Category Archives: Airshow news

Canadian Forces Snowbirds announce 2021 airshow schedule

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds have announced their 2021 airshow schedule today at the virtual ICAS Convention.

The Snowbirds are the official aerobatic team of the Royal Canadian Air Force, flying nine CT-114 Tutors in their display. Although next year will mark 51 years since the team was formed, it will be only their 50th display season, as no shows were performed in 2020.

Notably, the team plan to undertake an almost month-long visit to the southwestern United States at the end of the year, in addition to Thunder Over Niagara, which will likely be supported remotely.

North American military airshow teams traditionally announce their schedules at the the International Council of Air Shows’ annual convention, which is being held virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For more about how airshows are coping with the coronavirus, see our in-depth feature article.

SNOWBIRDS 2021 SCHEDULE

Date Show Location Country
Jun 5-6 Open date
Jun 9 Canada North Bay Armed Forces Day North Bay Canada (ON)
Jun 12-13 Open date
Jun 19-20 United States Thunder of Niagara Open House Niagara Falls USA (NY)
Jun 22 Canada Snowbirds display Hannover Canada (ON)
Jun 24 Open date
Jun 26-27 Canada Spectacle Aerien International de Bagotville Bagotville Canada (QC)
Jul 1 Canada Canada Day flyover Ottawa Canada (QC)
Jul 5 Canada Snowbirds display Thompson Canada (MB)
Jul 17 Canada Boundary Bay Airshow Delta Canada (BC)
Jul 18 Canada Snowbirds Fly For CHILD White Rock Canada (BC)
Jul 21 Canada Northwest Regional Airshow Terrace Canada (BC)
Jul 24-25 Canada Wings Over Springbank Springbank Canada (AB)
Jul 31-Aug 1 Open date
Aug 6-8 Canada Abbotsford International Airshow Abbotsford Canada (BC)
Aug 21 Canada Gander Airshow Gander Canada (NL)
Aug 22 Canada Snowbirds Over Conception Bay St. John’s Canada (NL)
Aug 25 Canada Snowbirds display Lunenberg Canada (NS)
Aug 28-29 Canada Airshow Atlantic Derbert Canada (NS)
Sep 2 Canada Brantford Community Charity Airshow Brantford Canada (ON)
Sep 4-6 Canada Canadian International Air Show Toronto Canada (ON)
Sep 8 Canada Kingston Airshow Kingston Canada (ON)
Sep 11-12 Canada Aero Gatineau-Ottawa Gatineau Canada (QC)
Sep 15 Canada Stratford Community Airshow Stratford Canada (ON)
Sep 18-19 Canada Volaria Aeronautics Festival Mirabel Canada (QC)
Sep 25-26 United States California Capital Airshow Sacramento USA (CA)
Oct 2-3 United States Great Pacific Airshow Huntington Beach USA (CA)
Oct 9-10 United States Fleet Week San Francisco USA (CA)
Oct 16-17 Open date

Canadian Forces Skyhawks cancel 2021 airshow season

The Canadian Forces’ parachute display team, the Skyhawks, will not perform until at least 2022, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Posting on social media during the virtual ICAS Convention – during which most North American military airshow teams announce their schedules for the upcoming year – the Skyhawks said they had cancelled their 2021 season “as a result of public health and other considerations related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

They added: “If safe to do so, the SkyHawks will look to resume parachute performances in 2022. It will be a landmark year as we celebrate 50 years of performances.”

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 Demo Team have already announced their 2021 schedule, and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds are expected to follow suit shortly. However, unlike these two teams, the Snowbirds typically travel to the United States for pre-season training.

The CF-18 Demo Team plan to support at least one US airshow in 2021, but this will be done remotely, with the aircraft not touching down on US soil. This suggests the Canadian military is taking a cautious approach to cross-border travel next summer, which is currently severely restricted.

For more about how airshows are coping with the coronavirus, see our in-depth feature article.

Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Demo Team announce 2021 airshow schedule

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 Demo Team has announced its 2021 airshow schedule at the virtual ICAS Convention today.

Flying a CF-118A Hornet, the CF-18 Demo Team has encountered a turbulent few years. An ageing fleet, budget cuts and insufficient manpower has seen their show season cut back significantly in recent seasons, and the team’s traditional special paint scheme was scaled back in 2019.

The schedule is, once again, lighter than in the early 2010s, and there is no news yet on the team’s theme or paint scheme for the 2021 display season. A single US show features on the schedule, which will be supported remotely from Canada – perhaps indicating that the team is not confident they will be allowed to travel freely next season due to coronavirus restrictions.

Captain Dan Deluce, originally slated to be the CF-18 Demo Team pilot in 2020, will be flying the jet at airshows in 2021.

North American military airshow teams traditionally announce their schedules at the the International Council of Air Shows’ annual convention, which is being held virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For more about how airshows are coping with the coronavirus, see our in-depth feature article.

CF-18 DEMO TEAM 2021 SCHEDULE

Date Show Location Country
Jun 5-6 Open date
Jun 12-13 Canada North Bay Armed Forces Day North Bay Canada (ON)
Jun 19-20 United States Thunder of Niagara Open House Niagara Falls USA (NY)
Jun 26-27 Canada Spectacle Aerien International de Bagotville Bagotville Canada (QC)
Jul 1 Canada Canada Day flyover Ottawa Canada (QC)
Jul 17 Canada Boundary Bay Airshow Delta Canada (BC)
Jul 24-25 Canada Wings Over Springbank Springbank Canada (AB)
Jul 31-Aug 1 Canada Lethbridge International Airshow Lethbridge Canada (AB)
Aug 6-8 Canada Abbotsford International Airshow Abbotsford Canada (BC)
Aug 14-15 Canada Vanderhoof International Airshow Vanderhoof Canada (BC)
Aug 21-22 Canada Gander Airshow Gander Canada (NL)
Aug 28-29 Canada Airshow London London Canada (ON)
Sep 2 Canada Brantford Community Charity Airshow Brantford Canada (ON)
Sep 4-6 Canada Canadian International Air Show Toronto Canada (ON)
Sep 8 Canada Kingston Airshow Kingston Canada (ON)
Sep 11-12 Canada Aero Gatineau-Ottawa Gatineau Canada (QC)
Sep 18-19 Canada Volaria Aeronautics Festival Mirabel Canada (QC)

Paris Airshow 2021 cancelled over coronavirus uncertainty

LE BOURGET | The 2021 edition of the Paris Airshow, the world’s largest aerospace trade show, will not go ahead, the event’s organisers confirmed today.

Photo: Peter Lawrence

Founded in 1909, the next edition of the Paris Airshow was due to be held from Monday 21st-Sunday 27th June 2021 at its traditional home of Le Bourget in north Paris. The biannual show, which is known locally as the Salon International de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace du Bourget, attracts hundreds of the world’s biggest aerospace companies, airlines and military representitives for a week of trade exhibitions, high-level meetings, panel discussions and aerial displays. The final two days, which are open to the public, draw hundreds of thousands of spectators.

However, the airshow’s directors, together with the board of the French Aerospace Industries Association, decided unanimously to cancel next year’s show, in a decision they described as “inevitable”. The next Paris Airshow will be held, as scheduled, in June 2023.

“We are obviously disappointed not to be able to hold the 2021 edition of the Paris Air Show. After many months of all trade show activities being suspended throughout the world, the entire international aerospace and defence community was very much looking forward to being able to meet,” said the airshow’s chairman, Patrick Daher. “We have already started work to ensure that the 2023 edition celebrates the resurgence of the aerospace industry on an international scale.”

Photo: Alex Prins

Trade-oriented airshows, which rely heavily on strong international participation and a bouyant aviation industry, are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn. Along with the Paris Airshow, trade shows in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia have also cancelled their 2021 editions, while the Australian International Airshow 2021 has been postponed from March until November.

For more about how airshows are coping with the coronavirus, see our in-depth feature article.

Two airshows & ten “Flying Days” on IWM Duxford’s 2021 event calendar

DUXFORD | The Imperial War Museum will be holding two major airshows and ten “flying days” at Duxford next year, according to their provisional 2021 event calendar.

The two major airshows will maintain Duxford’s now-familiar Air Festival and Battle of Britain themes, with each event taking place over two and three days respectively. However, in a change from their typical schedule, the Air Festival will be moving to a new slot in late July, rather than late May.

This follows the forced move of the annual Flying Legends Airshow from Duxford to Sywell. Flying Legends, which is organised by The Fighter Collection, had traditionally been held in mid-July, but the Imperial War Museum terminated their agreement to host the show, wishing to hold their own flying display in July instead. It had been hoped that Duxford would, therefore, continue to host three major airshows per year in total, although instead of setting up a new July event, the May show has been moved into a new July slot.

The 2021 airshow season faces considerable uncertainty, with social distancing expected to remain necessary at least until the middle of the year. It is possible that the Imperial War Museum have decided not to host a May show next year because of this, with a view to adding a third annual airshow in 2021.

In addition to their main airshows, the museum will also hold ten Flying Days between April and October. These appear to be a rebranding of the “Showcase Days” introduced in 2019, although they have been considerably increased in number. Each Flying Day will have a different theme, such as D-Day or of Duxford’s 19 Squadron, with pop-up exhibits around the museum and flying displays in the afternoon.

The 2021 event calendar is as follows:

  • Sunday 24th April: Flying Day
  • Sunday 8th May: Flying Day
  • Saturday 22nd May: Flying Day
  • Sunday 6th June: Flying Day
  • Sunday 20th June: Flying Day
  • Saturday 3rd July: Flying Day
  • Saturday 24th-Sunday 25th July: Duxford Air Festival
  • Wednesday 4th August: Flying Day
  • Wednesday 11th August: Flying Day
  • Thursday 19th August: Flying Day
  • Friday 17th-Sunday 19th September: Battle of Britain Airshow
  • Sunday 9th October: Flying Day

You can read our guide to air displays at Duxford here.

Sea Vixen return-to-flight effort ends due to lack of funds

YEOVILTON | Navy Wings have decided to halt efforts to return their beloved Sea Vixen to flight, following a gear-up landing in 2017.

Photo: James Connolly

The organisation had hoped that a “white knight” sponsor would step in to fund the estimated £2 million repairs, but despite a fundraising appeal and searching for individuals and organisations that may be willing to fund the restoration, none have been forthcoming.

In a statement on their website, Navy Wings said the coronavirus pandemic had forced them to re-evaluate their business plan to ensure that some of the aircraft can be back in the air next year. They said they had “carefully considered” the future of the Sea Vixen, but “the Board of Trustees has reluctantly made the decision to stop investing vital funds into preparing her for flight.

Navy Wings will now focus its efforts on restoring its Sea Fury FB.11, which will one day fly alongside its Sea Fury T.20.

“It is difficult having to make choices between historically important and beautiful aircraft,” Navy Wings said. “They all have their place in our story. We will not do anything to render the Sea Vixen unfit to fly in case someone comes forward in the future and she will continue to be a star attraction at Yeovilton Air Day.

“This classic Fleet Air Arm fighter and icon of the Cold War will always have a special place in the hearts of many and continue to impress and inspire for years to come.”

Sea Vixen FAW.2 XP924 (G-CVIX) was forced to make a gear-up landing at Yeovilton in May 2017, when the landing gear failed to lower. Although the pilot was praised for a textbook landing, structural damage to the aircraft was unavoidable.

XP924 was the world’s only flying Sea Vixen at the time of the accident, and none have flown since then.

Luchtmachtdagen 2021 not compatible with coronavirus restrictions, says Dutch MOD

GILZE-RIJEN| The Dutch Ministry of Defence has decided not to host its traditional Luchtmachtdagen airshow next year, saying the event is not compatible with coronavirus restrictions.

After weeks of speculation, the official cancellation of Luchtmachtdagen 2021 has been anticipated for some time. It has become the fourth European airshow of 2021 to fall victim to coronavirus uncertainty, with airshow organisers uncertain which social distancing rules may be in force next summer.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) said that if restrictions were applied to visitors and participants, the show would lose its original form and purpose.

The Air Force also said that, following the end of coronavirus restrictions, the priority would be taking part in international military exercises, rather than staging air displays. Much of the Air Force’s essential training takes place at international exercises, which have mostly been cancelled this year, leaving pilots and crew out of practice.

Luchtmachtdagen, meaning “Air Force Days”, is one of Europe’s largest military airshows, and the only one to be held in the Netherlands. It is traditionally held each June at one of the country’s major military air bases: Volkel, Leeuwarden, or, as with next year, Gilze-Rijen. As well as a large number of international military performers, it usually features impressive role demonstrations from the RNLAF. It usually attracts around 250,000 visitors.

Unlike many European air arms, the RNLAF does not have full-time display teams. Aside from the popular AH-64D Apache solo display, the most of the RNLAF’s performances at Luchtmachtdagen are one-off displays, planned and practiced specifically for the two-day show.

For more about how airshows are coping with the coronavirus, see our in-depth feature article.

Shuttleworth Collection plans to host 10 airshows in 2021

OLD WARDEN | The Shuttleworth Collection is planning a full airshow season next year, with most events already confirmed to be drive-in events.

Ten airshows, each with a distinct theme, will take place between May and October, including four evening air displays. Most events up until mid-August are already confirmed to be drive-in events, while later shows will be held in a more conventional format if possible.

As well as some of Shuttleworth’s traditional themes, there will also be several new event themes in 2021. The biggest shake-up sees the traditional mid-August Flying Proms being replaced by the Flying Circus, an evening event that will feature barnstorming air displays combined with traditional circus acts on the ground. It is hoped that the Proms, which are harder to run in a socially-distant manner, will return in 2022.

Among the other shows, one will pay tribute to the Festival of Britain, a national exhibition held across the UK in 1951. The Scurry of Chipmunks Airshow will bring together large numbers of Chipmunks and de Havilland Moths, and the Flying for Fun Airshow will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Light Aircraft Association. The Collection’s most popular show, the Military Airshow, will return in its usual early July slot.

In an effort to make ticket costs more flexible, ticketing for drive-in shows will be completely revamped in 2021. Each group of visitors must purchase either a 5×5 metre car space for £10, a 4.8×5 metre oversize car space for £20, or a 2.5×5 metre space for visitors attending on foot or bicycle. The latter will cost £5 and has a capacity of two people. In addition, each visitor must purchase an entry ticket for themselves, which cost £26 per adult until the end of February, rising to £34 thereafter. The Flying Circus is slightly more expensive than other scheduled airshows.

Some end-of-season airshows are currently not being marketed as drive-in airshows, although the drive-in ticketing system currently applies. If the Collection are able to follow a more traditional airshow format, the cost of parking or viewing spaces will be refunded.

The Collection’s 2021 schedule is as follows:

  • Sunday 2nd May: Season Premiere Airshow (drive-in)
  • Saturday 15th May: Spies and Intrigue Evening Airshow (drive-in)
  • Sunday 6th June: Flying Festival of Britain (drive-in)
  • Saturday 19th June: Scurry of Chipmunks Evening Airshow (drive-in)
  • Sunday 4th July: Military Airshow (drive-in)
  • Saturday 17th July: Flying for Fun Evening Airshow (drive-in)
  • Sunday 1st August: Need for Speed Family Airshow
  • Saturday 14th August: Flying Circus (drive-in)
  • Saturday 4th-Sunday 5th September: Vintage Weekend Airshow (air display on Sunday only)
  • Saturday 2nd-Sunday 3rd October: Race Weekend (air display on Saturday only)

The Shuttleworth Collection held several successful drive-in airshows in July, August and September 2020.

For more about how airshows are coping with the coronavirus, see our in-depth feature article.

Flying Legends gets new home at Sywell after being forced out of Duxford

NORTHAMPTON | Sywell Airfield near Northampton will be the new home of Europe’s biggest warbird airshows, after the event was forced to leave Duxford earlier this year.

Flying Legends, which is run by Duxford-based The Fighter Collection, was left without a home in August after the Imperial War Museum suddenly decided that they would not allow the airshow to go ahead there from 2021 onwards. It is expected that IWM will host their own airshow in July in replacement of Flying Legends, to boost the museum’s revenue.

Sywell is a major warbird base which has hosted major airshows in the past – most recently in 2014. It also hosts a selection of smaller annual events, such as Pistons & Props. The airfield also houses much of Air Leasing’s warbird fleet, as well various other civilian airshow performers such as The Blades aerobatic display team.

The airfield has three grass runways – some of which may be closed to accomodate the airfield showground – and a 1,200m hard runway, as well as sturdy, permanent hangars. It is located just 40 miles from Duxford. The first edition of Flying Legends at Sywell is scheduled for the 10th-11th July 2021.

Sywell is likely to have a considerably smaller capacity than Duxford, which can welcome up to 30,000 spectators each day (although Flying Legends crowd are often smaller). Previous airshows at Sywell have had a capacity of around 10,000 visitors per day. On the map above, the old showground is marked in red. The largest possible showground is marked in pale blue – this is roughly the site layout used for the LAA Rally. This would give the crowd the closest possible view of the two parallel 03/12 runways.

The promotional poster for Flying Legends 2021 suggests a small showground (shown in yellow), roughly the same size as the old showground, but with a curved crowdline – a tantalising prospect for photographers. This layout would provide the most favourable lighting during the flying display and could allow all four runways to remain open, although it may also bring the display line close to congested areas that could be subject to additional restrictions such as minimum altitudes or a ban on aerobatics.

The longest possible crowdline length is around 500 metres – less than half of the length of the crowdline at Duxford. However, the convex shape of Duxford’s crowdline means that the display line is likely to be closer to spectators at Sywell than at Duxford.

Flying Legends’ move away from Duxford was announced in a shock statement on the 25th August, leading many to speculate that the airshow may never return.

Flying Legends has been held at Duxford for over 30 years and has become Europe’s biggest and best-known warbird airshow. The two-day annual event attracted rare warbirds from around the world, but is perhaps most famous for the “Balbo”, a huge formation of around 30 warbirds that closes out each show day.

Traditionally, Flying Legends was one of three large airshows held at Duxford each year, with the other two being organised by the airfield owners, the Imperial War Museum. The Fighter Collection are one of several classic aircraft operators to be based at the site and their aircraft typically feature both at Flying Legends and at museum-run shows.

The Fighter Collection will continue to be based at Duxford.

Final formal flight for Blue Angels with the Legacy Hornet

PENSACOLA | The US Navy Blue Angels made their last formal flight with their F/A-18 “Legacy” Hornets on Wednesday 4th November, performing a “Beach Buzz” over their home town of Pensacola.

Photo: US Navy Blue Angels

Six jets, plus a cameraship, participated in the flyover, which is traditionally performed each time the team arrive home in Pensacola after an airshow. However, with the team’s airshows all cancelled in 2020, only a small number of Beach Buzzes have been performed this year.

The flyover marks the end of service for the F/A-18A/B/C/D “Legacy” Hornet, which has served with the Blue Angels since 1986. The type has already been retired from regular US Navy service and some of the airframes used by the Blue Angels are several decades old.

“We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to salute those teams who have flown, maintained and supported this platform for over three decades of service,” said the team’s commanding officer and flight leader, Cmdr. Brian Kesselring. “We look forward to enhancing our operations as we fully transition to flying the Super Hornet.”

Photo: US Navy Blue Angels

From 2021 onwards, the team will display with the larger and more powerful F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Small groups of Super Hornets have already been seen over Pensacola, practicing the team’s 2021 display profile, which is expected to be largely the same as their 2020 routine, but with a few manoeuvres omitted.

Also next year, the team will begin displaying their new support aircraft, an ex-Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules. Their 2021 schedule is expected to be confirmed at the virtual ICAS Convention in December.