USAF to help kickoff 2017 NFL season

USAF to help kickoff 2017 NFL season

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have had a busy weekend. They performed a high show over Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma Saturday afternoon, and then quickly turned the jets for a transit to Joint Base Andrews in Washington D.C.

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Good news for football fans and Air show fans alike! The Thunderbirds will takeoff from Joint Base Andrews within the next hour and will circle over Washington D.C. Before flying over FedEx Field to kickoff the NFL's week one game between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. The team's time over target is around 1:00 PM eastern time. 

The last time the Thunderbirds flew over an NFL game was back on February 5th when they team flyover NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas for Super Bowl LI. Following Sunday's flyover, the team will enjoy a week in Washington D.C. Before performing September 16-17 at Joint Base Andrews for the 2017 JB Andrews Air Show! 

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Additionally, a B-2 Spirit Bomber will fly over Soldier Field in Chicago to help kickoff the week one matchup between the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons! Time over target in Chicago is also around 1:00 PM eastern time! 

Make sure to tune into FOX at 1:00 PM and check out our social feeds for coverage of the flyovers!

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Blue Angels Announce 2018 Pilots and Officers

Blue Angels Announce 2018 Pilots and Officers

PENSACOLA, Florida — U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, announced officers selected for the 2018 air show season, July 8.

 The squadron selected two F/A-18 demonstration pilots, a C-130 demonstration pilot, maintenance officer, and public affairs officer to join a previously selected commanding officer on the 2018 team.

Each officer was recommended for selection by Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. James Bynum, and ultimately approved by Chief of Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, for final selection to the 2018 Blue Angels team. 

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

 "I am incredibly impressed by the quality, professionalism, and talent of the Sailors and Marines who apply for this team," said Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi, commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels. "We’re going to field a superb team next year and I am excited to see them continue the legacy of representing the pride and professionalism of the Navy and Marine Corps."

 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 2018 officers include:

 

F/A-18 Demonstration Pilots:

 Marine Maj. Jeffrey Mullins, 30, of Memphis, Tennessee, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 31. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2006.

Navy Lt. Andre Webb, 31, of Lawton, Oklahoma, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to the “Golden Eagles” of Training Squadron (VT) 22. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2008.

 

C-130 Demonstration Pilots:

Marine Capt. Beau Mabery, 28, of Lompoc, California, is a C-130 Hercules pilot currently assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011.

 

Maintenance Officer: 

Navy Lt. Garrett Hopkins, 38, of Charlotte, North Carolina, is a maintenance officer currently assigned to Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Detachment (SFWPD) Fallon. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2009.

 

Public Affairs Officer:

Navy Lt. David Gardner, 36, of Warrensburg, Missouri, is a public affairs officer currently assigned to the USS Makin Island (LHD 8). He graduated from the University of Central Missouri in 2003.

 

Pre-selected to join the 2018 team was:

 

Commanding Officer, Flight Leader: 

Navy Cmdr. Eric Doyle, 43, of League City, Texas.

 

Expected to return for the 2018 season are:

 

F/A-18 Demonstration Pilots:

Navy Lt. Damon Kroes, 35, of Fremont, California.

Navy Lt. Nate Scott, 32, of Danville, California.

Navy Lt. Tyler Davies, 35, of Kennesaw, Georgia.

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

 

C-130 Demonstration Pilots:

Marine Maj. Mark Montgomery, 37, of Cartersville, Georgia.

Marine Maj. Kyle Maschner, 34, of Scottsdale, Arizona.

 

Executive Officer:

Navy Cmdr. Matt Kaslik, 44, of The Woodlands, Texas.

 

Events Coordinator:

Navy Lt. Dave Steppe, 32, of Birmingham, Alabama.

 

Flight Surgeon:

Navy Lt. Juan Guerra, 32, of Ocala, Florida.

 

Supply Officer:

Navy Lt. Bryan Pace, 33, of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 

Administration Officer: 

Navy Lt. j.g. Timothy Hawkins, 38, of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

 

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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Pensacola Beach Week Includes More Than Just Precision Flying

Pensacola Beach Week Includes More Than Just Precision Flying

The United States Navy Blue Angels kicked off Pensacola Beach Week this morning with Breakfast with the Blues. The team can be seen in the skies above their hometown throughout the remainder of the week. 

However, Pensacola Beach Week includes more than just precision flying. Each year during Beach Week, the Blue Angels invite a select group of finalists to join the team at their home base in Pensacola. 

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There, the finalists endure an intensive interview process, and they get their first opportunity to see how the team operates on a daily basis. Each year, the Blue Angels generally select three tactical fighter pilots from both the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. Additionally, they select one C-130 pilot, and two support officers.

Commander Eric Doyle was announced earlier this year as the new Commanding Officer for the 2018 season. He will take over the role of Commander Ryan Bernacchi. A new Public Affairs Officer will be amongst those to join the team this November.

Lt. Joe Hontz, 2017 Public Affairs Officer, poses with 2018 Public Affairs Officer finalists.  

Lt. Joe Hontz, 2017 Public Affairs Officer, poses with 2018 Public Affairs Officer finalists.  

The 2018 selected officers are expected to be announced towards the end of the week, and we'll let you know as soon as that happens.  

Thunderbirds Annouce 2018 Officer Selections

Thunderbirds Annouce 2018 Officer Selections

June 30, 2017 – 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 2018 demonstration season.

Capt. William Graeff, 88th Fighter Training Squadron, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, has been selected as Thunderbird No. 2, the team’s left 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. Graeff will replace Maj. Ryan Bodenheimer.

Capt. Stephen Del Bagno, 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida has been selected as Thunderbird No. 4, the team’s slot pilot. Like Graeff, Del Bagno will also fly in close formation with the other demonstration pilots, just aft of the No. 1 aircraft and between the two wingmen. Del Bagno will be the first F-35 pilot to serve on the team and will replace Maj. Nick Krajicek.

Capt. Matthew Kimmel, 79th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, 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. Whit Collins, the current opposing solo pilot, will transition to the lead solo position in 2018, replacing Maj. Alex Turner.

Maj. Eric Gorney, 613th Air Operations Center, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, will serve as Thunderbird No. 7, the team’s operations officer. His duties will include air space coordination, ground communication with the pilots in the air and safety observation. Gorney will replace Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh.

Capt. Lauren Venturini, 704th Munitions Support Squadron, Ghedi Air Base, Italy, has been selected as Thunderbird No. 10, the team’s executive officer. Her responsibilities will include leading an executive support staff responsible for Thunderbirds budget, training and force support actions for the commander. Venturini will replace Capt. Angelina Urbina.

Capt. Kassandra Mangosing, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, will serve as Thunderbird No. 11, the squadron’s maintenance officer. She will be responsible for the operational capability of 11 F-16 fighter jets and the management of more than 90 Airmen in various aircraft maintenance specialties. Mangosing will replace Maj. Warren Smith.

Maj. Raymond Geoffroy, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, has been chosen as Thunderbird No. 12, the squadron’s public affairs officer. He will assume the team’s extensive media relations, community relations and public relations programs. Geoffroy will replace Capt. Sara Harper.

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“The entire field of officer applicants this year was phenomenal,” Lt. Col. Jason Heard said. “The seven officers selected for the Team will no doubt bring the level of pride, precision and professionalism to uphold the tradition of excellence of our Team.”

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 2018, Thunderbird Nos. 1, 3, 6, 8, and 9 will be replaced.

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Thunderbird F-16 Flips During Landing in Dayton

Thunderbird F-16 Flips During Landing in Dayton

Reports are coming in that a United States Air Force F-16 has crashed while landing at the Dayton Air Show in Ohio. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base first responders have responded to the crash.

After touching down, a gust of wind supposedly flipped the F-16 on its tail. First responders have gotten a thumbs up from an occupant inside the jet. The ejection seat is still armed, and the area has been secured. Heavy rain was coming down during the time of the accident, and the emergency aircraft are unable to get airborne.  

UPDATE: One pilot has been pulled from the aircraft, but one is still stuck inside. The front ejection seat has been disarmed.

UPDATE: Both the pilot and Thunderbirds maintainer were safely pulled from the aircraft and taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries. The Thunderbirds have cancelled Saturday's performance at the Dayton Air Show and the team is still undecided on whether or not they'll perform Sunday. The Dayton Air Show will go on as scheduled. 

We'll keep you updated as the information comes in. Follow us on social media for the latest updates. 

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U.S. Navy Leap Frog Killed During Fleet Week Accident

U.S. Navy Leap Frog Killed During Fleet Week Accident

A United States Navy Leap Frog parachutist was rushed to the hospital after an apparent parachute malfunction Sunday afternoon. 

The United States Coast Guard rushed into action just after noon on Sunday when a member of the United States Navy Leap Frogs landed in the Hudson River after supposedly detaching from his parachute.

In the video below, the Leap Frog's parachute can be seen falling from the sky before coming to rest in a parking lot.  

The parachutist was rushed to Jersey Medical Center, where they were later pronounced dead. The victim's name is being withheld while next of kin are notified.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs, as well as friends, family, and the entire Navy Seals community.

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Memorial Announced for Captain Jeff Kuss

Memorial Announced for Captain Jeff Kuss

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Big news out of Smyrna, Tennessee Thursday.  Nearly a year after his death, the town of Smyrna announced that a permanent memorial will be built to honor Captain Jeff Kuss.

During a practice for last year's Great Tennessee Air Show, Captain Jeff Kuss crashed shortly after takeoff. In an effort to save civilians on the ground, Kuss chose not to eject and instead steered his aircraft away from a series of buildings and homes.  

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In honor of Captain Kuss' heroic efforts, the town of Smyrna plans on building a permanent memorial just south of the Smyrna Airport runway. Early renderings show the memorial to include a full size F-18 Hornet with the #6 on the tail.  

If you want to help contribute to the construction of the memorial, you can do so by visiting  http://www.captjeffkussusmcmemorial.com/. 

Blue Angels and Thunderbirds to team up Monday

Blue Angels and Thunderbirds to team up Monday

The United States Navy Blue Angels have announced that they will host the United States Air Force's Thunderbirds this week at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

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The Blue Angels wrapped up an air show at NAS New Orleans yesterday and arrived back in Pensacola last night. The Thunderbirds are coming off a weekend show at Tyndall AFB in Panama City, just east of Pensacola.

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The Thunderbirds are expected to land at NAS Pensacola around 11:00 AM central time Monday morning, and both teams are expected to take to the skies Monday.

This dual training exercise is designed to benefit both teams, each team learning how each other operate and how to better serve as a team. They worked together at the end of the 2016 season as well, with members of the Thunderbirds traveling with the Blue Angels, and members of the Blue Angels traveling with the Thunderbirds for a weekend.

Tuesday, both the Bue Angels and Thunderbirds will perform practice demonstrations above NAS Pensacola, and the public is invited to watch the demonstrations from the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

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Blue Angels to Fly Over Walt Disney World Thursday

Blue Angels to Fly Over Walt Disney World Thursday

The United States Navy Blue Angels will make an appearance over the most magical place on earth Thursday. Thousands of guests will look to sky as six blue and gold F/A-18 Hornets scream by.

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Thursday morning, the Blue Angels' Delta formation will fly over the Magic Kingdom and Main Street U.S.A. The formation is expected to make two passes, one being a flat pass and anther pass including their signature Delta Breakout.

The team last flew over Walt Disney World in 2015. The flyover will take place In conjunction with the team's transit to the 43rd annual Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Expo. The team will headline the show Friday through Sunday.

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2017 F-18 Hornet Tactical Demo Schedule Released

2017 F-18 Hornet Tactical Demo Schedule Released

The United States Navy has released the 2017 schedules for their tactical F/A-18 Hornet demonstration teams. Hornets from both VFA-106, based at NAS Oceana, Virginia, and VFA-122, based at NAS Lemoore, California, will participate in the demonstrations.


VFA-106:

DATES SHOW LOCATION
11-13 MAR TITUSVILLE, FL
18-19 MAR WACO, TX
22-23 APR LOUISVILLE, KY
29-30 APR LAKE CITY, FL
06-07 MAY FORT LAUDERDALE, FL
07-08 MAY LINCOLN, NE
20-21 MAY NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI
20-21 MAY OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
27-28 MAY MIAMI BEACH, FL
27-28 MAY WANTAGH, NY
25-26 JUN HUNTSVILLE, AL
01-02 JUL TRAVERSE CITY, MI
15-16 JUL JOHNSON CITY, NY
12-13 AUG AVOCA, PA
19-20 AUG DETROIT, MI
23 AUG ATLANTIC CITY, NJ
02-04 SEP CLEVELAND, OH
09-10 SEP SACRAMENTO, CA
16-17 SEP VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
23-24 SEP NEW LONDON, CANADA
14-15 OCT ATLANTA, GA
03-05 NOV STUART, FL

VFA-122:

17-18 MAR YUMA, AZ
24-26 MAR LANCASTER, CA
01-02 APR MELBOURNE, FL
08-09 APR COLUMBUS, GA
28-30 APR LAKE CHARLES, LA
13-14 MAY PITTSBURGH, PA
20-21 MAY REDLANDS, CA
27-28 MAY COLUMBIA, MO
10-11 JUN SCOTT AFB, IL
17-18 JUN GAYLORD, MI
24-25 JUN DAYTON, OH
03 JUL DUBUQUE, IA
08-09 JUL GARY, IN
22-23 JUL GREAT FALLS, MT
29-30 JUL FAIRCHILD AFB, WA
11-13 AUG ABBOTSFORD, CANADA
09-10 SEP WENDOVER, UT
16-17 SEP MIDLAND, TX
30-01 OCT GRAND JUNCTION, CO
07-08 OCT MINDEN, NV
21-22 OCT HOUSTON, TX


Will you get a chance to see the Hornet or the Rhino this year?

Atlanta Motor Speedway to Host Inaugural Atlanta Air Show

Atlanta Motor Speedway to Host Inaugural Atlanta Air Show

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Officials from Atlanta Motor Speedway and B. Lilley Productions announced today the track will host the inaugural Atlanta Air Show, October 14-15. It will be the first air show in history to be held at a motor speedway.

“This is a first in the air show industry and in the racing industry,” said Bryan Lilley, President of B. Lilley Productions, which also organizes air shows in New York, Ocean City, Md., Melbourne, Fla. and Fort Lauderdale. “We have finally found a ‘stadium’ large enough to host an air show and look forward to working with the incredible team of professionals at Atlanta Motor Speedway to bring this new event to fruition.”

The performer lineup for the inaugural event will include a variety of military and civilian flight team demonstrations including military jets, aerobatic planes, helicopters, parachute team jumps and more. The lineup will be announced in the coming months and will include four hours of flight demonstrations each day.

“The Atlanta Air Show is a fantastic new event for Atlanta Motor Speedway that will offer fans a unique variety of aerial entertainment not often seen at facilities like ours. We look forward to working with B. Lilley Productions to produce a quality show that attracts people from all across our region,” said Ed Clark, President of Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Sponsorship opportunities and corporate hospitality suites are available for the Atlanta Air Show. Flight Line Club VIP, Preferred Seating and Grandstand Seating tickets are on sale now at special intro pricing. Attendees can save 50 percent off the day-of-event price when they purchase by March 20 at midnight.

More information will be available online at AirShowAtlanta.com and fans can also follow the event Facebook page to stay updated on performer announcements and the latest info.

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2017 A-10 Warthog Heritage Flight Schedule Released

2017 A-10 Warthog Heritage Flight Schedule Released

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Air Combat Command has released the 2017 A-10 Warthog Heritage Flight schedule. The Warthog will only participate in Heritage Flights, and will not conduct any solo demonstrations.

March 25-26: Lancaster, CA

April 7-9: Lakeland, FL
April 22: Louisville, KY

May 6-7: Manassas, VA
May 20-22: Seymour-Johnson AFB, NC

June 17-18: Ocean City, MD
June 24-25: Detroit, MI

July 3: Dubuque, IA
July 24-30: Oshkosh, WI

August 18-20: Chicago, IL

September 9-10: Sacramento, CA
September 13-16: Reno, NV
September 23-24: Colorado Springs, CO
September 29-October 1: Salinas, CA

October 7-8: San Francisco, CA
October 14-15: Boise, ID
October 21-22: Houston, TX
October 28-29: Moody AFB, GA

November 4-5: NAS Jacksonville, FL
November 11-12: Nellis AFB, NV


Where you see the Warthog in its much awaited return to the air show circuit?

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2017 F-35 Heritage Flight Schedule Released

2017 F-35 Heritage Flight Schedule Released

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Air Combat Command has announced the 2017 F-35 Heritage Flight schedule. The F-35 will participate in Heritage Flights only and will not perform solo demonstrations.


April 1-2: Melbourne, FL
April 22: Louisville, KY

May 6-7: Chino, CA
May 20-22: Tinker AFB, OK

June 3-4: Duluth, MN
June 24-25: Dayton, OH

July 22-23: Idaho Falls, ID
July 24-30: Oshkosh, WI

August 11-13: Abbotsford, Canada

September 9-10: New Windsor, NY
September 23-24: London, ON
September 30-October 1: Huntington Beach, CA

October 13-15: Punta Gorda, FL

November 4-5: JBSA Lackland, TX


Will you get to see the Lightning this year? 

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F-22 Raptor Demo Team Releases 2017 Schedule

F-22 Raptor Demo Team Releases 2017 Schedule

Air Combat Command has released the 2017 schedule for the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team:


March 24-26: Brunswick, GA

April 22-23: Tyndall AFB, FL

May 6-7: McEntire JNGB, SC
May 13-14: Pittsburgh, PA
May 20-21: Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
May 27-28: Miami, FL

June 17-18: Ocean City, MD
June 24-25: Bagotville, QC

July 1-4: Battle Creek, MI
July 1: Goshen, IN
July 14-16: RAF Fairford, UK
July 29-30: Kennewick, WA

August 4-5: Seattle, WA
August 12-13: Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, PA
August 18-20: Chicago, IL

September 2-4: Toronto, ON
September 13-14: Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C.
September 16-17: Joint Base Andrews, MD
September 16: Wright Patterson AFB, OH
September 22-24: Hillsboro, OR
September 29-October 1: Salinas, CA

October 17-22: Seoul, Korea

November 4-5: NAS Jacksonville, FL
November 11-12: Nellis AFB, NV


Where will you see the mighty Raptor this year?

F-16 Viper Demo Team Releases 2017 Schedule

F-16 Viper Demo Team Releases 2017 Schedule

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The Air Combat Command F-16 Viper Demo Team has officially released their 2017 show schedule:


April 1-2: NAS Corpus Christi, TX
April 7-9: Lakeland, FL
April 22-23: NAS JRB New Orleans, LA
April 29-30: MCAS Beaufort, SC

May 6-7: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
May 13-14: Millington, TN
May 20-21: North Kingstown, RI

June 10-11: Whiteman AFB, MO
June 17-18: Gaylord, MI
June 24-25: Latrobe, PA

July 10-16: Rio Negro, Colombia

August 11-13: Abbottsford, Canada
August 26-27: Brunswick, ME

September 9-10: New Windsor, NY
September 15-17: NAS Oceana, VA
September 23-24: Owensboro, KY
September 30-October 1: Huntington Beach, CA

October 7-8: San Francisco, CA
October 14-15: Hampton, GA
October 28-29: Fort Worth, TX

November 3-5: Stuart, FL


Where will you see the team in 2017?

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Largest Assembly of P-51 Mustangs to Fly in Over a Decade at SUN 'n FUN

Largest Assembly of P-51 Mustangs to Fly in Over a Decade at SUN 'n FUN

 (February 16, 2017 Lakeland, FL) Located at the Kissimmee-Gateway airport just outside Orlando, FL, Stallion 51 has long been noted as the nation’s premiere provider of transition training in the famous WWII-era fighter, the North American P-51 Mustang. A unique facility, Stallion 51’s expert staff teach owners and pilots of these historic war machines to operate them safely and efficiently in the modern age. Since Stallion 51 came into being they have attended the annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland, bringing their stable of Mustangs to the Warbird Flight line with Mr. Mustang himself, Lee Lauderback flying his signature Solo Mustang Demo routine in the air show. This year, Stallion 51 is celebrating their 30th Anniversary, and they have invited their many Mustang friends to SUN ‘n FUN to help celebrate and commemorate the occasion.

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On Wednesday, April 5, 2017th Stallion 51’s invited guests will arrive impressive formation for what is promising to be the largest assembly of P-51 Mustangs in over a decade.

 “It’s been over a decade since the world has seen this many P-51 Mustangs in one place at one time,” said Greg Gibson, Air Operations Director for SUN ‘n FUN. “We have the honor of not only hosting them, but helping our friends at Stallion 51 celebrate their 30th anniversary.”

Not since the famous Gathering of Mustangs and Legends in 2007 in Dayton, Ohio has there been such a showing of the famous Warbird, and with over 7 acres of pristine apron space at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport appropriately named “The Warbird Ramp”, the week-long SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In is the perfect venue for bringing this elite group together. Over 30 are expected, and the excitement over the arrival is building.

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Gibson’s enthusiasm for the occasion is readily evident. “It’s a historic event, celebrating one of the most significant aircraft in history. To see them all together is overwhelming, but we have a real treat on Thursday for our SUN ‘n FUN guests: all of them will fly in the airshow at once!”

The flight demonstration will take place on Thursday, April 6th during the daily airshow, which begins around 2PM. This will coincide with the first appearance of the US Navy Blue Angels, scheduled to fly later that same day.

In 1987, Stallion 51 Corp. established itself as a unique aviation business that specializes in rare expensive vintage aircraft built on the dream and passion of the Lauderback brothers. Lee, Peter, Richard and John are the cornerstone of the Mustang world; restoring, operating and marketing the rarest of the breed. Thousands of people have shared the cockpit with founder and president, Lee Lauderback and his crew through the years, learning about the magic of the Merlin and the mystique behind the Mustang. At SUN ‘n FUN 2017, visitors will get to see the results of their passion as the thunder of Mustangs roar overhead in a spectacular display not to be missed.

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The Thunderbirds will not be alone Sunday in Houston

The Thunderbirds will not be alone Sunday in Houston

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds won't be the only F-16's in the Houston area on Super Bowl Sunday.

A group of F-16's from the 138th Fighter Wing out of Tulsa, Oklahoma will stand at the ready Sunday along with UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, Cessna C-550 Citation jets and two Airbus AS350 helicopters.

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Together, they will support the North American Aerospace Defense Command along with customs and border patrol to protect the 30-mile restricted airspace surrounding NRG Stadium, host of Super Bowl LI. In effect starting at 4:00 Sunday, the unrestricted airspace is off limits to all air traffic except law enforcement aircraft, air ambulances, military aircraft, and select airliners. 

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When an unrestricted aircraft goes within the 30-mile border set by the FAA, they will be contacted by air traffic control before being intercepted by a Black Hawk helicopter, or worse, an F-16 Fighting Falcon. KC-135 Stratotankers will also be airborne Sunday night in order to keep the F-16's airborne the entire night. The waiver runs up to midnight on Sunday.

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Thunderbirds Ready for Big Game

Thunderbirds Ready for Big Game

Friday afternoon, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds touched down at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas for Super Bowl LI.

Saturday, the team began making final preparations ahead of Sunday's big game, which included media flights and a practice flyover.

The Thunderbirds perform a practice flyover above NRG Stadium Saturday. Photo: Phil Lipof

The Thunderbirds perform a practice flyover above NRG Stadium Saturday.

Photo: Phil Lipof

The rehearsal flyover is crucial to the team's success on Sunday, and successfully planning a specific TOT, or time over target, requires extensive planning and coordination. 

Once the Thunderbirds' signature Delta formation takes off Sunday afternoon from Ellington Field and begins flying toward the stadium, they can only speed up or slow down their arrival by 10 seconds.

Thunderbird 8, the team's advance pilot and narrator, will be inside of NRG Stadium Sunday to coordinate the flyover. He says that for each stanza of the national anthem, the team has a time and distance for where the six F-16's should be. 

On Saturday, the Delta took to the skies and practiced flying over NRG Stadium. Thunderbird 8 had intentions of multiple practice flyovers preparing for all possible circumstances, but low clouds kept the team from performing more than one flyover.

The Thunderbirds perform a practice flyover above NRG Stadium Saturday. Photo: Phil Lipof

The Thunderbirds perform a practice flyover above NRG Stadium Saturday.

Photo: Phil Lipof

Sunday afternoon, the Thunderbirds will takeoff 30 minutes before the national anthem and will make large, left-hand turns 25 to 35 miles south of the stadium. From there, it will take the team less than five minutes to get to the 50-yard line. 

Following the flyover, the pilots will touch down at Ellington Field and make their way to the stadium, where they will be recognized during the game.

The Thunderbirds take off Saturday for a practice flyover above NRG Stadium. Photo: Roger Daltry

The Thunderbirds take off Saturday for a practice flyover above NRG Stadium.

Photo: Roger Daltry

The Thunderbirds take off Saturday for a practice flyover above NRG Stadium. Photo: Roger Daltry

The Thunderbirds take off Saturday for a practice flyover above NRG Stadium.

Photo: Roger Daltry

Thunderbirds Head to Houston for Super Bowl LI

Thunderbirds Head to Houston for Super Bowl LI

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds are set to leave Nellis AFB Friday as they head to Houston, Texas for Super Bowl LI. The team is scheduled to open up Sunday night's big game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots with a flyover in their signature Delta formation. Based out of Ellington Field for the weekend, the Thunderbirds will speak with media and conduct various media flights Friday and Saturday before taking to the skies on Sunday afternoon. 

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However, weather does threaten the team's scheduled flyover and may potentially prevent NRG Stadium's retractable roof from being open for the flyover. As of now, there's a 40% chance of rain Sunday in Houston. NFL officials will make a decision Saturday as to whether or not the roof will be open Sunday night so that the Thunderbirds can set the tone for the noise level expected in the stadium come kickoff.

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We will be LIVE from Super Bowl LI and will broadcast the flyover on Periscope as long as the weather allows. Stay tuned on our website and social media for the lastest Super Bowl updates!

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Blue Angels Head West

Blue Angels Head West

The New Year has come and the holidays are gone, which springs a monumental time for both incoming and returning Blue Angels pilots.  

Each January, the United States Navy Blue Angels pack their bags and head West to the Southern California desert known as the Imperial Valley. Naval Air Facility El Centro, California becomes the team's home away from home for nearly a three-month span.  

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Wednesday morning, the 2017 team loads up their stuff and heads to El Centro to begin their annual Winter Training ahead of the 2017 season opener March 11. A crucial part to the cross-country trip every year is the team's famed C-130 Hercules, known as Fat Albert.

Fat Albert is responsible for carrying all of the team's equipment and personnel necessary to complete each and every flight demonstration. In addition, Fat Albert is the team's moving toolbox, carrying enough spare parts to keep each F-18 Hornet airworthy throughout a given show season.

Currently, Fat Albert remains in Depot level maintenance that began towards the end of last season. A Marine Corps Reserve C-130, nicknamed Ernie, will fill in and carry the team and all necessary equipment to the desert.

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Once the team arrives in El Centro, they'll begin the process of completing the necessary 120 training flights prior to their season opener. The team will fly two times a day, six days a week for ten weeks. During this time, the incoming pilots will work with returning pilots to develop the skill and precision required to fly in tight formation. The Imperial Valley provides optimal flying conditions for the team day in and day out that can't be found anywhere else.

As the team begins Winter Training and progresses towards their season opener in March, stay tuned to our website and social media as well as that of the team for the latest updates.