Category Archives: Airshow News Military

Gusto Tactical Display: New French Air Force Mirage 2000 demo team to debut in 2021

VAUCLUSE | The French Air Force will debut a new tactical demonstration team in 2021 flying two Dassault Mirage 2000Cs.

Mirage 2000N at RIAT 2015 (file image). Photo: Jim Lucas

Escadron de Chasse 2/5 Île-de-France, based at BA115 Orange – Caritat, will field the new demonstration team, which will perform a 12-minute pairs demonstration, according to the squadron’s website.

It will mark the end of a two-year hiatus, during which the French Air Force has not demonstrated the Mirage at airshows. Couteau Delta, flying two Mirage 2000Ds, was disbanded in 2018. Since then, the French Air Force has begun flying two-ship Rafale tactical displays.

The Rafale Tactical Display has already gone through three iterations, In 2021, it will be provided by two units depending on availability: 4 Escadre de Chasse at Saint Dizier will perform with two Rafale Bs under the name Requin Mike, while 30 Escadre de Chasse at Mont de Marsan will fly two Rafale Cs under the name Bravo Vautour.

The French Air Force has a strong legacy of staging two-ship tactical demonstrations, but if all goes to plan, this will be the first time in recent years that they have fielded two-ship tactical demonstrations by two different aircraft types in a single display season.

While display dates for the Rafale Tactical Display are yet to be published, the new Gusto Tactical Display already list three dates for 2021. According to the squadron website, the display will be seen at the following shows:

  • Sep 11-12: Air Legends, Melun – Villaroche, France
  • Oct 3: Meeting Aérien de Gap – Tallard, Gap – Tallard, France
  • Oct 14: 80th Anniversary of EC2/5 “Île-de-France”, Orange – Caritat, France

Turkish Stars NF-5 in fatal accident at Konya

KONYA | A Northrop NF-5 Freedom Fighter of the Turkish Stars aerobatic team was involved in a fatal accident today, Wednesday 7th April.

The jet crashed during a training flight at the team’s home base, Konya, according to local news reports. Images of the accident show debris spread across a wide area. Team pilot Burak Gençcelep, 38, was killed in the accident, the cause of which is being investigated.

The Turkish Stars were formed in 1992 and display with eight ex-Royal Netherlands Air Force NF-5A/B Freedom Fighters. They are based at Konya alongside the Yüzbaşı Turkish Air Force’s other demonstration team, SoloTurk.

Today’s accident is only the second fatal crash in the team’s history, with the first occuring in 2012.

No RAF Tutor solo display in 2021 due to “technical issues”

The Royal Air Force will not field its Grob Tutor T.1 solo display this year due to unspecified technical issues, it was announced today.

Photo: James Connolly

A post on the team’s official Twitter account read: “It is with much sadness that I must announce that there will be no RAF Tutor display this year. Due to ongoing technical issues with the Tutor aircraft it is not feasible to run a display this year. Hopefully we will see you all again in 2022!”

The Grob 115E Tutor is the UK military’s elementary flying trainer, and is one of the RAF’s longest-standing solo display teams. The RAF has around 90 Grob Tutors in service, with the type entering service in 1999, but it is being replaced in some roles by the Military Flight Training System’s much newer fleet of Grob Prefects.

This year’s display pilot was once again due to be Flt. Lt. Neil Owczarkowski, who has been the team’s pilot since 2019.

Thunder Over Niagara Open House 2021 cancelled

NIAGARA FALLS | This year’s edition of Thunder Over Niagara Open House, which had been due to host one of the top airshow line ups in North America, has been cancelled.

Originally scheduled for the 19th-20th June at Niagara ARS, NY, the show had been due to feature the US Navy Blue Angels and USAF F-16C Viper Demo Team, as well as the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and CF-188A Hornet in the flying display. The latter two acts would have likely operated from Canada to avoid travel restrictions, and the show was due to be their only early-season appearance in the United States this year.

Lt. Col. Ben Canetti, the airshow’s director, said on Facebook: “We have received tremendous support within the community and NY State gave us their approval to host the event. With that being said, Air Force Reserve Command decided today it was not in their best interest to host the event during the current environment.

“I am truly sorry for the performers, staff, volunteers and most of all the entire Western New York community. At this time we do not have a future date or know what this means for the show in the near future. Hopefully at some point we will rebound from this and bring it back with the same exciting lineup we’ve all become accustomed to. We as the staff have been working this for over a year and are truly saddened like you, so again, we are sorry for the bad news.”

Thunder Over Niagara was last held in 2011, 2015 and 2018.

Blue Angels and Thunderbirds debut epic “Super Delta” 12-ship formation

EL CENTRO | The Blue Angels and Thunderbrids have joined forces for an incredible 12-ship formation, known as the Super Delta, during joint training sessions at El Centro.

Photo: US Department of Defense

Six F-16CJs of the Thunderbirds joined together with the six new F/A-18E Super Hornets of the Blue Angels for the first time on Tuesday to perform a flypast over Imperial Valley, passing over the Blue Angels’ new C-130J Hercules support plane on the ground below.

The Blue Angels said that they will “virtually debut a full flight” on most major US news networks during the Memorial Day weekend on the 29th-31st of May. Although not confirmed, this suggests the two teams may perform a similar flyby during Memorial Day events, due to be broadcast on live television.

Photo: US Department of Defense

The Thunderbirds recently arrived at El Centro, the Blue Angels’ winter training base, for one week of joint training. The two teams very rarely appear at airshows together, but the camp is designed to help the two teams trade lessons learned and best practices ahead of the new airshow season. Described by the Department of Defense as an annual event, the tradition began only last year.

Last year, the two teams performed joint flypasts as part of Operation America Strong, which saw them fly over cities across the US to honour front line workers during the coronavirus pandemic. However, on that occasion, the two teams flew in a pair of six-ship formations some distance apart from each other.

Countries will multiple military aerobatic teams have often combined their teams into a single performance to mark significent events. In 2014, the two aerobatic teams of the Swiss Air Force performed a specially-choreographed, jaw-dropping 15-minute show, featuring 15 aircraft, to mark the air arm’s centenary. The Russian Knights and Swifts regularly combine to perform loops and flypasts in a single formation before the two teams perform their individual routines, and last month, the two aerobatic teams of the Indian Air Force staged a 20-minute combined demonstration for the first time, featuring nine fast jets and four helicopters.

Sri Lanka Air Force to hold first international airshow in decades to mark 70th anniversary

COLOMBO | Sri Lanka’s first international airshow for 20 years will take place in Galle Face next week, marking the 70th anniversary of the country’s air force (SLAF).

Photo: Indian Air Force

A celebration on the day of the anniversary will be held at SLAF Base Katunayake on the 2nd of March, followed by a major flyinf display over Colombo’s prestigious Galle Face Beach from Wednesday 3rd-Friday 5th March, starting at 5pm each day.

Three Indian Air Force teams are due to display over Galle Face: the Surya Kiran aerobatic team, flying nine BAE Hawk Mk.132s, will be performing in the country for the first time since 2001, while the Sarang helicopter aerobatic team and the HAL Tejas Light Combat Aircraft will be making their Sri Lanka air display debuts.

The Indian Navy has also dispatched the Dornier Do228 to participate in the festivities, as Sri Lanka mulls purchasing the type for maritime patrol duties. SLAF pilots and observers will fly along with the Indian Navy crews.

The SLAF will stage a flypast as part of the show, due to feature the Chengdu F-7, Bell 212, Bell 412, Mil Mi-17, Cessna 152, King Air B200 and Xian MA60. Promotional images also show a Nanchang CJ-6 in the colours of Sri Lanka’s first official aerobatic team, the Blue Eagles, which was created in early 2019. A total of 24 SLAF aircraft are due to participate.

The event in Galle Face appears to replace the SLAF’s traditional annual Air Tattoo, held each March at SLAF Base Hingurakgoda. The Air Tattoo is Sri Lanka’s only regular public airshow, and typically features parachute displays, role demonstrations and flypasts.

The SLAF operates a small but eclectic mix of ageing Soviet, American, Israeli and Chinese aircraft, with only three jets (one second-hand IAI Kfir and three Chengdu F-7s) currently in its front line fighter fleet. The HAL Tejas LCA was once considered an option to replace these venerable jets, but in 2018, Sri Lanka instead opted to restore five retired Kfir airframes, which will serve for at least another 15 years once they are returned to service. Three more SLAF Kfirs have been written off in accidents, including two lost during an air display practice in 2011.

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.

Swiss Hornet Solo Display 2021 airshow schedule

The Swiss Air Force’s F-18C Hornet solo display has released its 2021 airshow schedule, with dates in the UK, Malta, Belgium and France, as well as the team’s native Switzerland.

SWISS HORNET SOLO DISPLAY 2021 SCHEDULE

Date Show Location Country
Jun 26-27 Belgium Belgian Air Force Days Florennes Belgium
Jul 24-25 United Kingdom Duxford Air Festival Duxford UK (ENG)
Aug 14-15 Switzerland Air Festival 2021 Lommis Switzerland
Aug 20-22 Switzerland Sonchaux Acro Show Villeneuve Switzerland
Aug 28-29 Switzerland Dittinger Flugtage (Dittinger Airshow) Dittinger Switzerland
Sep 10-12 Belgium Sanicole International Airshow Hechtel Belgium
Sep 18-19 France Open Doors Day BA116 Luxeuil Saint-Sauveur France
Sep 25-26 Malta Malta International Airshow Luqa Malta
Sep 30 Switzerland 100 Years of Payerne Air Base Payerne Switzerland
Oct 1 Switzerland Parents’ Day, Ecole d’Aviation 81-2/21 Payerne Switzerland
Oct 19-20 Switzerland AXALP Flight Demonstrations Axalp Switzerland

 

“Still too many unknowns” – Royal International Air Tattoo 2021 cancelled

FAIRFORD | The Royal International Air Tattoo – the world’s largest military airshow – has been cancelled because there are “still too many unknowns” about the path of the coronavirus pandemic.

Scheduled for the 16th-18th July, RIAT 2021 was one of the most anticipated aviation events of the year, and had been due to mark the show’s 50th anniversary. Up to 300 aircraft from dozens of air forces were due to take part in the event’s seven-hour daily flying display and two-mile-long static park, drawing a crowd of over 150,000.

A statement released by organisers said: “RAFCTE Directors concluded that the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 meant there were too many risks associated with pressing ahead with the airshow.

“Air Tattoo CEO Paul Atherton said he and his team had been working hard during the past six months to explore ways in which the Air Tattoo could take place against the backdrop of the pandemic but, with five months to the event, there still remained too many unknowns.”

Mr Atherton said that if they knew what the situation would be in ths summer, the event might have been able to go ahead. “We have reached a point where, to plan further, would involve us committing large sums of money to secure the event infrastructure,” he said. “Without any insurance being available this year, this money would be lost if the airshow had to cancel nearer the time. It was simply too big a risk to take.”

“We have a duty to protect the future of RIAT,” he added.

It is speculated that the hospitality industry may begin a phased reopening in April, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson due to announce a “road map” out of lockdown next week. However, social distancing and travel restrictions are not expected to be fully relaxed for months. More than most airshows, RIAT depends on international visitors, and the venue is likely not suitable for a drive-in event format seen at military airshows in North America.

A number of display items had already indicated their intention to participate in this year’s show, including the USAF A-10C Demo Team, the Swiss Air Force’s PC-7 TEAM and the Patrouille Suisse.

Ticket holders will be contacted later this month and offered a refund, or the chance to roll their tickets over to RIAT 2022, which will be held on the 15th-17th July.

Last year’s Air Tattoo – which was also cancelled – was replaced with a live broadcast, the Virtual Air Tattoo, hosted by RIAT’s lead commentator, Ben Dunnell. As well as dozens of video features submitted by many of the world’s air forces and display teams, the event also included interviews, excerpts from previous shows and virtual air displays performed in DCS World.

PC-7 TEAM release 2021 schedule; three international airshows planned

The PC-7 TEAM of the Swiss Air Force have released a provisional schedule for 2021, including displays in the UK, Spain and Malta.

PC-7 TEAM 2021 SCHEDULE

Date Show Location Country
Jun 26 Switzerland Armeetag (Army Day) Emmen Switzerland
Jun 29 Switzerland Transfer of Command Operations Dübendorf Switzerland
Jul 3 Switzerland Eroffnung Bucker Museum Teufen Switzerland
Jul 9-11 Spain Festival Aéreo international Torre del Mar Malaga Spain
Jul 16-18 United Kingdom Royal International Air Tattoo Fairford UK (ENG)
Jul 15 Switzerland Swiss Open Gstaad Switzerland
Sep 4 Switzerland 25 Jahre Hunterverein (25 Years of the Hunter Club) Mollis Switzerland
Sep 5 Switzerland Fluugerchilbi Langenthal Switzerland
Sep 11 Switzerland Gewerbernesse Aadorf Aadorf Switzerland
Sep 11-12 Switzerland Erlebnistage Flugplatz Sitterdorf (Adventure Days Sitterdorf Airfield) Sitterdorf Switzerland
Sep 18-19 Switzerland Montreux Acrobaties Montreux Switzerland
Sep 25-26 Malta Malta International Airshow Luqa Malta
Oct 9-10 Switzerland Olma Messen St. Gallen Switzerland
Oct 16-17 Switzerland Air & Space Days Luzern Switzerland