Category Archives: Airshow News America

US Navy to launch F-35C demonstrations in 2020, say ICAS

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 Super Hornet Tactical Demonstrations cancelled for 2019 season

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 Skyfest grounded due to lack of support

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.

Blue Angels’ “Fat Albert” replacement will be British C-130J

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.

Wings Over North Georgia Airshow cancelled for 2019

ROME, GA | The Wings Over North Georgia Airshow has been officially cancelled, but will return in 2020.

The airshow organisers confirmed today that this year’s event, scheduled for the 31st August-1st September, has been called off. No reason was given in the official media advisory.

The event was due to be headlined by the USAF F-16C Viper Demo Team and the Aeroshell aerobatic team, but no jet aerobatic team was scheduled to fly. The Thunderbirds will headline next year’s show, which will take place on the 24th-25th October.

At previous events, the Thunderbirds have operated from a remote location due to the size of the runway at Rome. With extension works due to be completed before the 2020 show, the Thunderbirds will stage out of Richard B. Russel Regional Airport for the first time. The organisers say this will provide “a better experience for air show spectators and the jet demonstration team.”

Tickets for the 2019 show will be refunded by ETIX and other fees, such as camping bookings, will be repaid by the airshow office.

Red Bull pulls the plug on the Red Bull Air Race

The Red Bull Air Race will wrap up for good after an abbreviated 2019 season, it was announced today.

In a surprise announcement, the Air Race said that “Red Bull has decided not to continue the Red Bull Air Race World Championship beyond the 2019 season.”

They added: “The Red Bull Air Race provided sports entertainment of highest quality but did not attract the level of outside interest as many other Red Bull events across the world. Red Bull thanks the pilots, their teams, partners, the host cities as well as the Red Bull employees for all they have done to make these enjoyable and memorable events.”

Just four of the eight planned races will go ahead this year: the Abu Dhabi round, which has already been staged, Kazan, Russia June 15-16), Lake Balaton, Hungary (13-14 July) and Chiba, Japan (7-8 September). Planned races in the USA and Saudi Arabia have been dropped.

Confirming the American race had been cancelled, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said they and their fans would be “disappointed” not to host the air race again. “We enjoyed watching the pilots navigate the unique course over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grounds,” they said. “We were especially excited to see American pilot Michael Goulian celebrate a well-earned victory last year.”

Customers who have already purchased tickets will receive a refund.

Martin Sonka, the 2018 World Champion, was the first pilot to comment online, describing the announcement as “really sad news” and indicating he had only heard of the decision earlier that day.

In a statement, Matt Hall Racing said: “While disappointed that a sport, which had significant potential to succeed, will be no longer, Matt Hall Racing express their gratitude to Red Bull for the opportunity to compete at the top level of aviation for the past eight seasons.”

The unique motorsport, which began in 2003, sees a selection of elite pilot flying highly-modified raceplanes around a course of inflatable pylons. More than 90 races have taken place around the world, in locations as diverse as Longleat in the UK, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the USA and the Swan River in Perth, Australia.

Storms & floods cause havoc in May for US airshows

JEFFERSON, MO | The Salute to Veterans Airshow in Jefferson City, MO, has become the latest US airshow this month to be blighted by bad weather.

The airshow, scheduled for this weekend (25th-26th May), has been called off as the airport is at risk of being flooded. On Tuesday, pilots began moving aircraft off the airport as the Missouri River is predicted to surge two feet higher than the “major flood” level in the coming days.

On Wednesday night, Jefferson City was also hit by a violent tornado, leaving thousands without power and causing widespread damage.

It is at least the third show this month to face complete or partial cancellation, after the Legends in Flight Airshow at JB Andews, MD, closed its gates on Sunday 13th May. It was the first event to host both the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds since the Quebec Airshow in 2008.

Thunder Over the Sound, at Keesler AFB and Biloxi, MS, cancelled its Saturday 4th May programme due to severe thunderstorms.

Earlier flooding on the Missouri River in March caused the Offutt AFB Defenders of Freedom Airshow, scheduled for July, to be pre-emptively cancelled after a third of the base disappeared beneath the water.

While Offutt AFB have yet to comment definitively on the future of their show, organisers of the Salute to Veterans Airshow have already said they hope to bring back the event next year.

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.