The Past, Present, and the Future. A look at the Heritage and Legacy Flights of AirVenture 2019

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We continue our look at the year of the fighter at AirVenture 2019 with a closer look at the United States Air Force Heritage Flight and the United States Navy Legacy Flight. AirVenture 2019 was fortunate enough to showcase the past present and future of United States Air Force and United States Naval Aviation at the same time. Previous Heritage and Legacy Flight aircraft have included the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom, Boeing F-15C and E model Eagle and the Boeing FA-18C Hornet. Both the Heritage Flight and Legacy Flight are among the most popular acts at airshows today. Here are some photos from previous years Heritage and Legacy at AirVenture Oshkosh.

Representing the United States Air Force of today was the Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II flown by Major Cody “ShiV” Wilton. The Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor flown by Major Paul “Loco” Lopez. The Lockheed Martin F -35A Lightning II flown by Captain Andrew “Dojo” Olson. The only United States Air Force aircraft missing was the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon. It is relatively rare to have three of the four current single ship demo aircraft at the same airshow. The F-22’s and A-10’s remained at Oshkosh for the duration of the show, while the F-35’s relocated to Milwaukee on Thursday to support the Milwaukee Airshow held the same weekend as AirVenture. The F-22’s and A-10’s did support the Milwaukee Airshow from Oshkosh. We will have future article on the Milwaukee Airshow coming up.

United States Air Force Heritage Flights were born in 1997 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United States Air Force as a separate service. The Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation was formed in 2010 to the keep the program going. Heritage flights incorporate current United States Air Force aircraft as well as aircraft from World War II, The Korean War, and the Vietnam War flown by a group of select and highly trained civilian aviators. The 2019 civilian team of pilots are no strangers to the warbird community with the likes of Greg Anders, Andrew McKenna and Ben Freidkin in the North American P-51 Mustang. Kevin Eldridge in the North American F-86 Sabre and Steve Hinton flying just about every type of warbird certified to fly in the Heritage Flight program including the Lockheed P-38 Lightning and the North American P-51 Mustang.

The typical air show performance will see the participating aircraft (two to four aircraft) departing with the Air Combat Command single ship demonstration first. Once the solo demonstration wraps up the Heritage Flight aircraft will form up. Once the aircraft are in formation the Heritage Flight profile will consist of a series of 5 or more different passes. The first pass is an arching pass, next is a bottom up arcing pass, next is the in front over the crowd pass, followed by a flat pass and finally an over the crowd pass with aileron rolls as the aircraft break. The participating aircraft will then proceed to make several different types of passes before recovering. This year’s warbirds at AirVenture 2019 included the North American P-51 Mustang and the Douglas A-1 Skyraider. There were different combinations of aircraft flown on each day.

Just like its United States Air Force counterparts the United States Navy Legacy Flight which was founded in the year 2000, showcases frontline United States Navy fighters and trainers that fly alongside civilian warbirds, and in close formation flight. These civilian warbirds also represent World War II, The Korean War and the Vietnam War. United States Navy legacy flights were very popular at air shows up until budget cuts forced their cancellation in 2013. United States Navy Legacy Flights have been returning to the skies over airshows since 2018 and have been greatly expanded during the 2019 air show season. Legacy Flights have included single ship Tacdemo flights which feature a solo demonstration by a Boeing FA-18E or F model Super Hornet. Unfortunately, due to training requirements very few single demonstrations were flown this airshow season.

This years Legacy Flight aircraft including the Boeing FA-18E or F model Super Hornet, the Boeing EA-18G Growler, the Boeing T-45 Goshawk, and the Raytheon Aircraft T-6 Texan II. Several different vintage warbirds fly in formation with today’s naval fighters and trainers just like their Heritage Flight counterparts. Some of the 2019 civilian warbirds and pilots included Jim Tobul in Korean War Hero a Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair, Paul Wood in the McDonnell Douglas A-4B Skyhawk and Ray Dieckman in the Grumman F-8F Bearcat. These pilots are also no strangers to the Warbird Community.

The United States Navy legacy flight begins with the departure of the participating aircraft (two to four aircraft) and if a Tacdemo was planned the Hornet will fly a solo demonstration first. Once the aircraft are formed up and in formation the typical Legacy Flight profile includes 3 passes. The first pass is a Legacy pass (banana pass), a head on Legacy pass, and the final pass will be a flight break-up from behind the crowd. Each aircraft will perform a pitchout maneuver with the civilian warbird recovering while the current US Navy aircraft will make a few more passes before executing a carrier break to landing if applicable. AirVenture 2019 saw different combinations of aircraft including the Grumman F-8F Bearcat and Raytheon Aircraft T-6 Texan II from TAW-5 (Training Air Wing) based at NAS (Naval Air Station) Whiting Field located near Milton Florida. Jim Tobul flying Korean War Hero a 1945 vintage and expertly restored Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair and a Boeing EA-18G Growler from VAQ-129 (Electronic Attack Squadron) otherwise known as the “Vikings” and based at NAS (Naval Air Station) Whidbey Island Washington.

AirVenture 2019 was very fortunate to have both United States Air Force Heritage and United States Navy Legacy Flights which featured several very different and unique formations of vintage warbirds as well as our current United States Air Force and United States Navy aircraft. This year, like previous years showcased the past, the present and the future of our US military aircraft. We will continue our look at AirVenture 2019 in the next several articles to come. Until next time, “Blue Skies to All!”
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