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.
SANTIAGO | A GameBird GB1 operated by the Chilean Air Force’s aerobatic team crashed in a residential area during a test flight on Saturday 7th September.
The aircraft crashed in Santiago’s El Bosque neighbourhood near El Bosque Air Base. Firefighters confirmed that eight people on the ground were injured in the crash, with one suffering minor burns and seven being hospitalised due to smoke inhalation.
The pilot was identified in a brief statement on the Halcones’ Facebook page as Cristobal Contreras, who has served with the team for several years. The team said he escaped “practically unharmed”, but local media report he suffered minor injuries to his head.
The Halcones are Chile’s national aerobatic team, formed in 1981 on the Pitts Special. The team later upgraded to the Extra 300L in 2003. In March 2019, the Halcones announced the team had selected the GameBird GB1 as their next aircraft, with the first delivery taking place in July this year.
The Halcones are not performing public displays this year while they transition to their new aircraft. They are expected to make their display debut with the GameBird at the FIDAE aerospace and defence show in Santiago on the 31st March-5th April 2020.
An investigation into the cause of the crash has been launched.
SOUTHPORT | The Short Tucano T.1 is to make its final flying display appearance in RAF hands this weekend at the Southport Airshow.
The RAF’s Tucano Solo Display was resurrected this year for the first time since 2014 to mark the type’s retirement this autumn. This year’s display pilot, 24-year-old Flt. Lt. Liam Matthews of 72 Squadron, enjoyed a busy season, performing at 17 public airshows in the UK and one in Ireland.
The Short Tucano T.1 is a British license-built version of the EMB-312 Tucano basic fast jet trainer. It was introduced into RAF service in 1989, with a total of 130 airframes delivered. It is now being replaced by the T-6 Texan II.
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.
MURCIA | A former pilot of the Patrulla Aguila was killed when his C-101 Aviojet crashed into the sea near La Manga during a training flight at 09:38 local time on Monday 26th August.
The European Council of Airshows confirmed several hours after the accident that Comandante Francisco “Paco” Marín Núñez, the team’s solo pilot for the 2018 season, died in the crash. La Informacion said that Cmdte. Marín had been conducting a familiarisation flight after his summer holiday, and that he was the only person on board at the time of the accident. He had been working as a flight instructor at the General Air Academy in San Javier, where Patrulla Aguila are also based.
The Spanish Air Force later said: “In the absence of confirmation from the forensic authority regarding the missing remains, everything indicates that our companion the pilot instructor of the General Air Academy accident, has died.”
The Spanish Ministry of Defence said that the pilot had managed to eject, sparking a search and rescue operation. It had earlier been reported by La Confidencial that the downed jet had been part of Patrulla Aguilla, Spain’s main military aerobatic team, which fly seven C-101 Aviojets and often practice in the area.
The Spanish-built CASA C-101 entered service in 1980 and is used as an advanced jet trainer by the Spanish Air Force.
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.
PERPIGNAN | The Patrouille de France suspended all aerobatic displays after one of their jets crash-landed in a field and crashed into a wall by a main road on Thursday 25th July.
The French Air Force team had just performed a practice display at Saint-Cyprien and were returning to Perpignan – Rivesaltes Airport when ‘Athos 2’ landed in a field near the airport and skidded into a roadside barrier. The pilot managed to eject and was reportedly injured, but the Patrouille de France said there was “no cause for concern” about his health.
The team have halted their displays while an investigation determines the cause of the accident, but posted on Tuesday 30th July that practices and displays had been resumed. They expressed hope that Athos 2 will re-join the team soon, after his recovery.
The Patrouille de France are France’s national aerobatic team, flying eight Alpha Jets. They can trace their routes back to 1931. Today’s accident is the team’s first for almost a decade.
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.