Category Archives: Airshow News America

Live updates from the International Council of Air Shows Convention

LAS VEGAS | The biggest annual airshow convention will be held from the 9th-12th December, with a string of major announcements expected.

The schedules for the continent’s main demonstration teams were released on Tuesday 10th December, and contained few surprises. The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels announced their schedules up until 2022, while the USAF’s single-ship demonstrations announced their 2020 calendar. The USMC also announced a limited event line up for their aircraft.

North of the border, the Snowbirds revealed their season will provisionally start in the USA on the 6th June – later than usual, thanks to an accident in October 2019 which delayed the start of their training. Further US appearences, including in Oshkosh, are planned. The CF-18 Demo Team will not be performing outside Canada.

The US Navy have announced plans for their 2020 season, including a total of 42 F/A-18F “Tac Demos” and Legacy Flights. They also plan to display the F-35C Lightning II.

A slew of other announcements are also expected, including details about the format for this year’s EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. The show will see a reduced number of traditional aerobatic performers this year to accomodate a restructured warbird show, according to Show Centre: The Airshow Podcast.

New airshow-based air racing series to begin in 2020

A new air racing series is to make its debut in October 2020, with a full calendar of races expected in 2021, JLC AirShow Management have said.

The Air Show Racing Series (ARS), developed by JLC AirShow Management, will see pairs of pilots race simultaneously along two identical chicane courses, marked by inflatable pylons. The planes will be lead into the track by a pace aircraft, before weaving between ten inflatable pylons around 180 metres apart, at a height of less than 75 feet. They will then execute a half-cuban manoeuvre and fly through the course once more, before a final half-cuban and a sprint to the finish line.

Each race will include two classes – Super Sport and Extreme Sport – with eight pilots in each class. The pilots will compete in a series of knock-out heats, with the winner of each class decided on the day.

In a press release, the company said ARS is “the newest and one of the most exciting additions to the air show industry” and describe the series as “a show within an air show”. John Cudahy, president of ICAS, praised the series as “compelling entertainment” and a “huge step forward” for the airshow industry.

The inaugural event is scheduled for Wings Over North Georgia in October 2020, with a full series to follow in 2021. This will take the ARS to multiple locations, with pilots accumulating points over the season to decide a winner for each division at the end of the year. JLC AirShow Management say that the ARS can form part of an existing airshow, or act as a standalone event.

John Cowman president of JLC AirShow Management, said that the sport has been under development for two years, with FAA certification coming in October 2019. Competitors in the series will be selected and invited by ARS management based on their airshow certifications and experience.

JLC AirShow Management are the organisers of the Wings Over North Georgia airshow, which began in 2012.

XtremeAir XA-41 and XA-42 banned from flying aerobatics

HECKLINGTON | Aircraft from the XtremeAir XA-41/Sbach 300 and XA-42/Sbach 342 family have been banned from aerobatic manoeuvres by the aircraft’s manufacturer.

Photo: James Connolly

XtremeAir GmbH placed restrictions on the highly advanced aerobatic aircraft family in a Service Bulletin on Monday 23rd September, which said both the left and right hand diagonal struts of the engine mount had been found to have separated during a routine inspection of an XA-42. The bulletin bans all aerobatic manoeuvres with immediate effect and requires a placard reading “AEROBATIC MANOEUVRES PROHIBITED” to be placed in the cockpit, in view of the pilot.

The manufacturer also says a ten-minute visual inspection of the engine mount must be completed before each flight. This inspection was previously required only once every ten aerobatic flights.

EASA published an Emergency Airworthy Directive the following day, which said cracks had been found on the engine mount, which “could lead to in-flight detachment of the engine, possibly resulting in loss of control of the aeroplane”.

Photo: Jim Lucas

The XA-41 and XA-42 are popular with airshow and competition aerobatic pilots, and are also used by aerobatic teams including Team Xtreme from South Africa, the Flying Bulls of the Czech Republic and the UK’s Matadors Aerobatic Team.

The aircraft had already been under the spotlight after cracks were detected in the engine mount during a separate inspection last year.

Pilot pronounced dead after plane goes missing at air display

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.

WWII-inspired paint scheme for 2020 A-10 Demo Team jet

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.

Heritage Paint 2019

Back to the Future. Stay tuned…

Posted by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on Wednesday, 28 August 2019

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.

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.

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.

VIEW THE FULL SCHEDULES HERE

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.”

Red Arrows announce long-awaited American tour schedule

SCAMPTON | The RAF Red Arrows have announced a schedule of events they plan to perform at during this year’s US and Canada tour.

The team, who fly nine Hawk T.1A jet trainers, will engage in a nine-week tour taking in major airshows as well as business and STEM engagements. It will be the first time they have visited the continent since 2008 and their first major tour of the region since 1993.

They will wrap up their UK season in on the 19th-21st July at the Royal International Air Tattoo. After a short period of leave, during which maintenance work will be carried out on the jets, the team will cross the Atlantic for the start of the tour.

The first round of events was announced in February, including six major shows. Additional stops were released later in the spring. Further engagements will be announced in due course.

Date Show Notes
Aug 11 Halifax, NS, Canada Enhanced flypast
Aug 11 Parliament Hill, Ottawa, QC, Canada Flypast
Aug 13 Gatineau-Ottawa, QC, Canada Display
Aug 17-18 Chicago Air & Water Show, Chicago, IL, USA Display
Aug 19 Boston, CT, USA Flypast
Aug 21 Thunder Over the Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ, USA Display
Aug 22 New York, NY, USA Joint flypast
Aug 24-25 New York Airshow, Stewart, NY, USA Display
Aug 26 Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, DC, USA Flypast
Aug 27 Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center, VA, USA Flypast
Aug 28 Niagara Falls, NY, USA/ON, Canada Flypast
Aug 31-Sep 2 Canadian Int’l Airshow, Toronto, ON, Canada Display
Sep 6 St. Louis, MO, USA Flypast
Sep 7-8 Spirit of St. Louis Airshow, Chesterfield, MO, USA Display
Sep 11 Houston Space Center, Houston, TX, USA Flypast
Sep 11 Ellington Field, Houston, TX, USA Enhanced flypast
Sep 12 Fort Worth, TX, USA Enhanced flypast
Sep 17 Denver, CO, USA Enhanced flypast
Sep 20-22 Oregon Int’l Airshow, Hillsboro, OR, USA Display
Sep 23 Seattle, WA, USA Flypast
Sep 26 Vancouver, BC, Canada Enhanced flypast
Sep 26 Victoria, BC, Canada Flypast
Sep 28-29 Miramar Airshow, San Diego, CA, USA Display
Oct 1 San Francisco, CA, USA Flypast
Oct 4-6 Great Pacific Airshow, Huntington Beach, CA, USA Display

 

Ex-Blue Angel gives details on Super Hornet transition

PENSACOLA | The Blue Angels are planning to fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet for the 2021 display season, according to a former pilot.

Cpt. Ryan Bernacchi spoke to Newsradio 1620 recently, giving further details on the team’s upcoming transition from the F/A-18 Legacy Hornet.

Bernacchi said the plan is for 11 modified Super Hornets to enter Blue Angels service at the end of 2020. The Blue Angels are currently scheduled to end their 2020 display season one month earlier than usual. This will allow an extended winter training period during which the team will re-adjust to their new jets before making their Super Hornet debut in spring 2021.

However, the transition is not the US Navy’s priority and could potentially slip beyond 2020.

Cpt. Bernacchi said that the Super Hornet should fit well with the team, although some maneuver will need to be modified – although he said the look of the maneuvers should look similar from the ground. However, one move may have to be dropped entirely, and it has been suggested that the overall length of the demonstration may be marginally reduced.

He said the decision to transition to the Super Hornet, which was made last December, when the Navy evaluated that the cost of modifying Super Hornets would be similar to that of upgrading newer Legacy Hornets being retired from front-line service.