Military air shows are exciting events. “That’s the sound of freedom,” people say when a jet passes over. Just the sound of a jet can bring many emotions. For those that have served our country and for their spouses and families, it brings a sense of pride. For young children it is a world of amazement.
Both the Navy and Air Force have special squadrons that are the highlights of military air shows. Since 1946, the Navy’s Blue Angels have held performances for more than 484 million fans. It is now estimated 11 million spectators will attend the Blue Angels air shows annually.
The Blue Angels
Blue Angels are made up of only 16 officers. There are 3 tactical jet pilots, 2 support officers and 1 Marine Corps pilot position open each year to replace departing members. Each officer generally stays with the Blue Angels for 2 years.
While the Blue Angels began with 4 aircrafts, they have since expanded to 10. The original 4 aircrafts made up their famous diamond formation. The air shows now include solo performances to show how capable these jets are. The Blue Angels currently fly the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules. It’s amazing to watch these aircrafts in action. They fly merely 18 inches apart during their famous diamond 360 maneuver.
This year the Blue Angels celebrate their 70th season. Unfortunately, it came to a quick halt.
On June 2, America lost a great hero, Capt. Jeff Kuss of the Marine Corps. He was the number six pilot, the Opposing Solo, of the Blue Angels. His F/A-18 Hornet crashed while training in Tennessee. We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Captain Kuss.
The Blue Angels canceled their June appearances. Navy officials announced on June 26 that the elite flight demonstration squadron will resume its schedule on July 2 at the National Cherry Festival Air Show in Traverse City, Michigan.
You can review the 2016 air show schedule to determine the closest one to you.
Air Force Thunderbirds
Another wonderful opportunity to view air shows comes from the Air Force Thunderbirds, officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron.
They started the season with a flyover at the Daytona 500 and were making their way across America delighting people with their precision flying demonstrations when an unfortunate accident occurred. They also lost a jet on June 2.
One of the Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcons completed a flyover for the commencement at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, before crashing in a field. The pilot was able to eject without suffering any serious injuries.
Following this incident, the squadron had a short stand down. The Thunderbirds resumed their flight demonstration schedule in mid-June.
The Air Force has been amazing crowds since 1953. They have performed across America as well as around the world. Millions of people have had the opportunity to witness their air shows.
Each military air show is free and open to the public. You can check the Thunderbirds 2016 air shows schedule to see if there’s one coming up near you.
If you plan on attending an air show this summer, take a small backpack with items such as sunblock, bug spray, rain gear, bottled water, snacks, hats, binoculars, a camera and earplugs. You’ll also want a blanket or chairs to sit on.
To avoid as much traffic as you can, consider going early and leaving late. Make sure to keep an eye on the kids so they don’t touch the static displays.
Be ready to ask questions. The men and women that are part of these proud traditions are happy to answer them.