HUNTINGTON BEACH | The Great Pacific Airshow in Huntington Beach, Los Angeles, will see a triple jet team line up, thanks to the cancellation of the Puerto Rico International Airshow.
The Thunderbirds, who had previously been penned to fly in San Juan, will now head to Huntington Beach on the 4th-6th October, joining the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and RAF Red Arrows. It will be the only airshow in the US this year to feature three military jet aerobatic teams. The USAF’s F-35A and A-10C demonstration teams will also be performing at the show, which will also feature the Yak-110, Red Bull Air Force and US Navy F/A-18E Legacy Flight.
The change to the Thunderbirds’ schedule came about due to the cancellation of the Puerto Rico International Airshow earlier in the week. In a press release, organisers slammed the National Parks Service, which they say is responsible for the show’s cancellation.
The airshow organisers needed to use a small part of the San Cristobal Park for the show’s command and control center, but the agency had been unable to issue the required permit in time. The airshow said that they had answered all queries from the National Parks Service “adequately and completely” and made “numerous efforts to comply with their requests”, but that no specific guidelines or requirements had been made available to them. They also claimed that the National Parks Service would have benefitted greatly from the airshow, through an increase in paid admission to the airshow area.
David Schultz, president of the company tasked with producing the show, said: “Lack of urgency and understanding” on the part of the National Parks Service were the “defining and root causes” of the cancellation.
The Puerto Rico International Airshow had been due to feature the USAF Thunderbirds, US Army Golden Knights and the US Coast Guard. The event was planned as a tribute to nine airmen who died during relief efforts for Hurricane Maria. Upwards of 300,000 people were expected to attend the show.
SMITH | A pilot has died after a light aircraft crashed during a flying display for the Smith Fall Fair in Alberta, Canada.
Two aircraft were performing an aerobatic display at the annual festival and rodeo when one of the planes “disappeared”, according to CTV News. The downed aircraft – a Nanchang CJ-6 – was located an hour later, east of the town.
Officials said there was only one occupant, who was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. He has not been officially identified, but he is reportedly local to the area. The event had previously promoted an air display by Barry Pendrak Airshows, a local outfit headed by Barry Pendrak and his Steen Skybolt.
ST. LOUIS | The Spirit of St. Louis Airshow is to feature a rare airshow performance by the Boeing T-X advanced jet trainer.
Airshow organisers promised “a world exclusive you won’t want to miss”, but added that the exact times and dates are not yet confirmed. “We are working on logistics, and hope to have the day announced soon,” they said, suggesting that the jet may not fly on both days of the show.
The T-X previously performed flybys at Fair St. Louis in July 2018.
The Boeing T-X is a joint venture between the US aerospace giant Boeing and Sweden’s Saab group. It was one of four competitors in the US Air Force Advanced Pilot Training System program, and was selected as the winner in September last year. The US Air Force will eventually operate around 350 examples, replacing the T-38 Talon.
The T-X is a twin-tail single engine advanced jet trainer, powered by a General Electric F404 engine with afterburner.
The Spirit of St. Louis Airshow will be held on the 7th-8th September and will be headlined by the Blue Angels, Red Arrows and USAF F-22A Raptor. The event is sponsored by Boeing.
USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II demonstrations are about to get more exciting, as team’s jet gains a special paint scheme and is allowed to fly closer to the crowd.
On the 28th August, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base shared a video showing an A-10 with part-painted green camouflage and the caption “stay tuned”. Our friends at AirshowStuff.com have reported that the scheme is probably inspired by a WWII P-51 Mustang, and the aircraft is the 2020 A-10 Demo Team’s demonstration jet.
Later, AirshowStuff published exclusive photos from inside the paint shop, showing that the aircraft also wears D-Day invasion stripes.
The US-based airshow site also said that the A-10 Demo Team has recently been approved to fly in the “Category II” aerobatic box. There are three sizes of aerobatic box in the US – Category I (1,500ft of lateral separation from the crowd) for the fastest aircraft, an intermediate Category II box (1,000ft) and Category III (500ft) for smaller, slower planes.
This year, the team performed a full demonstration at AirVenture in Oshkosh, despite Oshkosh generally having only Category II and Category III boxes available. Other Category I performers were limited to non-aerobatic “mini-demonstrations”.
The change will allow the team to fly at venues without a Category I box available, and fly 500ft closer to the crowd at those that do.
NEW YORK | 19 military jets from four international demonstration teams performed a parade over the Statue of Liberty on Thursday 22nd August.
The nine BAE Hawk T.1As of the Red Arrows, currently touring North America, joined the six F-16s of the Thunderbirds, as well as two F-35A Lightning II jets from the USAF’s F-35 Demo Team and two F-22A Raptors of the Raptor Demo Team. The formation passed twice down the Hudson River, executing a turn over the Statue of Liberty.
The Blue Angels were also due to participate, but had to withdraw due to training requirements.
The Red Arrows, Blue Angels and F-35 will now go on to participate at the New York International Airshow the following weekend, with the Thunderbirds flying in Rochester, also in New York state.
HALIFAX | The Red Arrows join six other Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft for a joint flypast to kick-start the Red Arrows’ Western Hawk tour tomorrow.
The Red Arrows will fly over Halifax waterfront with one of their A400M Atlas support aircraft between 14:00-14:30 on Sunday 11th August. It will be the Red Arrows’ first public appearance in North America since 2008.
Five RCAF aircraft will also take part: a CP-140 Aurora, CC-130 Hercules, CH-146 Griffon, CH-148 Cyclone and CH-149 Cormorant.
The event will be followed on Tuesday 13th August with a flypast over Parliament Hill in Ottawa and an aerobatic display at the AERO Gatineau airshow on the same day. They will also be performing at the Canadian International Airshow in Toronto and will stage a further “enhanced flypast” over Toronto next month.
The International Council of Air Shows have tentatively announced the start of a new military demonstration team for the 2020 season, but the US Navy deny an announcement has been made.
Taking to social media, ICAS said that the US Navy have been given the green light to perform aerobatic demonstrations at eight to ten shows next year with the F-35C Lightning II. The F-35C is the largest variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and the only one not to have been put through its paces on the airshow circuit.
The US Navy quickly responded to the tweet, saying: “The Navy has made no such announcement.”
The demonstration team plan to make an official announcement at the ICAS Convention this December, ICAS said.
US Navy officials are poised to axe the remainder of the TACDEMO team’s 2019 season, after a premature announcement on Facebook saying all remaining shows had been cancelled.
The team is scheduled to display the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at eight venues across the USA this year, with five shows still to come. However, the display is drawn from VFA-106 squadron, who are primarily tasked with training new Super Hornet crews.
In a statement, the squadron said: “As the East Coast Super Hornet Fleet Replacement Squadron, the mission of VFA-106 is to provide the fleet with superbly trained replacement aircrew to support fleet readiness. This mission will always take priority over displaying the remarkable Super Hornet across the country.
“While unfortunate, the remainder of the TACDEMO schedule for 2019 has been cancelled. Our dedicated, volunteer, air crew and maintainers must focus their efforts on training the next generation of Super Hornet aviators and flight officers.”
However, the Navy Times said officials had confirmed that discussions had taken place, but that no decision had been made and that the announcement was made prematurely.
VFA-106 said that they appreciated the support they have received so far this year and that they “remain optimistic” that they will return to the circuit in 2020 – but they have already flown a reduced schedule in recent years due to operational requirements.
VFA-122’s Tailhook Legacy Team will continue to fly the rest of their season schedule.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH | This November’s NSB Balloon and Skyfest has been cancelled by organisers due to a lack of community support.
The organisers said that the primary aim of the airshow is to raise funds for veterans charities. In a statement, they said: “We had hoped to gain support from the community by way of sponsorships and donations to insure we would reach our objectives. Without this backing we are unable to move ahead with the event.
“All of us on the festival team love our town, aviation and helping our community. Thank you so much for your support and encourage you to continue to support our Veterans who have served to protect our country and the freedom their service gives us.”
The NSB Skyfest, first staged in 2008, was due to be held on the 8th-10th November this year, headlined by the Aeroshell aerobatic team.
PENSACOLA | The US Navy has confirmed that the Blue Angels’ latest support aircraft will be an ex-Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules.
Photo: David Leadingham
The team’s ageing C-130T was retired earlier this year, after several years of maintenance problems and fleet groundings, with rumours circulating that the Navy may pursue a British Hercules to replace the much-loved plane.
The Navy confirmed on Monday that they have signed a $30 million deal with the UK Ministry of Defence to purchase a surplus C-130 – less than half the cost of buying an entirely new aircraft, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
The C-130J variant will also offer greater capacity and better maneuverability than the C-130T, which could lead to enhanced aerial demonstrations if the new plane becomes part of the show.
The aircraft will be delivered in spring 2020.