flyovers and solo demonstrations, and the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In, recently rescheduled to early May.

Patrulla Águila suspended from aerobatic displays and training following crash

MURCIA | Aerobatic displays by Spain’s main aerobatic team have been suspended following three fatal accidents in just six months at the team’s base of San Javier.

According to El País, Spain’s second-largest daily newspaper, the Spanish Air Force have cancelled training and displays by Patrulla Águila while they perform a review of its training methods and the workload of its pilots. Patrulla Águila pilots must fly for the aerobatic team while also working as full-time flight instructors.

It had been speculated that the team could be grounded after its solo pilot, Commander Eduardo Garvalena, was killed in a training accident last month while flying a 40-year-old C-101 Aviojet belonging to the team. His predecessor, Cmdr. Francisco Marín, died flying a C-101 in Murcia last August, shortly after passing over the reigns to Cmdr. Garvalena. As Patrulla Águila solo pilots are trained by their predecessors, there is currently no way to quickly train a replacement pilot.

However, Spain’s ageing fleet of C-101s has not been grounded, and El País say that investigators have not found a technical fault on Cmdr. Garvalena’s aircraft, although the investigation is ongoing. This means that Patrulla Águila will continue to participate in parades and flypasts.

Spain’s fleet of over 60 C-101s are due to be replaced in some roles by the Pilatus PC-21 over the next few years, with the entire fleet expected to be retired before the end of the decade.

Pakistan Air Force F-16 crashes during Republic Day parade practice

ISLAMABAD | An F-16 belonging to the Pakistan Air Force has crashed in Islamabad while practicing for the Republic Day parade, killing the pilot.

Wing Commander Nouman Akram died in the accident, which is now the subject of an inquiry by the Pakistan Air Force. There were no casualties on the ground or damage to property.

The jet was rehearsing a solo aerobatic display, due to be performed at the Republic Day parade on the 23rd March. The parade typically includes several solo displays from the Pakistan Air Force, such as the F-16 Fightning Falcon or JF-17 Thunder, as well as flypasts and a performance by Pakistan’s aerobatic team, the Sherdils. Foreign air forces, including those of China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have also performed on occasions.