Air shows are a driving force behind the public’s interest in aviation. I’ve chosen a handful of long-running events to preview in 2017, and offer some of the venues’ history too. The Valiant Air Command’s Fortieth TICO Airshow is just around the corner!
The Space Coast Regional Airport (TICO comes from the Titusville – Cocoa Airport Authority name) sits across the Indian River from Cape Canaveral, Florida’s historic rocket launching and Space Shuttle landing facility. A few years before the Shuttles began to fly, the Valiant Air Command, a warbird museum that operated several flying and static aircraft, began a series of annual air shows. Drawing from the awesome Florida, Georgia and other nearby warbird communities, their spring air shows occurred a bit before the big Sun N Fun convention. The Florida warmth attracted many spectators, pilots and planes to bask in the sunshine and partake in the flying after a long, cold winter to the north – along the Atlantic seaboard. In many circles, this was the first air show of the calendar year.
As a major fund raiser for the museum, the show featured a wide variety of warbirds, from the home-based TICO Belle C-47, to visiting Mustangs, Corsairs, Mitchells, Invaders, Texans, Trojans… and the list went on and on. Spectators could roam the parking ramp among the dozens of warbirds for a few hours in the morning, then moved into the adjacent field as most, if not all of the warbirds would crank up and fly for a few hours during the afternoon in an intricately choreographed aerial event. On Saturday evening, the famous warbird dinner and auction, which included items ranging from framed, signed aviation artwork to actual aircraft, ran late into the night.
As the years flew by, active military involvement, in the form of static display aircraft and flight demonstrations, were added. Civilian performers joined the program too. Occasionally, the Hurricane Hunters (from both NOAA the Air Force) brought their cautionary tales about the storms, and their hurricane hunter aircraft, to the shows. Over the years, traditions ended and new ones took their place, but the shows continued to go on.
2017 marks the VAC’s fortieth performance, and this year’s show features the Air Force’s Thunderbirds, the AeroShell Demo Team, two parachute demonstrations, the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet Demo team, Air Force Search and Rescue aircraft, many more warbird and civilian aerobatic displays, and a Friday night flying and fireworks show too. It’ll occur over the March 10th through 12th weekend.
For a look at last year’s 2016 show, check out Dietmar Schreiber’s article at: http://classicwarbirds.net/2016-tico-warbird-air-show
The photos below are from the early to mid-1990s, and not a preview of this year’s show… but a look back at some of the action of years past.