Category Archives: Airshow news

Iran sets up bizarre aerobatic team with knock-off jets, paint scheme and logo

TEHRAN | The Iranian Air Force today took delivery of three indiginous HESA Kowsar fighters, seemingly destined for a new aerobatic team.


A newly-delivered Kowsar at the delivery ceremony today. Photo: Iran_Newsroom.

The Iranian Defence Ministry handed the three aircraft to the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) in a ceremony on Thursday 25th June, at which the specially-painted planes performed formation manoeuvres and flypasts.

Iran’s most recent official aerobatic team, Golden Crown, flew eight Northrop F-5Es up until the Imperial Iranian Air Force was dissolved in 1979. In recent years, Iran has harboured ambitions to create a new team, with the commander of the IRIAF stating in February this year that he hoped a three-ship Kowsar display would be ready in time for the Army Day parade in April. Although the deadline has been missed, the special paint schemes, along with the matching pilot helmets and routine of formation flybys, would suggest that the three jets delivered today are intended for aerial displays.

The Kowsar is an Iranian-built derivative of the Northrop F-5F, which made its first flight in 2018 and is claimed to be a 4th generation fighter. However, one of the Kowsars delivered today is a 43-year-old modified F-5F, still wearing Northrop decals on the ejection seat, despite Iran insisting that the Kowsar is entirely indiginously produced.

 File:RoKAF Black Eagles Singapore Airshow 2014.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Almost identical: The new Iranian jets (left) and the Black Eagles (right). Photos: Iran_Newsroom and Alert5 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Aside from the knock-off F-5s, airshow enthusiasts will note several more bizarre elements of the new team. The paint scheme is remarkably similar to the design applied to the underside of the Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles team, even mirroring several minor details of the Black Eagles’ design such as the number and position of the Black Eagles’ styalised trailing edge feathers.

Footage broadcast on Iranian television also shows the pilots wearing matching helmets, which very closely mirror the helmet design and logo used by the Italian aerobatic team, Frecce Tricolori. Again, even some minor details of the design have seemingly been copied, including the rough design and placement of the Frecce’s trademark three arrows.

 Aquile trentine nella storia delle « Frecce » - Storia delle ...
Spot the difference: The logo on the Iranian pilot’s helmet (left) is remarkably close to that of the Frecce Tricolori (right). Photos: @Iran_Newsroom and Frecce Tricolori.

While most teams strive to create an individual, recognisable brand and identity, Iran has a history of copying foreign aerobatic teams’ paint schemes. While flying the F-84G Thunderjet, the Golden Crowns’ paint scheme shared more than a passing similarity to that of the Thunderbirds. Upon graduating to the F-5A Freedom Fighter, and later the F-5E Tiger II, Golden Crown adopted a new scheme that was almost identical to that of the Thunderbirds, who were by this point flying the T-38 Talon.

6 Imperial Iranian Air Force F-5Es in an arobatic exhibit.jpg File:20141026 T-38 Talon Alliance Air Show 2014-7.jpg - Wikimedia ...
One image shows the Thunderbirds, one shows Golden Crown. It’s hard to tell which is which. Photos: Wikimedia Commons and Will Schlitzer (via Wikimedia Commons).

More recently, three HESA Saeqeh jets (modified F-5s, like the Kowsar) were painted in a near-replica of the US Navy Blue Angels’ paint scheme during test flights and flybys in 2007. The IRIAF even copied the Blue Angels’ famed cursive typeface, replacing the American team’s name with the words “Air Force”.

Unlike Golden Crown, neither the Blue Angels-livered Saeqehs nor the newly-delivered Kowsars appear to be fitted with smoke systems, on the basis of photos of the aircrafts’ tailpipes.

File:A HESA Saeqeh of IRIAF.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
A laughable likeness: Iranian jets (right) in a Blue Angels (left) colour scheme. Photos: Shahram Sharifi (via Wikimedia Commons) and David Leadingham (thisisflight.net).

It is extremely unlikely the aerobatic team will be seen outside Iran in the foreseeable future, but it’s probable that formation displays will be seen at domestic events such as military parades and the Iran Airshow in Kish. Iran’s claim that the fighters were domestically-produced will make the team a powerful propaganda tool, and senior officials have already declared today’s delivery as a sign of increasing strength in the face of international sanctions.

However, why the nation has, for over half a century, felt the need to repeatedly copy a selection of existing, seemingly-unrelated teams from around the world, rather than developing its own unique team identity, remains a mystery.

Red Arrows will move to Waddington after closure of RAF Scampton

LINCOLN |The RAF Red Arrows’ new base will be RAF Waddington, less than 10 miles south of their current base at Scampton, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

RAF Scampton, which is expected to close in around 2022, has been the home of the Red Arrows since 1983, with a brief move to RAF Cranwell between 1995 and 2000. However, they continued to use the airspace over Scampton for training. Although Scampton is expected to be sold off for redevelopment, the Red Arrows will continue to use its airspace for training after their move.

Waddington is one of five front-line RAF bases, home to the UK’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) fleet. This includes aircraft such as the E-3D Sentry, RC-135 Rivet Joint and Sentinel R1. Waddington was previously named as the Red Arrows’ new home in 2008, but the move was cancelled several years later.

The closure of RAF Scampton was announced in 2018 as part of a major cost-cutting exercise. Two other RAF bases were considered as potential new Red Arrows bases: RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire and RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire, however there was a strong local movement in Lincoln to keep the Red Arrows nearby.

The Ministry of Defence said it would look at ways to preserve Scampton’s “rich history”. During the second world war, Scampton was home to the infamous 617 Squadron, who staged the daring Dambusters raid in 1943. It was later a base for Vulcan bombers.

Australian International Airshow is first 2021 show to be postponed by coronavirus

AVALON | The Australian International Airshow has become the first 2021 airshow facing postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo: William Reid

Organisers are worried the show, originally scheduled for the 23rd-28th February, will face logistical problems and uncertainty about international travel, which they said would cause “unacceptable risk” to the trade portion of their event if the show were not to be rescheduled. Instead, organisers are considering holding the show in November 2021, with precise dates to be confirmed shortly.

With the show’s public days due to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force, it is important that the show goes ahead before the end of 2021, with the anniversary itself taking place on the 31st March. The Australian International Airshow is expected to be the largest airshow celebrating the anniversary.

The Royal Australian Air Force aways provide a strong mix of displays, featuring aircraft such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, F-35A Lightning, KC-30 MRTT, C-17A Globemaster, BAE Hawk 127, C-27 Spartan and others, although their participation at the 2021 show is expected to be particularly spectacular. It is also likely to feature the first Avalon performance of The Roulettes in their brand new Pilatus PC-21s.

Royal International Air Tattoo cancelled amid coronavirus outbreak

FAIRFORD | This year’s Royal International Air Tattoo, known as the world’s largest military airshow, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus, the first July airshow to be hit by the disease.

The airshow had been due to take place from the 17th-19th July at RAF Fairford, with performers such as the Patrouille Suisse, Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM and US Air Force F-16C expected to take part in the flying display.

The airshow organisers said: “This decision has not been taken lightly and a significant amount of work sits behind this course of action.  The crisis, which is worsening by the day, and the implications of which are becoming more profound, has led us to conclude that the most prudent course of action is to cease any further planning to deliver this significant event.

“The Air Tattoo is reliant on the support of a wide range of stakeholders, not least the participation of international air arms, medical professionals, military security teams and our Emergency Services, many of whom are delivering a fundamental contribution to fighting this crisis. We believe delivery of our event would distract them from this.

“At the heart of this difficult decision is our firm belief that staging the Air Tattoo this year would not only run counter to the current Government advice but would also be beyond what we could reasonably ask of our supporters. We recognise that our decision will have a negative financial impact on our valued suppliers and traders, on the local economy that benefits so much from the large influx of people who arrive in the area for one week in July, as well as on our parent charity. For this we apologise.”

Although dozens of airshows have already been cancelled globally due to the coronavirus, the Royal International Air Tattoo 2020 is the only one so far beyond mid-June to be scrapped. However, given its reliance on international air arms, the event is particularly vulnerable to global pandemics.

It is the third UK airshow to be officially cancelled, after the Midlands Air Festival and Duxford Air Festival were pulled from the calendar earlier in the week. Schools are to close to most pupils today, and 1.4 million Britons with underlying health conditions are being advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks, starting over the weekend. Follow the latest news as the outbreak continuis to affect the airshow industry on our coronavirus live blog.

The next Royal International Air Tattoo will be held on the 16th-18th July 2021, and will celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary. Remember if you want to re-live previous Air Tattoos, our 90-minute documentary on RIAT 2018 is available on our website!

New air race series promises races in 10 countries; first season starting in December 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since the publication of this article, the WCAR website has been taken down. This page refers to information available on the website before its removal.

A new website promoting the World Championship Air Race, the successor to the Red Bull Air Race, has been launched, appearing to provide the first official confirmation that the new series is under development.

The new website promises races in 10 countries spanning four continents, featuring 36 pilots. Although it is not yet clear who will be competing, photographs show former Red Bull Air Race Masterclass and Challenger Class pilots such as Juan Velarde, Kevin Coleman and Petr Kofpstein.

The race calendar, which is “coming soon”, will include “some of the world’s best cities”. The first series is scheduled to begin in December 2020, running until Q3 of 2021.

The World Championship Air Race claims to be “the new and improved continuation” of the Red Bull Air Race, which ended in 2019 after Red Bull pulled its support for the series. In January 2020, it was speculated that a continuation series had been set up by a Hong Kong investor, with the help of former Red Bull Air Race pilots and officials.

This includes Willie Cruickshank, the former head of aviation and sport at the Red Bull Air Race, who earlier told the Italian website MD80 that he had received a “positive response” from potential venues looking to host the new series. Mr Cuickshank will be the series director of the new sport.

Challenger Class pilot Dario Costa also confirmed he is involved in the development of the World Championship Air Race, while Masterclass racers Ben Murphy and Kirby Chambliss have expressed interest in racing again.

The 36 pilots promised on the new website is much more than the 14 Masterclass and 12 Challenger Class pilots who competed in the Red Bull Air Race, of whom several were also due to retire at the end of the 2019 season, meaning that an intake of new names is to be expected. These will likely be graduates of the WCAR Academy, a purpose-run course designed to teach prospective pilots the art of aerobatics and air racing.

Pilots will race in aircraft including the MXS-Racer, Edge 540 V2 and Edge 540 V3, according to the new website – all aircraft which competed in the final series of the Red Bull Air Race.

The website also promises other features, including live entertainment and hospitality.

While much remains unknown about the new racing series, fans will doubtless be delighted to see confident steps towards the revival of the much-loved Red Bull Air Race.

Patrulla Aguila jet crashes near San Javier, killing solo pilot

SAN JAVIER | The solo pilot of the Patrulla Aguila was killed in an accident near the team’s base in Murcia today, Thursday 27th February.

The Spanish Air Force confirmed that a C-101 Aviojet from the General Air Academy crashed into the sea near La Manga in an area commonly used for training flights. It was being flown by Patrulla Aguila’s solo pilot, Aguila #5 Commander Eduardo Fermín Garvalena, who did not eject.

Patrulla Aguila said they were “broken with pain” over the loss of their team mate, who had over 2,300 hours of flying experience. He flew the Eurofighter Typhoon before joining the General Air Academy in San Javier in 2017, joining Patrulla Aguila as the solo pilot for the 2019 season.

The Air Force said Cmdr. Garvalena was conducting a routine training flight at the time of the crash. However, as all Patrulla Aguila pilots also serve as flight instructors, it is has not been made explicitly clear whether he was flying with the team on his final sortie.

According to Murcia Today, the jet which crashed was one of the oldest in service, having been flying for over 30 years.

Patrulla Aguila have been Spain’s main national aerobatic team since 1985, and currently perform with seven C-101 Aviojets. The solo pilot is responsible for some of the team’s most daring manoeuvres, such as the tailslide and outside loop.

It is the third fatal crash of a General Air Academy plane in Murcia in seven months, with one of the previous accidents taking the life of former Patrulla Aguila soloist Comandante Francisco Marín. The ageing C-101, which first flew in 1977, is used as an advanced and basic jet trainer in the Spanish Air Force, although it is soon to be replaced in the basic jet training role by the Pilatus PC-21.

The Spanish Air Force had previously attempted to procure Korea Aerospace Industries T-50B Golden Eagles as advanced jet trainers, which would be used by Patrulla Aguila, but the deal did not come to fruition.

Although the Alenia M-345 is seen as the front tunner, it is not yet clear which design will replace the C-101 and F-5B in the advanced trainint role, or which type will eventually equip Patrulla Aguila. However, the initial order of 24 PC-21s is likely to be insufficient for Patrulla Aguila’s C-101s to be replaced for at least the next few years.

Swiss Air Force F/A-18C Hornet solo display dates 2020

The Swiss Air Force’s F/A-18C Hornet solo display schedule for 2020 has been released. They will perform abroad in the UK, and twice in France.

Date Show Location Country
May 2 France BA116 Luxeuil Open Day Saint-Sauveur France
Jun 13-14 France Meeting de l’Air Cognac – Châteaubernard France
Jun 27 Switzerland CONEX 20 Emmen Switzerland
Jul 18-19 United Kingdom Royal International Air Tattoo Fairford UK
Aug 21-22 Switzerland Acro Show Villeneuve Switzerland
Aug 29-30 Switzerland Dittinger Flugtage Dittinger Switzerland
Sep 12 Switzerland National Aerobatic Championships Bex Switzerland
Sep 20 Switzerland Montreux Acrobaties Montreux Switzerland
Sep 25 Switzerland Journée de Parents E av 81-2/20 Payerne Switzerland
Sep 26 Switzerland Geneva Airshow 2020: 100 ans de l’aéroport Geneva Switzerland
Oct 13-14 Switzerland AXALP Live Firing Exercise Axalphorn Switzerland

US Navy TACDEMO and Legacy Flight 2020 schedule

The US Navy will support 40 airshows this year with demonstrations and Legacy Flights, but only 11 shows will see full demonstrations, according to an early schedule.

The Super Hornet “TACDEMO” from VFA-106 – rebranded as the Rhino Demo Team – will fly at 11 shows, at which it may also perform Legacy Flights. VFA-125, flying the F-35C Lightning, will fly at ten, performing mini-demonstrations along with Legacy Flights, as will VAQ-129 with the EA-18G Growler.

Meanwhile, VFA-122 will fly Legacy Flights only at nine shows with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

The Legacy Flight organisation have not given details of which aircraft or unit will perform at individual shows, other than those which will see full Super Hornet tactical demonstrations from VFA-106.

Date Show Location Country Details
Mar 21-22 United States Los Angeles County Airshow Lancaster USA (CA) F-35C
Legacy Flight
Apr 4-5 United States Wings Over South Texas Kingsville USA (TX) Legacy Flight
Apr 18 United States Thunder Over Louisville Louisville USA (KY) F/A-18F
TACDEMOF-35C
Legacy Flight
May 23-24 United States Miami Beach Air & Sea Show Miami Beach USA (FL) F/A-18F
TACDEMO
May 30-31 United States Hangar 24 SBD AirFest San Bernardino USA (CA) Legacy Flight
Jun 6-7 United States Wildwood Airshow
Wildwood USA (NJ) F/A-18F
TACDEMO
Jun 6-7 United States California International Airshow Salinas USA (CA) F-35C
Legacy Flight
Jun 13-14 United States OC Airshow Ocean City USA (MD) F/A-18F
TACDEMO
Jun 20-21 United States Deke Slayton Airfest La Crosse USA (WI) Legacy Flight
Jun 27-28 United States Dayton Airshow Dayton USA (OH) Legacy Flight
Jun 27-28 United States Hill AFB: Utah Air Show – Warriors Over the Wasatch Ogden USA (UT) Legacy Flight
Jul 3-4 United States Thunder Over North Beach Racine USA (WI) F/A-18F
TACDEMO
Jul 4 United States Tacoma Freedom Fair & Airshow Tacoma USA (WA) Legacy Flight
Jul 4 United States Gig Harbor Wings & Wheels Tacoma USA (WA) Legacy Flight
Jul 18 United States Sentry Eagle: Kingsley Field Open House Klamath Falls USA (OR) Legacy Flight
Jul 23-26 United States EAA AirVenture Oshkosh USA (WI) F/A-18F
TACDEMO
Jul 24-26 United States Tri-City Water Follies: Thunder Over the River Kennewick USA (WA) Legacy Flight
Aug 7-9 Canada Abbotsford International Airshow Abbotsford Canada (BC) EA-18G
Legacy Flight
Aug 15-16 United States Chicago Air & Water Show Chicago USA (IL) F/A-18F
TACDEMO
Aug 22-23 United States Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Armed Forces Airshow Avoca USA (PA) Legacy Flight
Aug 29-30 United States New York Airshow New Windsor USA (NY) F/A-18F
TACDEMO
Aug 29-30 United States Thunder Over Michigan Ypsilanti USA (MI) Legacy Flight
Sep 5-6 United States Kansas City Airshow New Century USA (KS) Legacy Flight
Sep 18-20 United States STIHL National Championships Air Races Reno USA (NV) Legacy Flight
Sep 18-20 United States Great Pacific Airshow Huntington Beach USA (CA) Legacy Flight
Sep 19-20 United States NAS Oceana Airshow Virginia Beach USA (VA) F/A-18F
TACDEMO
Oct 10-11 United States Wings Over Houston Houston USA (TX) F/A-18F
TACDEMO
Oct 17-18 United States Fort Worth Alliance Airshow Fort Worth USA (TX) Legacy Flight
Oct 17-18 United States Central Coast AirFest Santa Maria USA (CA) Legacy Flight
Oct 24-25 United States Little Rock ARB: Thunder Over the Rock Little Rock USA (AR) Legacy Flight
Nov 5 United States Naval Base Ventura County Airshow (INCORRECT DATE?) Point Mugu USA (CA) Legacy Flight
Nov 6-8 United States New Orleans Airshow Belle Chasse USA (LA) Legacy Flight
Nov 14-15 United States Hangar 24 AirFest Lake Havasu USA (TX) Legacy Flight
Nov 14-15 United States JB San Antonio Air & Space Show Lackland USA (TX) F/A-18F
TACDEMO

Patrouille Suisse 2020 airshow schedule

The Patrouille Suisse of the Swiss Air Force have released their display schedule for the 2020 airshow season. They will perform abroad in the UK, Croatia, Germany, France and Italy.

Date Show Location Country
May 2 Switzerland Arbon Classics Thurgau Switzerland
May 16-17 Germany ILA Berlin Berlin Germany
May 30 Croatia Croatian International Military Airshow Zadar Croatia
Jun 6 Switzerland Tour de Suisse Frauenfeld Switzerland
Jun 13-14 France Meeting de l’Air Cognac – Châteaubernard France
Jun 27 Switzerland CONEX 20 Emmen Switzerland
Jul 18-19 United Kingdom Royal International Air Tattoo Fairford UK
Aug 15 Switzerland Seenachtsfest Lachen Switzerland
Aug 29 Switzerland GUISAN 2020 Sasso San Gottardo Switzerland
Aug 29 Switzerland Eidg. Jubiläums-Schwingfest Appenzell Switzerland
Aug 30 Switzerland Dittinger Flugtage Dittinger Switzerland
Sep 5 Switzerland Oldtimerclassic Hittnau Switzerland
Sep 19-20 Italy 60° Anniversario Frecce Tricolori Rivolto Italy
Oct 13-14 Switzerland AXALP Live Firing Exercise Axalphorn Switzerland

Jupiter Aerobatic Team turn back towards home after cancelling Singapore Airshow appearance

BATAM | Indonesia’s Jupiter Aerobatic Team made it within 30km of the Singapore Airshow before abruptly cancelling their visit and turning for home today.

Photo: Adam Landau

The team of six KT-1B Woongbis confirmed their participation in the prestigious show on Sunday 2nd February, flying to the event via the island of Batam, where they staged an aerial display. However, on Wednesday, the head of the Indonesian Air Force Information Service, Marsma Fajar Adriyanto, suddenly announced that the team would be turning back to their base in Yogyakarta.

Although no reason was given for the team’s cancellation, it could have been a move to protect the team from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, with 18 cases confirmed in Singapore so far. Also on Wednesday, China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force announced that their crack aerobatic team, August 1st, would be attending the event, supported by a pair of Il-76 transport aircraft based near the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began.

Photo: Tom Wittevrongel

The Republic of Korea’s own aerobatic team, the Black Eagles, had already cancelled their appearance at the show, again citing the coronavirus outbreak, and several exhibitors have pulled out.

Jupiter Aerobatic Team have twice flown at the Singapore Airshow; the team made their debut in 2014, but a diplomatic spat between Indonesia and Singapore saw the team abandon the event early. They returned in 2018, performing for the duration of the show.

The Singapore Airshow will be held on the 11th-16th February and will be open to the public on the final two days. For more information, read our guide to the Singapore Airshow.