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.”
COSFORD | This year’s RAF Cosford Airshow has been cancelled due to coronavirus uncertainty, but event organisers are planning a “grand return” in 2022.
Organisers blamed the decision on the rapid spread of the Delta varient, as well as the UK government’s decision to delay the scrapping of remaining coronavirus restrictions until at least the 19th July, which they said amounted to “too much uncertainty.”
Originally scheduled for June, the Cosford Airshow was extended to a two day event and postponed until the 11th-12th September, in the hope it would increase the show’s chances of going ahead. The Red Arrows, RAF Typhoon solo display and RAF Falcons had announced their intention to participate.
“Taking this decision now ensures that the future of RAF Cosford Air Shows is secure and we can now focus on our grand return to the skies in 2022,” they said. “We are devastated to be in this position once again but, as with many events, the health and safety of the public, as well as our serving personnel, and the financial security of future shows must be our priorities.”
Next year’s show will tell the story of aviation and royalty, and commemorate aviation and engineering achievements during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrates her Platinum Jubilee next June. Dates are yet to be announced.
Ticket holders can opt to roll their tickets over until next year or request a refund.
The Saudi Hawks are seeingly planning a European tour in late August – their first since 2019.
The Kecskemet Airshow in Hungary has announced the team for its 2021 show, due to be held on the 28th-29th August. It will be the team’s first visit to Hungary.
Although not officially announced, the website of Gdynia AeroBaltic in Poland also features images of the Saudi Hawks – the only team featured on their site which doesn’t yet appear in the official programme. The Hawks have also been included in promotional images on Facebook, alongside other acts that have been officially confirmed.
AeroBaltic’s organisers already have a relationship with the team, and hosted them at their most recent show in 2019. This year’s event is scheduled for the 21st-22nd August, just one week before Kecskemet.
If Gdynia was to host the Saudi Hawks, it would be the first time that three aerobatic teams flying the Hawk have performed at a single airshow; the Red Arrows and Midnight Hawks have already been announced.
The week after Kecskemet is Athens Flying Week – another show which the Saudi Hawks have visited in the past. However, there is no public indication yet that they are planning a return visit to Greece this year.
The team first visited Europe in 2011, and have returned several times since, displaying in countries such as Greece, Poland, the UK, Belgium and Austria. They currently fly seven BAE Hawk Mk.65s.
Aerobatic Team Orlik, one of the Polish Air Force’s two major aerobatic teams, have released their 2021 airshow schedule, including overseas dates in Hungary, Slovakia and Italy.
After the cancellation of their planned appearance at Airshow Margonin due to poor weather, the team made their 2021 debut at Antidotum Airshow Leszno in late June. Despite earlier indicating they would fly as a five-ship team this year, the team staged a limited three-ship show, recorded here by This is Flight. Now, they say that, with new pilots being trained up, the remainder of this year’s season will see a minimum of six aircraft taking part in the display.
Team Orlik, which draws on Poland’s small fleet of fully operational PZL-130 Orlik aircraft and flight instructors, has seen big fluctuations in size, ranging from nine aircraft in the late 2000s to as few as one plane in 2018. A six-ship display would be the team’s largest in four years.
Poland’s other aerobatic team, Bialo-Czerwone Iskry, will be taking part in its final full display season this summer, ahead of the retirement of their TS-11 Iskra jets in 2022. Like Team Orlik, their numbers have risen as high as nine in the past, but are expected to be a maximum of five in 2021.
|| Antidotum Airshow
|| Święto 42 Baza Lotnictwa Szkolnego
||Ketrzyn – Gizycko
|| Gdynia AeroBaltic Airshow
|| Kecskemét International Airshow
|| Festyn Lotniczy Mirosławiec
|| Slovak International Air Fest
|| 75 Lecie Aeroklub Mielecky
|| Frecce Tricolori 60th Anniversary
COGNAC | The French Air & Space Force have announced yet another new unit joining their fast-growing selection of aerobatic display teams.
Photo: Armee de l’Air et de l’Espace (via Facebook)
Coming from BA709 Cognac – Chateaubernard, the new team, known as Mustang X-Ray, will fly two Pilatus PC-21s. It is the first time the PC-21 will be part of a formal French Air Force display team, having entered service in 2019. The base’s Facebook page says the display will highlight “several aerial figures illustrating the work done in training aircrew.”
The team will comprise two display pilots, Captain Nicolas ′′Ebay′′ and Captain Laurent ′′Dave”, as well as team coach and former Alpha Jet display pilot Captain Laurent “Jim”. All three are full-time flight instructors at Cognac.
Their first public display will be at the Sports et Collection airshow and racing event in Poitiers on the 12th-13th June.
New French Air Force demonstration teams announced since 2020 include:
- Mustang X-Ray (x2 PC-21)
- Gusto Tactical Display (x2 Mirage 2000C)
- Rafale Solo Display: Requin Mike (x2 Rafale B)
- Rafale Solo Display: Bravo Vautour (x2 Rafale C)
They are added to the existing Rafale Solo Display, Equipe de Voltige, A400M Tactical Display and the Patrouille de France.
RIVOLTO | The Italian Air Force have given five of the Frecce Tricolori’s MB-339A/PAN jets a makeover to mark the team’s 60th anniversary, with six more to follow.
Photo: Aeronautica Militaire
The team debuted some of the new schemes during their first public display of 2021 – a special show at their home base, Rivolto, for members of their fan club, marking the end of the annual training season. The rest of the special paint schemes are yet to be applied.
Five special tail designs (each of which will be applied to two of the display jets) commemorate the Frecce Tricolori’s predecessors, while the spare aircraft will be given in a modern tail design, featuring the team’s 60th anniversary badge.
The six special schemes were created by Mirco Pecorari of AircraftSutdioDesign. Pecorari’s previous clients have included Michael Goulian, Pemberton Aerosports, Scandinavian Airshow, the Mayzus Jet Team, Matthias Dolderer Racing, Greg Connell Airshows, Rolls Royce, Gary Ward, Aude Lemordant and others.
The past Italian Air Force teams represented on the Frecce’s modern day display jets are:
- Cavallino Rampante (Prancing Horse): Active in 1956 and 1957, flying five red, white and blue Canadair Sabre Mk.4 jets. Two jets today will bear the team’s logo on its tail, although the design bears only a limited resemblance to the original paint scheme.
- Getti Tonanti (Thunder Jets): A six-ship team of F-84F Thunderstreaks active in 1959 and 1960. The wings of each jet were painted in the Italian national colours, while the nose, tail and spine of each aircraft wore the colours of one of the Olympic rings. The tail also featured an image of the rings themselves, as the team featured in the 1960 Olympic Games opening ceremony. This year, two aircraft feature Getti Tonanti’s orange tail design, the colour worn by the lead aircraft in 1960.
- Tigri Bianche (White Tigers): Active in 1955 and 1956, Tigri Bianche was a five-ship team of F-86G Thunderjets. They were the first Italian aerobatic team to visit the United States. The original aircraft had the Italian flag on their tail, but in 2021, the two aircraft’s tails will wear orange, yellow and blue – Tigri Bianche’s team colours.
- Diavoli Rossi (Red Devils): Active from 1957-1959, another six-ship team of Thunderstreaks. Like Tigri Bianche, they undertook a US tour (in this case, in 1959). This year, at least one Frecce Tricolori jet wears Diavoli Rossi’s original tail design.
- Lanceri Neri (Black Lancers): A six-ship team of Canadair Sabre Mk.4s active in 1958 and 1959. The aircraft were painted all-black, except for the underside of the wings, which featured the colours of the Italian flag. In 2021, the Frecce Tricolori jet pays tribute to the team with a black tail featuring the original team crest.
The current Frecce Tricolori team was founded on the 1st March 1961 and is the joint largest jet aerobatic team in the world today. They are shortly due to swap their ageing MB-339A/PANs for the M345 High Efficiency Trainer.
To find out more about the Frecce Tricolori, click here.
The French Air & Space Force today released a short video debuting the Rafale Solo Display’s 2021 paint scheme.
Photo: Armee de l’Air et de l’Espace (via Facebook)
The Rafale Solo Display typically introduce a new special-scheme aircraft each spring, with the design being removed at the end of the airshow season. This year’s design
The French Air Force releases its display schedules later than most, and dates for the Rafale Solo Display are yet to be published.
CONINGSBY | The Royal Air Force Typhoon solo display have unveiled the 2021-22 special scheme jet on their social media platforms.
Photo: BAE Systems (via Twitter)
The aircraft, which features a matte black fuselage, red tail with RAF roundel and styalised Union Jacks on the canards and wings, was debuted on an Instagram livestream on Friday 28th September. The scheme has been applied to ZJ914, which was already painted matte black for aggressor duties in autumn 2020.
It is the first full-aircraft Typhoon special scheme since a Spitfire-style camouflage jet was used to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2015.
The team’s first display will be at the Midlands Air Festival on the 5th-6th June. Its official schedule can be found here. Additionally, the Old Buckenham Airshow on the 30th July-1st August has also announced the aircraft’s participation. The team have already been awarded their Public Display Authority for this year.
As well as being used throughout the 2021 airshow season, the special scheme will remain through 2022. Alongside its airshow duties, ZJ914 will be used in the training role at Coningsby.