YPSILANTI | Thunder Over Michigan has become the second show of 2021 to secure both of the US military’s jet aerobatic teams, the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.
Held at Willow Run Airport on the 7th-8th August, Thunder Over Michigan was already due to feature the Thunderbirds, with the Blue Angels announcing their participation earlier today (14th July). Although it is rare to for a show to host both teams, a sparser-than-usual airshow season already saw both teams perform at the KC Airshow earlier this month. Previously, they had not flown at the same show since 2019, and before that, 2007.
To maximise spectator numbers while allowing for a drive-in format, the airshow will be held in two halves – one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with tickets for each half being sold seperately. It is likely that each team will perform once daily, with one team acting as the headliner for each slot.
As well as the double jet team headliner, the event will also feature solo displays from the USAF’s F-35A Lightning II demonstration team, the US Navy’s EA-18G Growler demonstration team and a variety of warbirds, including 17 B-25 Mitchells.
KECSKEMET | This year’s Kecskemet Airshow is to feature one of the best military airshow line ups of 2021, according to information released by the event’s organisers over the past two weeks.
The star-studded line up for the seven-hour flying display is to include aerobatic teams such as the Turkish Stars, Saudi Hawks, Krila Oluje (Wings of Storm) and Aerobatic Team Orlik, with the Turkish and Saudi teams making their Hungarian debuts.
Solo displays at this year’s event will include a Typhoon FGR.4 from the UK, F-2000A Typhoon and C-27J Spartan from Italy, Czech L-159 ALCA, JAS-39C Gripen, Mi-171 and Mi-24, Swedish SK-60, Romanian MiG-21 and an Embraer KC-390.
The Hungarian armed forces will also stage a half-hour “total capability demonstration” featuring fast jets, helicopters and transport aircraft, working in collaboration with troops on the ground.
Last held in 2010 and 2013, the Kecskemet Airshow is the Hungarian Armed Forces’ showcase event. It also has a track record of enticing aerobatic teams not usually seen in the EU, such as the Russian Knights eight years ago. In early 2021, the Russian Knights announced their participation in this year’s show, but they have not been mentioned in more recent press releases or schedules.
In addition to their tickets, adult visitors must bring photo ID and proof of being fully vaccinated against coronavirus to be permitted entry.
Photo: Indian Air Force (via Twitter)
Images show the team’s aircraft being carried aboad a C-17 transport aircraft en-route to the Russian aerospace trade show, marking the team’s first visit to the country and the first participation of an Indian-built aircraft in the event’s flying display.
Formed in 2003 and based at Sulur AFS in Tamil Nadu, Sarang are the Indian Air Force’s secondary aerobatic team, flying four Indian-built HAL Dhruv helicopters. Their overseas debut came at the Singapore Airshow 2004, followed by a UK tour in 2008. Sarang have already performed at one event abroad this year in Colombo, Sri Lanka, as well as participating in Aero India, where they staged the world’s first combined display of jet-powered and rotary-wing display teams, flying with the Indian Air Force’s main aerobatic team, Surya Kiran.
Photo: Ministry of Defence, Government of India
MAKS 2021 is only the second major in-person trade airshow to go ahead since the coronavirus pandemic took hold last spring. Airbus will be bringing its A350-1000 to the event for the first time, but it is Russia’s own aerospace industry that will take centrestage, with the Sukhoi Su-35 and Su-57E expected to be highlights of the flying display. Participating teams will include the Russian Knights, Swifts, Russian Falcons and Berkuts from the Russian Air Force and the civilian First Flight aerobatic team.
The event will be held at Zhukovsky Airport on the outskirts of Moscow on the 20th-25th July.
Organisers had previously signalled their intention to host the Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles in 2021, which this website covered with some scepticism last year. With the Black Eagles currently busy in their home country and no further mention of the team in connection with MAKS 2021, these plans appear not to have come to fruition.
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.