Category Archives: Airshow News America

Fatal GEICO Skytypers accident during Great Pocono Raceway Airshow training flight

SCRANTON | An aircraft from the GEICO Skytypers has crashed fatally shortly after taking off from Wilkes Barre/Scranton Airport, Pennsylvania today (Friday 20th August).

The aircraft, an SNJ-2, was taking part in practice displays for the Great Pocono Raceway Airshow, due to be held on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd August.

In a statement, the airshow organisers said: “It is with heavy hearts we can confirm the passing of a pilot with the GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team following an incident at the AVP Airport in Avoca, PA.”

The GEICO Skytypers later confirmed that the pilot involved was Andy Travnicek, a commercial pilot and former C-5 Galaxy pilot with the US Air Force. He had been flying the #3 aircraft.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy and his family at this time,” the team said.

As well as skytyping, the GEICO Skytypers perform a six-ship formation display at airshows across the northern and eastern United States every year. They are one of the country’s best-known civilian airshow teams.

The Great Pocono Raceway Airshow, which is due to feature the USAF Thunderbirds, will proceed as planned this weekend. Organisers said the decision to proceed with the show was taken with the support of the GEICO Skytypers. The Skytypers are no longer listed as a performer on the show’s website.

The team were due to fly at four more airshows this year: the New York Airshow, Cleveland National Airshow, the Lockheed Martin Air & Space Show in Sanford and Warbirds Over Monroe. It is not clear how their schedule will be affected.

Viper Demo Team pilot unable to fly after mountain biking accident

The US Air Force’s F-16 demonstration pilot has been left unable to fly for between six and nine weeks after being involved in a mountain biking accident, the team has announced.

Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, who became the Viper Demo Team’s display pilot in 2019, wrote on Instagram, said that he is expected to make a full recovery and should be able to return to the team before the end of the current airshow season.

He said: “For those who haven’t heard, I got in a fairly serious accident last week while mountain biking. I had a front wheel catch while on a downhill trail, flipped over the front of my handle bars, and flew into a couple trees.

“The end results were about as good as I could hope for with an accident like that. Some minor fractures in my back, a few fractured ribs, and a bunch of scrapes and bruises. The back fractures won’t have any lasting affect other than being painful for the next few weeks.”

The post suggests that the team will be unable to perform until at least the end of September, missing events such as the Owensboro Airshow, Tarkio’s Greatest Little Airshow, Airshow London, Aero Gatineau-Ottawa and Wendover Wings & Wheels. The team’s final performance of the year is not scheduled until November.

However, the Viper Demo Team said that the Air Combat Command is “currently working to ensure that all scheduled Viper Demo Team performances are supported with ACC assets.”

US Navy EA-18G Growler Legacy Flight 2021 schedule

The US Navy’s EA-18G Growler Legacy Flight team have released their 2021 airshow schedule, with ten shows listed.

As there is no official Growler demonstration team, the aircraft will not present a fully aerobatic display profile. However, it will perform formation flypasts with historic aircraft, along with a short mini-demonstration consisting of non-aerobatic flybys.

The warbirds which will participate in the Legacy Flight at each location have not been announced. The EA-18 will come from VAQ-129 at NAS Whidby Island.

Date Show Location Country
May 15-16 United States Great Florida Airshow Melbourne USA (FL)
Jun 5-6 United States Great Tennessee Airshow Smyrna USA (TN)
Jun 19-20 United States Moses Lake Airshow Moses Lake USA (WA)
Jul 3-4 United States Gig Harbor Wings & Wheels Gig Harbor USA (WA)
Jul 28-31 United States EAA AirVenture Oshkosh USA (WI)
Aug 7-8 United States Thunder Over Michigan Ypsilanti USA (MI)
Aug 21-22 Canada Edmonton Airshow Edmonton Canada (AB)
Oct 1-3 United States Great Pacific Airshow Huntington Beach USA (CA)
Oct 16-17 United States Central Florida Air & Space Show Orlando USA (FL)
Oct 30-31 United States Wings Over North Georgia Rome USA (GA)

Paint scheme and theme revealed for Canadian CF-18 Demo Team

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 Demo Team has revealed the theme and paint scheme for the 2021 display season.

Adopting a new scheme each year, the team have chosen the theme “Strong at Home” for 2021, paying tribute to the “strength and resiliance” of Canadian Armed Forces personnel during the pandemic.

The muted two-tone grey scheme to represent the air force’s operational readiness. Special markings, in the form of an eagle’s head, are applied only to the tail. The feathers of the eagle are composed of maple leaves. A total of eight leaves represent the nine Snowbirds, with one missing to pay tribute to all who were lost over the past year.

The inner surface of the tails feature a large maple leaf and list the RCAF’s 12 domestic operations. #StrongAtHome decals have been applied towards the front of the aircraft.

You can see the team’s 2021 schedule here.

Complete list of pilots competing in World Championship Air Race Aero/GP1 series revealed

SYWELL | The World Championship Air Race – the successor to the Red Bull Air Race – has announced the complete line up of Aero/GP1 pilots due to take part in 2022’s debut season.

12 teams will compete in WCAR’s top tier of competition next year, with seven former Masterclass pilots taking to the track and five former Challengers. Between nine and twelve more pilots, all of whom are yet to be announced, will compete in the Aero/GT feeder series, including several who are new to the sport.


May be an image of 1 person, standing, outdoors and textAustralia #95 MATT HALL   MATT HALL RACING

Reigning World Champion Matt Hall of Australia will be the pilot for Newcastle-based team Matt Hall Racing. A former Royal Australian Air Force fighter pilot, Hall joined the Red Bull Air Race in 2009, finishing third in his debut season. He was the championship runner-up in 2015, 2016 and 2018, and World Champion in 2019. He has accumulated seven wins and 25 podiums, making him the most successful pilot due to compete in Aero/GP1. The 49-year-old has hinted he will only spend one or two seasons as Matt Hall Racing’s pilot before shifting to the Team Principle role and hiring in a younger replacement.

May be an image of 1 person and textCzech Republic #8 MARTIN SONKA

Taking part in his first race in 2010, Martin Sonka, 43, is a well-known Czech competition aerobatics and airshow pilot. He also served for over a decade with the Czech Air Force, flying the L-159 ALCA and JAS-39 Gripen. As well as winning the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in 2018, Sonka has six race wins and 16 podiums to his name.

May be an image of 1 person, standing, aircraft, outdoors and text Japan #31 YOSHI MUROYA

The only Asian pilot ever to compete in the Masterclass, Muroya joined the Red Bull Air Race in 2009. It took several years for the Japanese pilot, now 48, to get into the groove, finishing near the bottom of the standings for his debut seasons. His first emotional win came at his home race in Chiba in 2016, and he took the World Championship title the following year. He came second in the 2019 standings, despite winning three out of the four races. In total, he has won eight races and finished on the podium at 14.

May be an image of 1 person, car and textUnited Kingdom #24 BEN MURPHY   THE BLADES RACING TEAM

Representing the United Kingdom will be the Blades Racing Team, with pilot Ben Murphy. Murphy, 45, is a former leader of the Royal Air Force Red Arrows who now flies as part of the Blades Display Team. Joining the Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class in 2016, he finished sixth overall in his first two seasons before graduating to the Masterclass for the 2018 season. He has since become the sport’s best-performing Challenger graduate, finishing fourth overall in 2019, with one podium finish to his name.

The Team Principle is another former Red Arrows leader, United Kingdom ANDY OFFER, who has served in this position since the team was formed at the start of the 2018 season.

May be an image of 1 person, motorcycle and text Canada #84 PETE MCLEOD

Pete McLeod, 37, is a professional aerobatic pilot who joined the Red Bull Air Race in 2009, making him the youngest competitor at the time. Despite having won one race and claimed 12 podiums, McLeod has typically finished each season towards the middle of the rankings. His best overall results saw him placed fourth in 2019 and third in 2017. Outside of the race, McLeod flies a variety of aircraft, including float planes, and is active on the North American airshow circuit.

May be an image of 1 person and text France #11 MIKAEL BRAGEOT   #11RACING TEAM

Mika Brageot, 33, is an acclaimed French aerobatic pilot who joined the Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class in 2014. Mentored by 2014 Masterclass World Champion Nigel Lamb, Brageot won the Challenger Class in 2015. In 2016, he joined the Masterclass, inheriting Lamb’s race team and aircraft. He has achieved one Masterclass podium and a career-best result of fourth in the 2018 standings. He is likely to be the only pilot competing in WCAR with an MXS-Racer, rather than an Edge 540.

May be an image of 1 personSpain #26 JUAN VELARDE

The final Masterclass pilot to join the series is Spain’s Juan Velarde, 46. An airshow pilot and A330 captain with Iberia, he joined the Challenger Class in 2014, where he finished eighth. Despite that, he graduated to the Masterclass the following year, and in 2016 began racing Paul Bonhomme’s triple-world-championship-winning Edge 540. He has accumulated two Masterclass podiums and has a career-best result of eighth in the end-of-season standings.

May be an image of 1 person, standing and text that says "HART HARTZELL FLORIAN BÉRGER AeroGP1 Pilot"Germany #62 FLORIAN BERGER   MATTHIAS DOLDERER RACING TEAM

A 32-year-old Lufthansa pilot flying the Airbus A320, Berger was taught to fly aerobatics at Matthias Dolderer’s flight school and joined the Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class in 2015. He is the most successful Challenger in history, winning the series three times (2016, 2017 and 2019) and coming second in 2018. He has nine race wins and 16 podiums from just 23 race starts.

May be an image of 1 person and textBerger will race for Matthias Dolderer Racing under team principle Germany MATTHIAS DOLDERER. Dolderer, also from Germany, joined the Red Bull Air Race in 2009. In 2016, he became the first Red Bull Air Race pilot in history to win the World Championship before the final race of the season. More recently, Dolderer seems to have struggled to match his 2016 successes, finishing towards the bottom of the standings in 2018 and 2019. Dolderer himself will not fly in WCAR.

May be an image of 1 person and textUnited States #48 KEVIN COLEMAN

Former Red Bull Air Race Challenger pilot Kevin Coleman will also move to Aero/GP1, and at the age of 30, he will be the youngest pilot in his class. A regular on the US airshow circuit, Coleman has received mentorship in the air race from fellow Texan Kirby Chambliss. Joining in 2016, Coleman finished third in his debut season, and third again in both 2018 and 2019. He has three wins and 12 podiums from 19 races.

May be an image of 1 person, standing and textFrance United Kingdom #33 MELANIE ASTLES

Melanie Astles will be the first woman to participate in the top-tier of the air race. Living in France, but born in the UK, Astles, 38, is the reigning British Unlimited Aerobatic Champion as of May 2021. She joined the Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class in 2016 and has since claimed five podiums, including one win. She was second overall in the 2019 standings.

May be an image of 1 person, standing and text Italy #32 DARIO COSTA

Dario Costa joined the Red Bull Air Race in 2013 as the sport’s Flight Operations Manager. A flight instructor and aerobatics pilot himself, the 40-year-old Italian qualified to compete in the Challenger Class in 2016, racing for the first time in 2018. He has since taken two podiums, including one win, from seven race starts, and his career best season result is fifth. Along with Patrick Davidson, he will be the least experienced race pilot in the Aero/GP1 category.

May be an image of 1 person and textSouth Africa #77 PATRICK DAVIDSON

Another relative newcomer to the sport, Davidson also joined the Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class in 2018 and has taken part in seven races. Despite not having won a single race, he has claimed four podiums and shares Costa’s career-best season result of fifth place. Davidson entered – and won – his first aerobatic competition at the age of just 12, and has been a prolific airshow and competition aerobatic pilot since adulthood.


With the top tier of air racing shrinking from 14 to 12 athletes, and incorporating several new graduates from the Challenger Class, it is inevitable that there are some noticable omissions. Old versions of WCAR’s website stated in 2020 that all 14 existing Red Bull Air Race Masterclass teams had expressed an interest in competing in the new sport, and it is not known whether some of these teams later withdrew their interest or if they were rejected by WCAR at the pilot selection stage.

No longer racing are Americans Kirby Chambliss and Michael Goulian or Frenchman Nicholas Ivanoff, all of whom were rumoured to be close to retirement before the collapse of the Red Bull Air Race. All three had been with the sport for many years and had seemingly struggled to achieve consistent results in recent seasons, however Goulian put in an unusually strong performance in 2018, finishing the year ranked third.

Two up-and-coming Masterclass pilots have also been dropped. Czech racer Petr Kopfstein, who won the debut Challenger Cup series in 2014 and joined the Masterclass in 2016, will not race in WCAR, at least for 2022, despite having a career-best season result of fifth. Former World Aerobatic Champion Francois Le Vot, who joined the Challenger Class in 2014 and the Masterclass in 2015, has also not been retained. He had never finished a race season ranked higher than 11th.

Chilean pilot and former Halcones team leader Cristian Bolton, who, after three full Masterclass seasons, has never finished higher than 12th overall, has not been selected either.

Of the biggest surprises in the Aero/GP1 class is the absence of Swedish pilot Daniel Ryfa, one of the most successful Challenger pilots in history, second only to Berger. With eight race wins and 19 podiums to his name, he was four times the runner-up in the end-of-season standings. It would be hugely surprising to see much less experienced and less decorated Challengers like Davidson and Costa graduate to Aero/GP1 ahead of Ryfa, perhaps suggesting that the Swede has left the sport.


There are still a minimum of nine and a maximum of twelve pilot places that remain unannounced, which will make up the Aero/GT class: a feeder competition for less experienced pilots, racing in a Le Mans-style relay format.

Many of those spots will likely be taken by the seven remaining pilots who made up the 2019 Challenger Class: Kenny Chiang, Sammy Mason, Luke Czepiela, Patrick Strasser, Baptiste Vignes, Vito Wyprachtiger and possibly also Daniel Ryfa. However, there will also have to be at least two entirely new faces – and possibly many more than that.

Series Director Willie Cruickshank told This is Flight in March that all WCAR applicants were holders of Red Bull Air Race licenses. This means other potential Aero/GT contenders will be pilots who had already qualified to take part in the Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class, but were either yet to race or bowed out before progressing to the Masterclass.

More news is on the way, including the identities of Aero/GT Team Principles, which will be announced soon. This could include well-known ex-Red Bull Air Race competitors.


Pilots were selected in March 2021 by a panel of officials and experts, such as former World Champion Paul Bonhomme and the Red Bull Air Race’s Head Judge, Steve Jones.

Of course, race officials will be looking at more than just results when considering who gets a place in WCAR’s opening season. Competition bosses likely considered the technical and financial viability of a pilot’s team, their safety culture, the potential longevity of their racing careers and their ability to bring fans to the sport, among many other factors.

However, WCAR will have less of a say in who races in their sport in the future, as pilots will ultimately be hired and fired by the various Team Principles during an annual transfer window. All Aero/GP1 pilots will have to be suitably qualified (a process now controlled by WCAR), but it may not be out of the question for a former Red Bull racer to be roped in to fly in future seasons, or for some of them to return as Team Principles themselves.

For more about WCAR, read our exclusive interview with Series Director Willie Cruickshank.

These are the eight shows which have lost the USAF F-35 Demo Team

Following last week’s announcement that the USAF F-35A Lightning II Demo Team’s show season will be cut back by more than a third, an update to Air Combat Command’s airshow calendar indicates which airshows have been dropped from the schedule.

Nine shows have been dropped due to a fleet-wide shortage of engines, which are apparently exceeding their design limits when in use. This has led to a shorter engine life and more calls for replacement parts and repairs. The reduction in airshow flights will avoid exacerbating the problem, and help ensure that the fleet’s operational readiness is not affected.

These are the nine shows which will no longer be featuring the Demo Team this year:

United States COCOA BEACH AIRSHOW, COCOA BEACH, 17th-18th APR | The F-35A Lightning II has been replaced with the F-22A Raptor. The airshow is also due to be headlined by the Thunderbirds.

United States HANGAR 24 SBD AIR FEST, REDLANDS, 15th-16th MAY | The airshow was due to be headlined by the F-35, but the event has been cancelled entirely.

United States OREGON INT’L AIRSHOW, HILLSBORO, 21st-23rd MAY | The airshow was due to be headlined by the F-35, but the event has been cancelled entirely.

United States GREAT TENNESSEE AIRSHOW, SMYRNA, 5th-6th JUN | The F-35A Lightning II has been cancelled with no replacement scheduled. The airshow is due to be headlined by the Thunderbirds.

United States DEKE SLAYTON AIRFEST, LA CROSSE, 12th-13th JUN | The F-35A Lightning II has been cancelled with no replacement scheduled. The airshow is due to be headlined by the Blue Angels.

United States OWENSBORO AIRSHOW, OWENSBORO, 14th-15th AUG | The F-35A Lightning II has been replaced with the F-16C Fighting Falcon. The airshow is due to be headlined by the Blue Angels.

Canada VOLARIA AERONAUTICS FESTIVAL, MONTREAL, 18th-19th SEP | The F-35A Lightning II has been cancelled with no replacement scheduled. The airshow is due to be headlined by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and CF-118A Hornet.

United States CENTRAL FLORIDA AIR & SPACE SHOW, SANFORD, 16th-17th OCT | The F-35A Lightning II has been cancelled with no replacement scheduled. The airshow is due to be headlined by the Thunderbirds.

United States BLUE ANGELS HOMECOMING, PENSACOLA, 5th-6th NOV | The F-35A Lightning II has been cancelled with no replacement scheduled. The airshow is due to be headlined by the Blue Angels.

Additionally, the team’s schedule still includes the Planes of Fame Airshow in Chino this May, despite the event having been postponed to October. It is not clear whether any of the ACC demonstration teams will participate in the rescheduled show.

Airshows still due to feature the F-35 Demo Team are the Atlanta Airshow, Gig Harbor Wings & Wheels, the Tri-City Water Follies, Arctic Lightning Airshow, Thunder Over Michigan, Chicago Air & Water Show, Canadian International Air Show, California Capital Airshow, Great Pacific Airshow and Los Angeles County Airshow.

F-35 Demo Team schedule cut back following fleet-wide engine problems

The US Air Force’s F-35A Lightning Demo Team will have around eight shows axed from their 2021 airshow schedule following fleet-wide engine problems, according to Bloomberg.

Engines on the F-35A have been found to be running closer than expected to their design limits, causing cracks and delamination of the engines’ turbine blade coating. This is requiring early engine repairs and replacements, despite new engines already being in short supply, Bloomberg reported.

As a result, the F-35 Demo Team’s activities will be scaled back to avoid aggrevating the situation. It is not yet clear which shows will be dropped, but the Great Tennessee Airshow has already replaced the F-35 Demo Team with the F-16 Demo Team on its website. AirshowStuff reports that other Air Combat Command demonstration teams – namely the F-16C, A-10C and F-22A – will fill in for the F-35 at events it can no longer attend.

The fleet-wide engine problems are not said to be a safety concern, and have not affected the fleet’s operational readiness.

Ground-breaking all-female edition of Oregon International Airshow postponed to 2022

HILLSBORO | A ground-breaking all-female edition of the Oregon International Airshow due to be held in Hillsboro this May has been postponed to 2022.

The airshow, which was the first of two events planned by the Oregon International Airshow this year, was cancelled out of “an abundance of caution, to provide the safest environment possible for our guests, performers, volunteers and everyone in the community,” organisers said. This is despite organisers admitting that the environment for large outdoor events is likely to be improving by the intended show dates of the 21st-22nd May.

Organisers also attempted to move the show to a date later in 2021, but said they were unsuccessful in finding dates that worked. Most of North America’s military airshow performers have already finalised busy 2021 schedules, making it difficult to reschedule a major event.

The airshow in Hillsboro was to be an all-female affair, with exclusively female performers, commentators and air boss – a feat which organisers said was a world first. Performers were due to include the US Air Force’s F-35A Demo Team.

The theme was initially planned for the Oregon International Airshow 2020 in Hillsboro – also cancelled because of the coronavirus – and organisers decided to roll the event back to 2021 in addition to their already-planned conventional airshow in McMinnville. The McMinnville show will be held on the 30th July and 1st August 2021, featuring the US Air Force Thunderbirds and F-22A Raptor Demo Team, and is still expected to go ahead.

As with this year, postponing Hillsboro’s all-women show now means that two Oregon International Airshows are planned for 2022. The twice-postponed Hillsboro event will take place on an unconfirmed weekend in May, and will retain its all-women theme, while a show at McMinnville will take place on the 20th-21st August, featuring the US Navy Blue Angels. It will be the Blue Angels’ first display in the state for seven years.

Ticket holders for the May 2021 show have three options, according to the airshow website: use the ticket at the May 2022 event, exchange it for tickets to the July/August 2021 show in McMinnville, or request a refund.

Thunderbirds schedule shake-up: two shows added to team’s 2021 calendar

Two new airshows have been added to the USAF Thunderbirds’ 2021 airshow schedule, with one filling the gap left by a cancelled event.

The OC Airshow in Ocean City, Maryland, will feature the Thunderbirds for the second year running, following the cancellation of the Star-Spangled Salute at Tinker AFB on the same date. Ocean City was one of the few venues to welcome the Thunderbirds in 2020, and the first major seafront airshow since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Scheduled for the 19th-20th June 2021, it will also feature the F-22 Raptor and GEICO Skytypers.

Also added to the team’s schedule is the Greater Binghamton Airshow in New York state, filling a previously open slot on the 17th-18th July. Last held in 2014 and 2018, the Greater Binghamton Airshow had been due to return in July 2020, but was postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Little was known about the rescheduled event until today’s announcement.

The Thunderbirds have two further open dates on their schedule, caused by the cancellation of Gowen Thunder on the 28th-29th August and and the Westfield Airshow, cancelled earlier this week, on the 14th-15th August. Further schedule changes are likely as the pandemic continues to affect the 2021 airshow season.

The team’s schedule, as of the 29th January 2021, is as follows:

Date Show Location Country
Apr 17-18 United States Cocoa Beach Airshow Cocoa Beach USA (FL)
Apr 24-25 United States Davis-Monthan AFB: Thunder & Lightning Over Arizona Tuscon USA (AZ)
May 1-2 United States Sound of Speed Airshow St. Joseph USA (MO)
May 8-9 United States Barksdale AFB: Defenders of Liberty Airshow Shreveport USA (LA)
May 30-31 United States Bethpage Airshow Jones Beach USA (NY)
Jun 5-6 United States The Great Tennessee Air Show Smyrna USA (TN)
Jun 12-13 United States Fairchild AFB: Inland Northwest Skyfest Spokane USA (WA)
Jun 19-20 United States Tinker AFB: Star Spangled Salute Air & Space Show Oklahoma City USA (OK)
Jun 19-20 United States OC Airshow Ocean City USA (MD)
Jul 3-4 United States National Cherry Festival Airshow Traverse City USA (MI)
Jul 10-11 United States Dayton Airshow Dayton USA (OH)
Jul 17-18 United States Greater Binghamton Airshow Binghamton USA (NY)
Jul 24-25 United States Milwaukee Air & Water Show Milwaukee USA (WI)
Jul 28 United States F E Warren AFB: Cheyenne Frontier Days Cheyenne USA (WY)
Jul 31-Aug 1 United States Oregon International Air Show McMinnville USA (OR)
Aug 14-15 United States Barnes ARGB: Westfield International Airshow Springfield USA (MA)
Aug 18 United States Thunder Over the Boardwalk Atlantic City USA (NJ)
Aug 28-29 United States Gowen Thunder Open House & Airshow Boise USA (ID)
Sep 4-6 United States Cleveland National Airshow Cleveland USA (OH)
Sep 11-12 United States Pease Open House Newington USA (NH)
Sep 18-19 United States National Championship Air Races Reno USA (NV)
Sep 15-16 United States California Capital Airshow Sacramento USA (CA)
Oct 2-3 Puerto Rico Puerto Rican Aerial Extravaganza Cieba Puerto Rico
Oct 9-10 United States Wings Over Houston Houston USA (TX)
Oct 16-17 United States Central Florida Air & Space Show Sanford USA (FL)
Oct 23-24 United States Los Angeles County Airshow Lancaster USA (CA)
Oct 30-31 United States California Int’l Airshow Salinas USA (CA)

Five graphs that chart the creeping cancellation of the 2021 airshow season

With over 30 airshow cancellations already official in 2021, we’ve been crunching the numbers to try and establish which shows have been cancelling first, where they are located, and why they have felt the need to pull the plug.

So far, the United States has had by far the highest number of cancellations, although this is to be expected given the United States has more airshows than any other country, and a relatively early start to the airshow season.

The United Kingdom has already seen two postponements from June to September, with more likely to follow. In a small country with a large number of airshows, emergency services, events companies, airshow professionals and vital resources such as fencing could be so thinly spread in the second half of the season that non-coronavirus cancellations follow.

A month-by-month analysis reveals some surprises. Despite the spring being a busy time for United States airshows, which currently face a pandemic which is raging out of control, April ties with June as the months with the most North American airshow cancellations. Even more surprisingly, only a single postponement is registered for the busy month of May, even as events in the safer months of August and September begin pulling the plug.

The pattern is much more predictable in Europe, where June – the first busy month of the airshow season – sees the bulk of the cancellations, and late-season shows continue to cling to a realistic chance of proceeding as planned.

Globally, it is military-run and trade-oriented airshows that have been the most likely to cancel so far this year. This is hardly surprising, as exposing active service members to large public crowds has obvious drawbacks. Military airshows in Europe also face additional complications, as they generally rely heavily on international contributions from neighbouring air forces, which may well be restricted.

Trade airshows have also been hard hit, with almost every trade show scheduled before July having been cancelled. This is because these events rely on very large volumes international visitors, and the relaxation of international travel restrictions cannot be guaranteed.

This is broadly in line with what we saw in 2020, when not a single trade airshow and just one military-run public airshow was held in western Europe and North America beyond April. The vast majority of airshows that went ahead were small, civilian airshows, with a small handful of larger events taking place in US states with particularly relaxed restrictions.

There does not seem to be a pattern to how early airshows are cancelled because of coronavirus, but the figures are interesting nonetheless. So far, some airshows have been cancelled up to a year early, while the shortest notice given is approximately six weeks. The majority of lost or delayed airshows have been cancelled or postponed with five months’ notice or more. Trade airshows have generally given the most notice of their cancellation, as these events require the most forward planning on the part of exhibitors and visitors.

European airshows have on average been cancelled much earlier than North American ones as it stands, but this is probably because the European airshow season starts later in the year and there hasn’t yet been a chance for last-minute cancellations. Expect these figures to change as the airshow season draws closer, as some last-minute cancellations are overwhelmingly likely.

Many cancelled airshows announced the reason for this decision in statements and social media posts, and an analysis of these is particularly revealing, with strongly differing reasons for event cancellations depending on their region.

North American airshows – particularly military-run airshows – usually cite the safety of visitors and service members as the primary reason for cancellation, but only one European airshow has done so. Four North American airshows also listed current or anticipated coronavirus regulations as a primary reason for cancellation, compared to only one in Europe. Meanwhile, most European airshow cancellations have been due to uncertainty regarding the overall path of the pandemic, which is only cited twice in the United States.

This probably reflects two key factors: firstly, in the United States, there is a far greater confidence that the pandemic is almost at an end (as, indeed, there has been since spring 2020), compared to a growing fear on the other side of the Atlantic that the disease could rage out of control for many months to come. Secondly, the figures reflect the fact that North American airshows have so far been cancelled later on average than European airshows. Most of the European 2021 airshow cancellations we’ve seen have been triggered by organisers who don’t want to risk organising an event that may later have to be cancelled, whereas in recent weeks we have seen a spate of North American cancellations from organisers who tried to hold on until the bitter end. Plenty of European airshow organisers are currently taking the same gamble, so expect the number of European cancellations due to health risks or virus restrictions to rise in April, May and June.

This aviation brinkmanship will likely be exacerbated on both sides of the Atlantic by an apparent lack of socially-distant event formats in 2021. Although last year saw a number of new airshow formats being successfully trialled, airshow organisers have seemed reluctant to adopt them (only a single large drive-in airshow has currently been confirmed in North America this year, for example – down from over half a dozen in 2020).

Filtering the same data based on the type of show, rather than the region, also produces interesting patterns. Military airshows have, on average, cited a greater vatiety of reasons for cancellation than civilian-run airshows, and are eight times more likely than civilian-run airshows to list health risks as a reason for cancellation. Across the board, uncertainty is the biggest cause of airshow cancellations across all categories.

In the short term, we’re overwhelmingly likely to see a huge increase in airshow cancellations in the United States, which is currently battling an unprecedented 3,500-4,000 coronavirus deaths per day. There are still at least seven airshows planned to go ahead in April, and around 20 in May, many of which are clearly unlikely to proceed. We’re also likely to see more early-season European airshows at the same time.

It is still possible – although unlikely – that the pandemic is broadly under control by early summer, in which case much of the airshow season could proceed as planned. Certainly, it is overwhelmingly likely that the experience gained in 2020 will allow for a busier airshow season than we were able to enjoy last year. Exactly how the coming months will pan out, however, is impossible to predict.

For more information about how airshow organisers are dealing with coronavirus, including alternative, socially-responsible event format options, read our special report here. For more information about how this data was compiled, see below.

List of cancelled/postponed airshows accurate as of 28/01/20. Events that take place in multiple months are listed with the month during which the show starts.
Regions covered: North America (USA, Canada & Mexico), Europe (EEA & UK only), Pacific (Australia & New Zealand only). Airshows outside of these regions are often low-profile and low in quantity, making meaningful data collection impossible.
Some airshows may fall into more than one category (for example, military-run trade shows).

Definition of airshow postponements: Airshows once advertised as taking place at a specified date in 2021, now due to take place at a later date in 2021.Airshows may record between zero and two primary reasons for cancellation, depending on statements released at the time.
Definition of airshow cancellations: Airshows once advertised as taking place in 2021, which are no longer due to take place this year. This includes airshows postponed to 2022 and beyond.
Events not included: Very small airshows; air displays held as part of other events which are not standalone airshows; airshows which, contrary to tradition or expectation, were never officially confirmed to be going ahead in 2021; airshows which were clearly cancelled or postponed for other reasons not related to coronavirus.