Category Archives: Airshow News America

Blue Angels retire long-serving C-130T “Fat Albert”

PENSACOLA | The US Navy Blue Angels officially retired their C-130 support plane, affectionately known as “Fat Albert”, on Wednesday 22nd May.

Photo: David Leadingham

The aircraft, which joined the team in 2002, has had a decreased presence on the airshow circuit for the past few years after long-running maintenance and fleet groundings.

The Blue Angels described the retirement as “a bittersweet day”, saying that Fat Albert had served the Blue Angels “honorably” and accumulated over 30,000 flight hours with the team. They said: “While this may come as a shock to many of our fans, we have known this day was coming. Fat Albert will enjoy her retirement as a ground-based training aid in Fort Worth, Texas.”

The C-130T, which was formerly a much-loved part of the Blue Angels’ show, made its flying display debut at the Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow at Pensacola in 2002. In 2009 it became the last Hercules to use JATO rockets on take-off.

The aircraft was grounded in August 2016 for maintenance, when it was discovered that a complete overhaul was required. A year later, the entire C-130T fleet was grounded after a fatal accident. She re-joined the team in July 2018, but has rarely flown for the public since then.

The Blue Angels will use fleet-provided aircraft for transport and logistics until a permanent replacement can be identified. It has been speculated that the US Navy may acquire a C-130J Hercules C.5 from the Royal Air Force for this purpose.

Major update to USAF Demo Team schedules sees RIAT, Oshkosh gain displays

Three of the USAF’s acclaimed solo demonstration teams have announced sweeping updates to their display schedules.

The announcements began in the past few days with the F-35A Demo Team adding EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh to their schedule. More recently, the A-10 Demo Team did likewise, cancelling its performance at Grand Junction to attend AirVenture and the Miwaukee Air & Water Show.

It looked briefly as though all four demo teams would be attending AirVenture (albeit limited to “mini-demonstrations” due to the small size of the aerobatic box at Oshkosh) until the F-16C Viper Demo Team announced their own schedule update, dropping AirVenture from the list. Milwaukee was also removed.

Several shows were added, however, including Grand Junction (replacing the A-10), the Chicago Air & Water Show and Wings Over North Georgia in Rome. The team will also perform a Heritage Flight at the Indy 500 on the 26th May.

Most notably, though, the Viper Demo Team have added the Royal International Air Tattoo in the UK. They are the first display act from outside Europe and the Middle East on the flying display lineup this year.


Rob Reider: “Miramar just got the Red Arrows”

MIRAMAR | One of the largest airshows in the USA will feature the RAF Red Arrows this year, according to veteran airshow announcer Rob Reider.

The announcement was made in the fifth episode the Ric, Rob, Matt Air Show Podcast, featuring Ric Peterson, Rob Reider and Matt Jolley.

Towards the end of the episode, Matt says he “just got the word” of a major announcement, adding “I don’t know if it’s public yet.” Rob replies: “You know what, I’m going to say it anyway because Chris Van Stelle got in touch with me. Miramar just got the Red Arrows, so Matt and I will be able to enjoy those guys.”

Chris Van Stelle is the director of the Miramar Airshow, a large-scale military airshow near San Diego scheduled for the 27th-29th September. In addition to the Reds, the show has also confirmed the Blue Angels, USAF F-16 Demo Team and displays from the United States Marine Corps, including the AV-8 Harrier and MAGTF Demo.

The Red Arrows will be engaging in a nine-week tour of North America in August and September this year, with the bulk of the team’s schedule already confirmed. However, there were two open weekends in the schedule, including during the Miramar Airshow.

The Red Arrows are the national aerobatic team of the United Kingdom and fly an attractive 25-minute display with nine Hawk T.1 jet trainers.

“Year of the Fighter” – new theme will bring classic and current fighters to Oshkosh

OSHKOSH | The EAA’s annual AirVenture show has been given a boost today with the announcement of a new theme for the event: Year of the Fighter.

The experimental Aircraft Association listed a number of modern-day fighters for the show, including the A-10 Warthog, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning. Of those, the F-16 and F-22 will perform mini-demonstrations and heritage Flights with P-51D Mustangs, an A-1 Skyraider and an F-86 Sabre, according to the Heritage Flight Foundation.

There will also be a selection of Naval fighters, including F4U Corsairs. According to the Tailhook Legacy Flight Foundation, these will also fly in various combinations with an EA-18G Growler, T-45 Goshawk and T-6B Texan II.

World War II ace Bud Anderson, the EAA have invited every flying P-51 Mustang in the United States to participate. This will include the Oshkosh debut of the world’s only flying XP-82 Twin Mustang, which made its first flight early this year.

While not strictly fighters, the EAA also promised to observe the 75th anniversary of D-Day with representative aircraft, including C-47s returning from the Daks Over Normandy event in France and the UK.

Severe flooding causes cancellation of Offutt AFB Airshow

OFFUTT | The Defenders of Freedom Airshow at Offutt AFB this June has been cancelled after the base was hit by severe floods.

The show was scheduled for the 1st-2nd June and was to be headlined by the USAF Thunderbirds and US Navy Legacy Flight. However, in recent weeks the region has suffered severe flooding as heavy rain causes rivers to burst their banks. Hundreds of families have been forced to leave their homes and four people have been killed.

The New York Times reported that on Sunday, one third of Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, was underwater.

In a statement, the 55th Wing confirmed that they were fully mission-capable but the flooding has made hosting this summer’s event “untenable”.

“The scope of this historic disaster has touched nearly every aspect of Nebraska including Offutt Air Force Base,” said Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander. “Assessing the impact to the base is ongoing and we will recover, but it is obvious it will be some time before we can return to normal operations or have the capacity to host an event like an air show and open house.

“We sincerely enjoy opening our gates to the public and appreciate the tremendous support we get from Bellevue, Omaha and the surrounding communities and are committed to continuing the open house and air show at the next available opportunity.”

Those who have purchased premium ‘Flight Deck’ seating will be refunded. No other future dates for an airshow at Offutt have been announced.

US Navy TACDEMO and Legacy Flight schedules

The US Navy will be upping its airshow participation this year, with an increase in the number of shows receiving Super Hornet demonstrations and dozens of events hosting Legacy Flights.

The TACDEMO will this year feature an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, with the phasing out of F/A-18C Legacy Hornets. The team will perform at eight venues, up from seven last year.

Date Show
Mar 30-31 Southernmost Air Spectacular, NAS Key West, FL, USA
Apr 13 Thunder over Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA
May 25-26 Bethpage Airshow, Jones Beach, NY, USA
Jun 29-30 National Cherry Festival Air Show, Traverse City, MI, USA
Jul 13-14 Toledo Airshow, Toledo ANGB, OH, USA
Aug 17-18 Sioux Falls Airshow – South Dakota ANG, Joe Foss Field, SD, USA
Aug 31-Sep 2 Cleveland National Airshow, Burke Lakefront Airshow, OH, USA
Sep 21-22 NAS Oceana Airshow, Virginia Beach, VA, USA

Legacy Flights will also return in considerable numbers, with several dates posted on the Navy Legacy Flight Foundation website. These will feature the F/A-18 Hornet, FJ-4B Fury, T-45 Goshawk, SB2C Helldiver, T-6B Texan II, EA-18G Growler, A-4 Skyhawk and T-2 Buckeye, among others. One show in Canada is also planned.

Date Show Aircraft
Mar 15-17 Space Coast Warbird Airshow, Titusville, FL, USA F4U, T-45
Mar 30-31 Southernmost Air Spectacular, NAS Key West, FL, USA F4U, F-18
Mar 30-31 Melbourne Air & Space Show, Melbourne, FL, USA T-2, F-18
Apr 2-7 Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In, Lakeland, FL, USA SNJ, SNJ, T-2, T-28, T-45
Apr 6-7 Heart of Texas Airshow, Waco, TX, USA SB2C, T-45
May 3-5 Central Texas Airshow, Temple, TX, USA Wildcat, T-45
May 10-12 Chennault International Airshow, Lake Charles, LA, USA SB2C, T-6B
May 18-19 Hangar 24 Craft Brewery AirFest, Redlands, CA, USA FJ-4B, F-18
May 25-26 Miami Beach Air & Sea Show, Miami Beach, FL, USA AD-4, T-6B
Jun 1-2 Offutt AFB Defenders of Freedom Air Show, Bellvue, NE, USA T-2, T-6B
Jun 15-16 Wings Over Northern Michigan Airshow, Gaylord, MI, USA A-4, EA-18G
Jun 22-23 Vectran Dayton Airshow, Dayton, OH, USA A-4, F-18
Jun 29-30 National Cherry Festival Air Show, Traverse City, MI, USA Bearcat, F-18
Jun 29-30 Quad City Airshow, Davenport, IA, USA F4U, T-45
Jul 4 Tacoma Freedom Fair & Airshow, Tacoma, WA, USA AD-4, EA-18G
Jul 6-7 Gig Harbor Wings & Wheels, Tacoma Narrows, WA, USA AD-4, F-18
Jul 13-14 Toledo Airshow, Toledo ANGB, OH, USA F4U, F-18
Jul 22-28 EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh, WI, USA EA-18G, T-45, T-6B & warbirds
Aug 9-11 Abbotsford International Airshow, Abbotsford, BC, Canada A-4, F-18
Aug 17-18 Sioux Falls Airshow – South Dakota ANG, Joe Foss Field, SD, USA FJ-4B, F-18
Aug 24-25 Rochester International Airshow, Rochester, NY, USA F4U, T-6A
Aug 31-Sep 2 Cleveland National Airshow, Burke Lakefront Airshow, OH, USA F4U, F-18
Sep 7 Northern Illinois Airshow, Waukegan, IL, USA T-2, T-45
Sep 12-15 National Championship Air Races, Reno, NV, USA FJ-4B, F-18
Sep 21-22 NAS Oceana Airshow, Virginia Beach, VA, USA F4U, F-18
Oct 4-6 Great Pacific Airshow, Huntington Beach, CA, USA F8F, F-18
Oct 12-13 Atlanta Airshow, Hampton, GA, USA F4U, T-45
Oct 19-20 Wings Over Houston Airshow, Ellington, TX, USA F4U, EA-18G
Nov 1-3 Florida International Airshow, Punta Gorda, FL, USA F4U, T-6B
Nov 1-3 Stuart Airshow, Stuart, FL, USA F4U, T-6A

CF-18 Demo Team drop CIAS, add Atlantic Canada Int’l Airshow

GREENWOOD | The Royal Canadian Air Force’s F-18 Demo Team will no longer perform at the Canadian International Air Show in Toronto.

CIAS said the air force had decided to split their demonstration teams across two shows, scheduled for the same weekend, after the Red Arrows confirmed they would be appearing at the Toronto show.

They said that while they were “disappointed” to announce the change, they would “use the vacant jet block to bring you something you haven’t seen in a while,” adding: “Stand by for G!”

The Atlantic Canada International Airshow, which will be held at CFB Greenwood, NS, said the announcement was “huge news” and “a great addition to what is shaping up to be one of our more memorable editions of #AirShowATL.”

The CF-18 Demo Team is flying at a reduced number of airshows this year due to personnel shortages. The jet is not expected to wear a full special scheme.

The Atlantic Canada International Airshow will be held on the 30th August-1st September, featuring the US Navy Blue Angels.

City announces long-term plan to revive Gary Airshow

GARY | The city of Gary will host fundraisers, including small-scale air displays, over the next two years in an attempt to bring back their popular lakefront airshow.

The last few editions of the Gary Airshow have been cancelled due to lack of funds, including the 2018 show and one scheduled for this July, which was due to host the F-16C Viper Demo Team. The last successful airshow was held in 2016, featuring the Blue Angels.

The city will not be able to host a major jet team until 2021, but will spend the next two years laying the groundwork for the event. This year, there will be a small-scale airshow at Gary/Chicago International Airport, including ground activities and aerial displays. Officials are targeting the third weekend of August.

Next year the show will be brought back to Marquette Park, its traditional venue on the shore of Lake Michigan, featuring well-known airshow performers.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told The Chicago Crusader: ““In the midst of a financial recovery plan we started developing in 2018, we have made the decision to not host the larger event this year but to keep working and take steps toward securing strong sponsors and supporters of the city’s signature event in 2019, 2020 and 2021. With this approach, we feel confident that we will bring back one of the U.S. Military squadrons in 2021.”

US Air Force “loses confidence” in F-16 Demo pilot

SHAW AFB | This year’s USAF F-16C Demo Team pilot, Captain Zoe “SiS” Kotnik, was unexpectedly removed from her position on Monday 11th January.

Cpt. Kotnik was to be the USAF’s first female solo demonstration pilot. She was announced as this year’s pilot just two weeks ago.

Col. Derek O’Malley, Commander of the 20th Fighter Wing, said: “I removed Capt. Kotnik from her position as the commander of the Viper Demo team yesterday, because I lost confidence in her ability to lead the team.”

He suggested that Capt. Kotnik had made “mistakes”, but that she was a  “good person” and that he wanted her to have an opportunity to learn from her mistakes without being under public scrutiny. “They’ll be better for the experience, and in turn, we’ll be better as an Air Force,” he said.

“This will be a difficult time for Capt. Kotnik, but she’s surrounded by wingmen that will help her every step of the way.”

The ACC Aerial Events team said the Demo Team are working hard to minimize the impact of Capt. Kotnik’s departure on the team’s scheduled performances. However, the day after Capt. Kotnik’s replacement was announced, the team posted an updated schedule with the team’s participation at Sun ‘n Fun in Florida this April cancelled.

Maj. John “Rain” Waters, last year’s demonstration pilot, will return to fly this year’s displays.

Three Golden Knights parachutists injured in training accident

MIAMI | Three members of the US Army Golden Knights parachute team were injured during a parachute jump on Tuesday 12th January.

The accident occurred at around 04:00 at Homestead ARB near Miami. Three soldiers were injured and airlifted to the Jackson Memorial Hospital. On Wednesday the Golden Knights confirmed that two were in a critical condition, while the other sustained serious injuries. By Saturday, one been released from hospital, with the other two remaining critical but stable.

An official media release by US Army Recruiting Command said the soldiers were participating in a “routine night training operation”. Several media outlets are reporting they were performing a “halo jump” – freefalling from as high as 14,000 feet and opening their chutes at the last moment.

Homestead ARB is used by the Golden Knights for winter training and to introduce new members to the team.

The Golden Knights have thanked fans for “the outpouring of support and concern”. The accident is under investigation.