Red Arrows Announce 2019 American Tour

Red Arrows Announce 2019 American Tour

The Red Arrows are set to carry out their largest ever tour of North America as they paint the skies of the US and Canada red, white and blue. 

Announcing the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team’s historic nine-week programme, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Red Arrows would display across the Americas, reaching millions of people and showcasing the very best of British aviation.

He said: “Our Red Arrows fly the flag for Britain across the globe, both in the skies and on the ground, and this tour will not only showcase their teamwork and aviation excellence, but also promote our great nation to billions of people across the world.

 The Red Arrows just recently concluded their 2018 show season celebrating RAF100. 

The Red Arrows just recently concluded their 2018 show season celebrating RAF100. 

“After an incredible year celebrating RAF100, it seems only fitting that the Red Arrows prepare to illuminate the skies of our closest allies in 2019, celebrating and strengthening our incredible relationship with the US.” 

The Red Arrows’ return to the US will mark the first significant deployment to North America in a generation, with the team last touring in the country in 1993.

And the start of the tour next year will see the first display the team has put on in the US in a decade, following a short visit by the Red Arrows to the east coast of the US in 2008.

 The Red Arrows fly past the Statue of Liberty during their last appearance in America in 2008. 

The Red Arrows fly past the Statue of Liberty during their last appearance in America in 2008. 

As well as displaying at a range of shows and events, the team will also attend engagements promoting the UK Government’s GREAT campaign, visit local schools, meet with business leaders and showcase the very best of British culture.

The tour is expected to generate £2.5bn in direct foreign investment for the UK.

Air Vice-Marshal Warren James, the senior RAF officer responsible for the Red Arrows, said: “The deployment of the Red Arrows will demonstrate the global reach and capability of the RAF and our continuing support of the United Kingdom’s defence and commerce industries.

“Together with the GREAT Britain campaign, Western Hawk 19 will showcase our excellence, professionalism and proud heritage in education, engineering, technology and finance to our allies.”

"We are very much looking forward to our visit in August and September of 2019.” 

The US programme comes after the Red Arrows’ successful 2016 Asia-Pacific and the Middle East tour.

The nine-week, 20,000-mile deployment visited 17 countries and drew a global audience of a billion people, with the team displaying in China for the first time.

 The Red Arrows fly past the Statue of Liberty during their last appearance in America in 2008. 

The Red Arrows fly past the Statue of Liberty during their last appearance in America in 2008. 

Blue Angels to Conduct Flyover of Georgia vs. Florida Game

Blue Angels to Conduct Flyover of Georgia vs. Florida Game

The United States Navy Blue Angels will be in Jacksonville, Florida October 27-28 for the annual NAS Jacksonville Air Show, and will be making a special appearance in the skies above TIAA Bank Field Saturday afternoon. 

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The annual Georgia vs. Florida rivalry is set to kickoff Saturday, October 27 at 3:30, and the Blue Angels will be conducting a flyover just prior to kickoff in their signature Delta formation. However, the 3:30 PM kickoff time interferes with the team’s normal 3:00 PM demonstration. To accommodate both the flyover and demonstration, the Blue Angels will conduct a rare 12:30 PM demonstration and then will perform again following the flyover just after 3:00 PM. On Sunday, the team will go back to one demonstration at 3:00 PM.

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Stay tuned for schedule updates and coverage of this rare full-day schedule for the Blue Angels next Saturday.

Air Forces Releases Report on Fatal Crash of Thunderbird 4

Air Forces Releases Report on Fatal Crash of Thunderbird 4

The United States Air Force has concluded its investigation on the April 4th crash of a Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon, piloted by Major Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno. The crash took the life of Major Del Bagno, and for months has been left up to speculation. Following the crash, the Thunderbirds stood down and cancelled several shows before returning to flying status, and have since brought back Major Nick “Khan” Krajicek to fly the slot position as Thunderbird 4.

According to the report, the cause of the crash was G-LOC, or G-induced loss of consciousness, during the High Bomb Burst Rejoin, the maneuver following the High Bomb Burst Cross. During that time, Major Del Bagno flew inverted experiencing up to 2.06 negative G’s and then immediately after pulled 8.56 positive G’s. The vast change in forces due to gravity led to absolute incapacitation for approximately 5 seconds, and by the time Del Bagno regained consciousness, he had only one second until his F-16 impacted the ground, in which there was not enough time for a complete recovery or ejection.

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The executive summary can be seen below:

On 4 April 2018, the mishap pilot (MP), flying a F-16CM, tail number (T/N) 91-0413, assigned to the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the “Thunderbirds,” 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV), engaged in a routine aerial demonstration training flight at the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) near Creech AFB, NV. During the training flight, at approximately 1029 local time, the mishap aircraft (MA) impacted the ground and fatally injured the MP, without an ejection attempt.

The mishap mission was planned and authorized as a practice of a Thunderbirds aerial demonstration in the south part of the NTTR. The mishap flight was a formation of six F-16CMs (Thunderbirds #1-6), the standard Thunderbirds aerial demonstration flight. Thunderbird #4 was the MA/MP. During the High Bomb Burst Rejoin, an aerial maneuver near the scheduled end of the aerial demonstration training flight, the MP flew the MA for approximately 22 seconds in inverted flight between 5,500 and 5,700 feet above ground level. During this time, the MP experienced a change in force due to acceleration measured in multiples of the acceleration of gravity felt at the earth’s surface (G), between -0.5 to -2.06 G’s. While experiencing -2.06 G’s in inverted flight, the MP initiated a descending half-loop maneuver (Split-S). After five seconds in the Split-S, the MP attained a maximum +8.56 G’s. The MP experienced G-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC) and absolute incapacitation at the end of that five-second period.

For approximately the next five seconds, the MP remained in a state of absolute incapacitation and made no deliberate flight control inputs as the MA accelerated toward the ground. Approximately one second prior to ground impact, the MP began deliberate flight control inputs as he transitioned from absolute to relative incapacitation. The MA impacted the ground at 57 degrees nose low with 89 degrees of left bank and the MP was fatally injured on impact, without an ejection attempt.

The Accident Investigation Board (AIB) President found by a preponderance of evidence the cause of the mishap was the MP’s G-LOC during the Split-S portion of the High Bomb Burst Rejoin maneuver. Additionally, the AIB President found by a preponderance of evidence two factors substantially contributed to the mishap: (a) the MP’s diminished tolerance to +G’s induced by the physiology of the MP’s exposure to –G’s (“Push-Pull Effect”) and (b) an associated decrease in the effectiveness of the MP’s Anti-G straining maneuver under those conditions.

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Redline Air Shows Pilot Jon Thocker Killed in Friday Night's Crash

Redline Air Shows Pilot Jon Thocker Killed in Friday Night's Crash

CULPEPER, VA — Redline Air Shows Pilot Jon Thocker has died following a crash Friday night during a night performance at the Culpeper Air Fest. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Redline Air Shows is a dynamic two-ship formation aerobatic team with more than 12 years of experience. Jon was a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, retired from a 25-year career as an airline captain.

The team had performed more than a dozen air shows already in 2018, and had just recently unveiled and began flying their new Vans RV-8’s, which team Redline built themselves. One of the team’s specialties includes night performances with pyrotechnics, which Ken and Jon were showcasing at the time of the crash.

 Ken Rieder and Jon Thocker perform their night show earlier this year.

Ken Rieder and Jon Thocker perform their night show earlier this year.

The Culpeper Air Fest has announced a decision for Saturday’s show will be announced this morning, so stay tuned to our social media as well as the Culpeper Air Fest’s social media for the latest updates.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jon’s friend and family, as well as best friend and teammate Ken Rieder.

 Pictured is Jon’s new RV-8, which he recently finished and began flying earlier this year.

Pictured is Jon’s new RV-8, which he recently finished and began flying earlier this year.

2019 Wings Over Myrtle Beach Air Show Cancelled

2019 Wings Over Myrtle Beach Air Show Cancelled

2019 MYRTLE BEACH AIR SHOW CANCELED – Horry County and Airport officials notified JLC AirShow Management on August 21 that the agreement to produce the scheduled 2019 Wings Over Myrtle Beach Air Show will not be approved.

Horry County’s Letter To JLC AirShow Management states -- “As the result of airfield constraints, anticipated construction projects, and other ongoing issues, please be advised that Horry County cannot consent to any airshow renewal options as contemplated in that Agreement for professional Services between Horry County and JLC Airshow Management, LLC.”

JLC AirShow Management is disappointed that the scheduled May 4-5, 2019 air show headlining the USAF Thunderbirds will not occur.  Team JLC would like to say THANK-YOU to the Myrtle Beach and Horry County community that worked so hard to make the 2018 air show a successful event.

On a positive note, JLC Airshow Management President John Cowman says “not to fret, we have another show site on the horizon!” JLC Airshow Management has successfully put on shows in three major cities within the last two years, including their annual Wings Over North Georgia Air Show in Rome, Georgia, 2017’s Wings Over Golden Isles Air Show in Brunswick, Georgia, and this past spring’s Wings Over Myrtle Beach Air Show. Stay tuned to see where JLC Airshow Management is going next!

 Major John “Rain” Waters soars over Myrtle Beach this past April during the inaugural Wings Over Myrtle Beach Air Show. 

Major John “Rain” Waters soars over Myrtle Beach this past April during the inaugural Wings Over Myrtle Beach Air Show. 

Blue Angels Select 2019 Officers

Blue Angels Select 2019 Officers

PENSACOLA, Florida — U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, announced officers selected for the 2019 air show season, Aug. 1.

The squadron selected three F/A-18 demonstration pilots, an events coordinator, flight surgeon, and supply officer to replace outgoing team members.

Each officer was recommended for selection by Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Gregory Harris, and ultimately approved by Commander, Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, for final selection to the 2019 Blue Angels team.

Many highly qualified Navy and Marine Corps officers submit applications to join the Blue Angels each year.

“It was an impressive slate of applicants this year,” said Cmdr. Eric Doyle, commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels. “Every officer that applied represented the high caliber of personnel serving in our Navy and Marine Corps. It was a hard decision, but one that will ultimately lead to an amazing 2019 show season.”

The Blue Angels select “finalists” to interview at the team's home base of Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, during the week of the Pensacola Beach Air Show each year. The team makes selections at the conclusion of that week.

The newly selected 2019 officers include:

F/A-18 Demonstration Pilots:

Navy Lt. James Cox, 35, of Chesapeake, Virginia, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic. He graduated from James Madison University in 2005.

Navy Lt. James Haley, 31, of Canadian, Texas, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to the “Gladiators” of VFA-106. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2009.

Navy Lt. Cary Rickoff, 31, of Atlanta, Georgia, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to the “Golden Eagles” of VT-22. He graduated from Duke University in 2009.

Events Coordinator:

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Adam Kerrick, 35, of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, is a Naval flight officer currently assigned to the “Star Warriors” of Electronic Attack Squadron 209. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2005.

Flight Surgeon:

Navy Lt. Aaron Hicks, 33, of Federal Way, Washington, is a flight surgeon currently assigned to Carrier Air Wing 17. He graduated from Western Washington University in 2007. 

Supply Officer:

Navy Lt. j.g. Kristin Toland, 31, of Sedalia, Missouri, is a supply officer currently assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 1. She graduated from Columbia College in 2012.

Pre-selected to join the 2019 team was:

Executive Officer:

Navy Cmdr. William Schomer, 48, of Lorain, Ohio, is currently the air operations officer for Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. He graduated from Jacksonville University in 2006.

Expected to return for the 2019 season are:

Commanding Officer / Flight Leader:

Navy Cmdr. Eric Doyle, 44, of League City, Texas.

F/A-18 Demonstration Pilots:

Marine Corps Maj. Jeff Mullins, 36, of Memphis, Tennessee.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brandon Hempler, 33, of Wamego, Kansas.

Navy Lt. Andre Webb, 35, of Lawton, Oklahoma.

C-130 Demonstration Pilots:

Marine Maj. Mark Montgomery, 38, of Cartersville, Georgia.

Marine Maj. Kyle Maschner, 35, of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Marine Capt. Beau Mabery, 29, of Lompoc, California.

Maintenance Officer:

Navy Lt. Garrett Hopkins, 39, of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Public Affairs Officer:

Navy Lt. David Gardner, 37, of Warrensburg, Missouri

The new team members will officially begin their training for the 2019 show season following the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show at Naval Air Station Pensacola Nov. 3.

The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the pride and

professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.

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Thunderbirds Select 2019 Officers

Thunderbirds Select 2019 Officers

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Holmes, has officially selected the officers who will be joining the United States Air Force Thunderbirds for the 2019 demonstration season.

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Lt. Col. John Caldwell, 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron Commander, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will become Thunderbird No. 1, the squadron’s Commander/Leader. As the two-fold duty title implies, his responsibilities will include commanding a force of more than 120 enlisted personnel and 11 commissioned officers assigned to the Thunderbirds, along with leading all demonstration flights. Caldwell will replace Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh.

Capt. Michael Brewer, 334th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., has been selected as Thunderbird No. 3, the team’s Right Wing Pilot. He will fly as close as 3 feet from the No. 1 jet during flight formations, demonstrating the teamwork and precision of America’s Air Force. Brewer will replace Maj. Nate Hofmann.

Maj. Whit Collins, the current Lead Solo Pilot, will transition to the Slot Pilot position as Thunderbird No. 4 in 2019. Like Brewer, Collins will also fly in close formation with the other demonstration pilots, just aft of the No. 1 aircraft and between the two wingmen. Collins will replace Maj. Nick Krajicek.

Capt. Michelle Curran, 355th Fighter Squadron, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, has been chosen as Thunderbird No. 6, the team’s Opposing Solo Pilot. The solo pilots perform maneuvers that showcase the maximum capabilities of the F-16 aircraft. Maj. Matt Kimmel, the current Opposing Solo Pilot, will transition to the Lead Solo position in 2019.

Maj. Jason Markzon, 35th Maintenance Operations Flight Commander and F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot assigned to the 13th Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan, will become Thunderbird No. 8, the team’s Advance Pilot and Narrator. His duties will include advancing to show sites ahead of the team, coordinating logistical details with the local show organizers, and narrating to the crowd during performances. Markzon will replace Maj. Branden Felker.

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Noel Colls, a flight surgeon and family practice resident assigned to the 60th Medical Operations Squadron Travis Air Force Base, Calif., will become Thunderbird No. 9, the team’s Flight Surgeon. He will provide medical care for more than 130 squadron members and keep the team in optimal health. Colls will replace Maj. (Dr.) William Goncharow.

“This year’s exceptional officer applicant pool reflects the incredible degree of talent, motivation and diversity that exists throughout our Air Force. It was a tough selection process, but ultimately these officers rose to the top.” Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh said. “The Thunderbirds are proud to welcome these leaders aboard as they assume responsibility for showcasing the pride, precision and professionalism of more than 660,000 total force Airmen serving around the world.”

The 12 officer positions on the team are two-year tours of duty. By design, the position openings are staggered, allowing the squadron to maintain continuity of experience and leadership. In 2020, Thunderbird Nos. 2, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 12 will be replaced.

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Gunfighter Skies Air & Space Celebration Will go on as Planned

Gunfighter Skies Air & Space Celebration Will go on as Planned

Air show officials have announced Sunday’s Gunfighter Skies Air & Space Celebration will go on as planned following Saturday’s incident that took the life of world famous hang glider pilot Dan Buchanan. 

Air Show Officials have said they will dedicate Sunday’s show to the life of Dan and will honor him throughout the show. They also stated that spectators will have an opportunity to memorialize him at the show.

The Thunderbirds’ performance Saturday was cancelled following the incident, but the team will fly on Sunday. Gates open at 8:30 AM, and the flying begins at 10:30. 

Stay tuned to our social media and website for the latest updates. 

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Dan Buchanan Passes Away Following Incident at Mountain Home AFB

Dan Buchanan Passes Away Following Incident at Mountain Home AFB

Dan Buchanan, the air show industry’s most well known hang glider act, has passed away following an incident at the Gunfighter Skies Air & Space Celebration at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.

Witnesses say Dan’s hang glider crash landed on the west side of the base, and Dan was rushed to the hospital where he passed away due to injuries. The remainder of Saturday’s show was cancelled, and the fate of Sunday’s show is yet to be determined. 

Stay tuned to our social media and website for the latest updates. 

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GEICO Skytypers Pilot Ken Johansen Killed in Wednesday’s Crash

GEICO Skytypers Pilot Ken Johansen Killed in Wednesday’s Crash

Cover photo by Richard Souza, Air Museum Network

Ken Johansen has been identified as the pilot killed in this Wednesday’s crash. The GEICO Skytypers have provided us with the following statement:

”There was a fatal accident today with one of the Skytypers aircraft as it was departing Republic Airport on Long Island, NY. Teammate and executive officer, Ken Johansen, was killed in the crash that resulted. No one was injured on the ground. Ken was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a Naval aviator, and a professional airline pilot. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

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A careful and thorough investigation is already underway. We are working with local law enforcement, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board. Our thoughts are with Ken and his family.”

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GEICO Skytyper Crashes on Long Island

GEICO Skytyper Crashes on Long Island

A GEICO Skytyper Pilot has died after his SNJ crashed shortly after takeoff from Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, New York. The crash took place in Melville, New York, just north of the airport where the famous Skytypers were based for this past weekend’s Memorial Day Air Show over Jones Beach. The team also calls Republic Airport their summer home in between air shows.

 Photo courtesy of Lauren Peller

Photo courtesy of Lauren Peller

The GEICO Skytypers were scheduled to perform this weekend at the NAS Pax River Air Expo in Patuxent River, Maryland. The name of the pilot is unknown at this time, and it is unlikely the team will perform this weekend. Stay tuned to our page for the latest updates.

 Photo courtesy of Lauren Peller

Photo courtesy of Lauren Peller

 Photo courtesy of Lauren Peller

Photo courtesy of Lauren Peller

Thunderbirds Resume 2018 Schedule at Langley AFB

Thunderbirds Resume 2018 Schedule at Langley AFB

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have announced they are approved to resume public aerial demonstrations, and will resume their 2018 Air show season this weekend at AirPower Over Hampton Roads at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. 

Major Nick “Khan” Krajicek will make his debut with the 2018 team this weekend after joining the team at the end of April following the loss of Major Stephen Del Bagno. The Thunderbirds cancelled appearances at six show sites following the mishap April 5th. 

Stay tuned to our social media as well as our websites for updates throughout the week as the Thunderbirds return to the skies for the public for just the second time in 2018.  

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Major Krajicek to Return as Thunderbird 4 for 2018

Major Krajicek to Return as Thunderbird 4 for 2018

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - Maj. Nick "Khan" Krajicek has been named as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron's Thunderbird 4/Slot Pilot for the remainder of the 2018 show season.

Krajicek is an experienced Thunderbird alumnus who performed as the Slot Pilot during the 2016 and 2017 show seasons.

"We're grateful to have Khan coming back to the team," said Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, Thunderbird 1, Commander/Leader. "His experience and familiarity with our team's mission and the demonstration profile make him the right choice as we safely make our way back on the road to recruit, retain and inspire once more."

To facilitate Krajicek's requalification training, the Thunderbirds' participation at the Charleston Air Show and the Fort Lauderdale Air Show have been canceled.

The team's participation in the Laughlin AFB Air Show and the Air Power over Hampton Roads air shows are being evaluated and are dependent on the team's readiness to perform a safe 6-ship aerial demonstration.

Krajicek has logged more than 3,400 flight hours as a military pilot, with more than 650 hours of combat experience. He flew UH-60 Blackhawks in the Army, is an F-16C/D Fighting Falcon instructor pilot and commissioned into the Air Force in 2004.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

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U.S. Navy Tac Demo Team Releases 2018 Schedule

U.S. Navy Tac Demo Team Releases 2018 Schedule

The United States Navy has released the 2018 schedule for the U.S. Navy Tac Demo Team. The schedule is sizeably smaller than usual, with the explanation appearing below.

April 14 - SUN ‘n FUN - Lakeland, FL

April 21 - Thunder Over Louisville - Louisville, KY

May 5 - Ford Lauderdale Air Show - Fort Lauderdale, FL

May 26 - Miami Beach Air and Space Show - Miami Beach, FL

The following shows are approved for TACDEMO participation; however, actual participation will be determined in May:

June 9 - Thunder of Niagra - Niagra Falls, NY

June 30 - Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show - Battle Creek, MI

Both VFA-106 and VFA-122 are Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS), sometimes referred to by the old Navy term “RAG” or Replacement Air Group. The primary mission of each squadron is to provide the fleet with trained replacement aircrew to support fleet requirements. At this time, each squadron must focus on training newly winged aviators and flight officers on employing the Super Hornet to defend our country. This mission must take priority over flying these remarkable aircraft at air shows.

 

Thunderbird 1 Releases Statement Following Fatal Crash

Thunderbird 1 Releases Statement Following Fatal Crash

Hello everybody. I wanted take a moment to provide you all an update here at the Thunderbirds. As you likely know, last Wednesday Thunderbird Four, Major Stephen Del Bagno, callsign: Cajun, was killed when his aircraft crashed during a training mission here at the Nevada Test and Training Range.

His loss comes as a shock to his family, friends and wingmen. We remember Cajun as an Airman, a warrior, a talented fighter pilot and a great friend with more than thirty five hundred flight hours in over thirty different aircraft. He lived to fly and inspire the next generation.

Right now we have three priorities. First, we’re taking care of Cajun’s family. The Air Force and the Thunderbirds are making sure they have all the assistance they need in this difficult time. This week, we’ll host his family for a memorial service where we’ll honor Cajun’s legacy and celebrate his amazing life.

Second, we are taking care of our squadron. We are a resilient team of high-performing professionals and we’re holding each other up, but we recognize we can’t always do it all alone, which is why we have a robust network of agencies supporting us as we mourn and recover.

Third, when the time is right, we’ll get back to executing our mission: to recruit, retain and inspire.

Moving forward, we’ll press on with the full faith and confidence of our leadership in pursuing these objectives.

In order to facilitate support to the family and team, and to ensure the safety of our flight operations, we’ll be cancelling our performances at Lakeland and Columbus Air Force Base. Further cancellations may occur and we’ll keep you posted as the schedule takes shape.

In closing, I’d like to thank all of our family, friends, fans and alumni out there who have been a tremendous source of strength this week. Thousands upon thousands of you have offered kind words of encouragement, condolences and loving tributes to Cajun’s legacy. We are deeply moved by your compassion and we ask that you continue to keep Cajun and his family in your thoughts. Thank you.

Thunderbirds Cancel SUN ‘n FUN Appearance Following Crash

Thunderbirds Cancel SUN ‘n FUN Appearance Following Crash

As you may have expected, due to protocols associated with their recent mishap and fatality, the USAF Thunderbirds have officially given notice that they will not be participating in #SNF18.

“Though we are deeply saddened by their loss of a valuable teammate, we totally understand and support the Thunderbirds’ decision. They have a requirement to take the necessary time to assess their current situation and plot a path forward, and we certainly respect their professionalism and diligence in ensuring their safe return to airshows,” said John Leenhouts, SUN 'n FUN President/CEO.

While the Thunderbirds will certainly be missed, the SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In will continue as scheduled with its week-long convention, including its impressive array of military and civilian airshow demonstrations. Scheduled acts include the U.S. Navy TAC DEMO F/A 18 Super Hornet, the dramatic and realistic Tora Tora Tora Airshows' Pearl Harbor reenactment, rare warbirds like the P-38 and A-20, and over 60 performances during the week, making it the largest aviation event in the South.

Airshow Director Greg Gibson also confirmed that the USAF Air Combat Command (ACC) has reached out to SUN ‘n FUN and committed to the effort of finding alternative USAF demonstrations to come to the event.

“We appreciate ACC’s efforts on our behalf in such a short timeframe,” Gibson said. “They are working to make available a potential first-line combat aircraft to perform full aerial displays and/or engage in Heritage Flights with several of the numerous rare WWII fighters we have in attendance this year. We will make periodic announcements throughout the following days as these appearances are confirmed.”

Leenhouts also confirmed that this year’s daily airshows will include several activities to honor the service of Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, the fallen Thunderbird Number 4, and that a portion of the proceeds from this year’s event will be donated through the proper channels to support the Thunderbird family.

Thunderbirds Pilot Killed in Wednesday’s Crash Identified

Thunderbirds Pilot Killed in Wednesday’s Crash Identified

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron Slot Pilot Thunderbird 4, Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, was killed when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed over the Nevada Test and Training Range April 4, 2018 at approximately 10:30 a.m. during a routine aerial demonstration training flight.

"We are mourning the loss of Major Del Bagno," said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander. "He was an integral part of our team and our hearts are heavy with his loss. We ask everyone to provide his family and friends the space to heal during this difficult time."

An investigation is being conducted into the cause of the mishap.

The team's participation at the March Air Reserve Base "The March Field Air & Space Expo" has been canceled.  It is unknown how this accident will impact the remainder of the 2018 Thunderbirds Season.

Stay tuned to our website and social media for more details as they are released. 

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Thunderbirds Pilot Killed In Routine Training Flight Wednesday

Thunderbirds Pilot Killed In Routine Training Flight Wednesday

 NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.— A U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds pilot was killed when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed over the Nevada Test and Training Range today at approximately 10:30 a.m. during a routine aerial demonstration training flight. The identity of the pilot is being withheld for 24-hours pending next of kin notification. An investigation is being conducted into the cause of the mishap.

The team’s participation at the March Air Reserve Base “The March Field Air & Space Expo” has been cancelled. It is unknown how this accident will impact the remainder of the 2018 Thunderbirds Season.

More information will be provided as it becomes available. Stay tuned to our website and social media for more updates. 

Rob Holland Okay Following Engine Failure and Crash Landing

Rob Holland Okay Following Engine Failure and Crash Landing

Aerobatic superstar Rob Holland is reportedly okay following a crash landing Sunday, March 25 following the conclusion of the NAS Kingsville Air Show. Rob posted this statement regarding the incident on his Facebook page:

Moving Forward

For all those who know or don’t know, I thought I would fill you in about the events of the past few days.

First to get it out of the way, I’m 100% fine.

That said, On March 25th I took off from NAS Kingsville, Texas at about 4:30pm for a cross-country flight to Shreveport, Louisiana.  About 15 minutes into the flight, level at 11,500 ft., I had a catastrophic engine failure and lost all engine power. I will not speculate as to the cause of the failure and will let the FAA and NTSB finish their investigation.

The Canopy was immediately covered with oil and I had zero forward visibility.

I quickly determined that an off-field landing was not the best option given the terrain. Also, using the parachute was also not a good option due to very high wind speed at the surface.  There was one “airport” within gliding distance and I immediately aimed for it.  Thank you to MGL Avionics for such an awesome EFIS system, which helped tremendously for my situational awareness.

There was a low scattered-to-broken cloud layer around the vicinity of my landing site which obstructed my view of the runway (I still could only see directly out of the side of the plane due to the oil on the canopy).  I glided through an opening in the clouds using GPS as a reference for the location of the airport.

It turns out what I thought was a private airstrip was actually an abandoned airport that was about 30 ft. wide and only 1,650 ft. long (interesting that it is still listed in the FAA Database as an airport).  When I finally got low enough so that the clouds no longer obstructed my view of the runway, I was at 700 ft. and committed to making a downwind landing because of my position.

I lined up on the runway as best I could, still having zero forward visibility.  I touched down on the runway at about 90 kts. (normal speed for this plane), but with a 20+ knot tailwind bringing my forward speed to 110kts.  

What I couldn’t see due to the oil on my canopy was a large piece of someone’s roof on the runway that had blown there by Hurricane Harvey.  After about 200 ft. of landing roll, the left main landing gear struck that piece of debris ripping the landing gear completely off the plane.  The plane skidded on its belly down the runway, departing to the side of the runway, coming to rest about 30 ft. off the right side of the runway.  The plane remained upright and straight the entire time.

I assessed that I was physically ok, turned off the fuel, the mags, and all electrical power, and then departed the plane.

I have to throw out another HUGE thank you to Hooker Harness and BoneHead Composites for an AMAZING SAFETY BELT SYSTEM and FANTASTIC HELMET, both of which undoubtedly prevented me from suffering any injuries, it was a pretty violent ride when the gear came off.

Lastly I’d like to express my gratitude to MX Aircraft Company.  The airframe did an amazing job of absorbing impact energy helping to protect me from injury. Unfortunately the damage to the airplane is too extensive to repair. I am already working with MX Aircraft and there will be a new plane in the future, updates and details will follow.

The next week or so will be very busy for me moving forward with as little (hopefully none) disruption to my schedule as possible.

There are too many people to name here but thank you to my family, friends, sponsors and supporters for all your help, well wishes, and thoughts.

Blue Skies,

Rob

Nellis AFB Cancels 2018 Air and Space Expo

Nellis AFB Cancels 2018 Air and Space Expo

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  –The US Air Force Warfare Center Commander, Maj. Gen. Peter Gersten, announced Nellis Air Force Base will not host a 2018 Air and Space Expo but instead begin planning for the 2019 Air and Space Expo.

“We had an outstanding Air and Space Expo last year that many will not soon forget,” Gersten said. “This year will be an exceptionally busy year for the men and women of Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases as we take on new and more complex missions and systems while simultaneously increasing the Air Force’s lethality and leading our readiness recovery.”

Last year’s 2017 Air and Space Expo was off of the routine biennial schedule as a special event to celebrate the Air Force’s 70th birthday which drew a crowd of nearly 160,000 attendees over the three day open house.

This schedule update also provides an opportunity to move the Air and Space Expo to the weekend after Veteran’s Day to de-conflict with other city events traditionally held on November 11th.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Southern Nevada community, and the 2019 Air and Space Expo is a way for us to show people who normally don’t have the opportunity to see what we do here at Nellis; we are where warfighters get their PhD in lethality, ” he added.

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