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Seventy Years Strong: The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels

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On April 24, 1946, shortly after the Second World War ended, Admiral Chester Nimitz, then Chief of Naval Operations, directed that a “flight demonstration team be organized within the Naval Advanced Training Command to represent the Navy at air shows and similar events”. Seven decades later, the Blue Angels team has expanded, reorganized, been to war and back, and has become one of the most visible and anticipated group of performers in the air show industry. Here’s a look at some of the team’s highlights over the years, during the eras of each type of aircraft they flew. Read more »

Tampa Bay AirFest 2016

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The year 2016 marks three quarters of a century after the United States began its buildup of armed forces, when its' leaders saw that the country would most likely become involved in the conflict in Europe, which ultimately grew into one of the main focal points of the Second World War. A massive amount of aviation infrastructure was funded and built in a short period of time in 1941, including many air bases that survive today. In different names and forms, military airdromes like McGuire AFB NJ, Corpus Christi NAS TX, Shaw AFB SC, Dover AFB DE, Cherry Point MCAS NC, Vandenburg AFB CA, and Tyndall AFB FL were all constructed and/or declared operational in 1941. MacDill AFB, in South Tampa, Florida, is another one of these bases, and it recently held its’ 75th AirFest air show. This was one of the first of many celebrations across the country that will honor 75 years of aviation history at an air field.

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Warbirds in the air brought diverse handling characteristics, and plenty of noise. Scott Yoak presented the P-51 "Quicksilver", Jim Tobul flew his F4U Corsair and then joined Quicksilver in the "Class of 45" duet, Larry Labriola performed in his L-39 jet, the Geico Skytypers thundered about in their roaring 6-ship SNJ formation, Randy Ball demonstrated his afterburning MiG-17, and Jerry "Jive" Kerby flew aerobatics in his T-28 Trojan. Civilians included a quartet of aerobatic performers, Michael Goulian in his Extra 330C, Rob Holland in his MXS, Kirby Chambliss in his Edge 540, and "Jive" Kerby in his RV-8 "Wild Blue". Read more »

Tyabb Airshow, 2016

MEL_6730-2 Americans must sometimes find it intriguing when they discover how many interesting US-built warbirds find their way "downunder". Tyabb Airshow is held biannually at Mornington Peninsula Airport, near Melbourne. Part air-show, part fly-in, this event attracts some of the finest warbirds seen around the country during the airshow season. Supported by warbirds owners and aviation collections from as far afield as New South Wales (NSW), there is always a selection of favourites and "Newbs" to fascinate and inspire awe in even the most seasoned aero-spotter. 2016 for instance, featured for the first time outside of New South Wales, two Supermarine Spitfires... Temora Aviation Museum's (TAM) Mk.VIII and XVI examples. And those American aircraft. But more on those shortly... MEL_6309-3 Read more »

The 2016 Heritage Flight Conference

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Creating a Heritage: In 1997, during the 50th anniversary of the USAF celebrations, a most unique formation took to the skies. That formation included the latest aircraft in the USAF arsenal wing tip to wing tip with vintage warbirds. The aircraft flew two passes left to right in front of the crowd, to the music of "We Remember" by Dwayne O'Brian. Then the flight concluded with a final pass from behind the crowd and a snap break, aileron roll out. Hardly a dry eye was on the ramp, as the aircraft landed. The enthusiasm of the crowds on hand to witness that first flight was amazing, and the top USAF brass took note. The program continued over the years and grew in popularity. Since those early days, the USAF Heritage Flight has become a staple of air shows around the world.

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