Tag Archives: USAF Thunderbirds

2022 Airshow London

The annual Airshow London was held September 9th through 11th at the London International Airport. The event was Canada’s largest airshow for 2022 and was named the best Airshow in North America for 2022.

The show continued their tradition of a Friday evening twilight show, featured several current jet aircraft demonstrations and was headlined by the return of the USAF Thunderbirds.

RCAF CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team

Capt. Jesse “Modem” Haggart-Smith piloted the CF-18 Hornet. The Hornet demo is based at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, Quebec. The CF-18 has been Canada’s primary fighter aircraft since 1983.

USANG F-16C Fighting Falcons (Viper)

F-16 Vipers from 180th Fighter Wing, 112th Fighter Squadron “Stingers” from the Ohio Air National Guard. The unit is based at the Toledo Express Airport, and are the “alert” squadron for the midwest region of the United States.

P-51 Mustang “Double Trouble Two”

Mackenzie Cline brought P-51D Mustang “Double Trouble Two” (44-73871/N551TF) for a solo aerobatic display. Merlin music is always appreciated!

USAF MC-130J Commando II Hercules

Airshow London lucked out with a rare flight demo of the USAF’s MC-130J, callsign “Aleka17”. The MC-130J is the aircraft used to support special operations forces. Duties include nighttime infiltration, exfiltration, resupply, airdrops and air-to-air refueling.

RCAF CT-155 Hawk

The Hawk is the RCAF’s advanced jet trainer. Students learn fast jet operations and after their training period will be placed into F/A-18 Hornets.

USAF E-3 Sentry

Saturday’s flyin performer was an E-3 Sentry callsign “Norse73”, serial 81004. The aircraft is an airborne warning and control system (AWACS), which provides situational awareness and airborne control of assets. The aircraft is a modified Boeing 707, with a 30-foot in diameter rotating radar dome on the top.

USAF B-2 Spirit

Sunday’s fly-in performer was the USAF’s B-2 Spirit “Spirit of America”. The B-2 is the US Air Forces stealth bomber aircraft. While the current design is modern, the flying wing concept dates back to the late 1940s.

USMC MV-22 Osprey

The MV-22 is the world’s first operational tilt-rotor aircraft. Designed for the flexibility of a helicopter with the ability to fly like a conventional aircraft for cruising and range.

The demo was performed by VMMT-204 “Raptors”. The unit is the V-22 pilot training squadron. The squadron trains pilots for the USMC, USAF and Japan. The unit is based at MCAS New River, located in North Carolina.

RCAF CC-130J Hercules

Canada’s heavy lift capabilities were represented by CC-130J, flying with call sign “Burma04”. The Hercules performs multiple duties, including tactical airlift and troop transportation. The Hercules is capable of landing on short airfields, including those that are unpaved.

USAF F-22 Raptor Demo

Maj. Joshua “Cabo” Gunderson piloted the USAF F-22 Raptor demo. The F-22 demo team is based at Joint Base Langley-Eustice in Hampton, Virginia.

Louisiana ANG F-15C Eagles

Two F-15C Eagles from the 159th Fighter Wing, 122nd Fighter Squadron “Bayou Militia” of the Louisiana Air National Guard participated in the show.

“The Changing of the Guard”

The Raptor Demo Team formed up with the Louisiana ANG F-15s for a formation pass symbolizing the “changing of the guard.” With the service of the F-15C beginning to sunset, the formation was a symbolic transfer of air superiority duties from the F-15 to the F-22.

RCAF CC-150 Polaris #15001

“Can Force One” the Prime Minister’s transport, a CC-150 Polaris, “Husky1” arrived on Friday, and made a surprised the crowd by participating in the flying display each day.

Yankee Air Museum B-17 Flying Fortress and C-47 Skytrain

Warbird representation was primarily two of the aircraft from the Yankee Air Museum, the C-47 Skytrain “Hairless Joe”, B-17G Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady”.

USAF Thunderbirds

The USAF Thunderbird flight demonstration team returned to London as the headliners of the show. The RCAF Snowbirds were scheduled to perform, but had to cancel due to an accident earlier in the year. The Thunderbirds were welcomed back and were popular with the crowd since appearances in Canada are few and far between.

Arrivals and Friday Twilight Show

Friday’s twilight show is a highlight each year. This year, the Thunderbirds performed with a photo chase plane, which was very different to see. The highlight had to be the arrival of the F-15s from Oregon and Louisiana. Several other arrivals

CP-140 Aurora arrives

CF-18 Hornet demo practice

F-22 Raptor Demo

Oregon ANG F-15 Eagles

F-15s from Oregon 173rd FW, 114th Fighter Squadron based at Kingsley Field arrived and beat up the field with a number of simulated approaches and burner pull outs. This was the highlight of the weekend in my opinion, with the other F-15s from Louisiana ANG not far behind. There were many people excited to see the Eagles flying and participating in the show.

USAF Thunderbirds

Louisiana ANG F-15 Eagles Arrive

CF-18 Hornet Demo

Around the Field

The static display was very large and had a wide variety of aircraft from Canada and the United States.

Springfield Thunderbirds Military Appreciation Night Jersey 2022

Two of my favorite things collided last year when my local minor league hockey team announced their Military Appreciation Night sweater. I had been thinking all along that it would be amazing if they had a military themed logo instead of their existing one. My dream came true on February 26, 2022 when the team played the Charlotte Checkers.

The jersey was designed for the Springfield Thunderbirds Military Appreciation Night by Matt McElroy. The Thunderbirds are in the American Hockey League (AHL) and are the farm team of the St. Louis Blues. The sweater combines the team’s name along with features of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds jet demonstration team. The jersey is an almost perfect lift of the jet’s topside paint scheme placed onto the hockey sweater. This combination is perfect since the team’s name was actually inspired by the USAF jet team.

The main logo of the sweater is a copy of the USAF Thunderbirds flight helmet and oxygen mask, with Springfield written above it and a lightning bolt. This was not by mistake. It is actually a tribute to the original Springfield Indians logo. Springfield has a long history of minor league hockey, and was one of original founding member teams of the league. The original Springfield team was known as the Indians.

Overall, the jersey is white, which is identical to the USAF Thunderbird jets. The sleeves contain the player’s number circled in stars, just like the demo team jets. The elbow area proudly flies the rondel used by all United States military aircraft to identify their nationality. The bottom has the red scallop with stars just like the tail of the jets. The team also used navy blue pants, which matches the color of the underside of the Thunderbirds’ jets. Again, very specific attention to detail.

Pre-Game Hype!

When the jersey was unveiled, several members of the team visited the 104th Fighter Wing, 131st Fighter Squadron “The Barnstormers” at Barnes Air National Guard Base, in Westover, Massachusetts. Several of the jerseys were taken aloft for a flight in the unit’s F-15 Eagles. (Photos of the players and the F-15 pilots were obtained via the team’s website and/or social media pages.)

Game Day and Beyond!

As this game approached I was hoping for a bunch of merchandise to be introduced at the team store. As soon as I saw the official replica jersey for sale, I bought one. It was customizable, so I picked the number and used my last name. I specifically asked for the number 5, and that it be purposely be sewn on upside down, which was my tribute to the USAF Thunderbirds. To my surprise, when the team came out onto the ice on the night of the game, Tyler Tucker also had his number 5 upside down! The team or Matt McElroy even used that little detail when they designed the sweater, and I was just elated. My jersey did not arrive until mid-April, but I was thrilled to see it in person.

The team also used the jerseys for a good cause. The team has several alternate jerseys each year. 2022 included a throwback night to when the were the “Falcons”, a special “Pink the Rink” tribute to cancer survivors, a Simpsons themed jersey and the Military Appreciation Night. After each of these special jersey games, the team auctions them off with the proceeds going to the various charities the Springfield Thunderbirds support. The Military Appreciation Night jersey auction raised $28,575!

(Game photos above are from the team’s website and/or social media.)

Game Highlights!

My Military Appreciation Night Merchandise

I took full advantage of all of the great merchandise the team put out with the jet team themed merchandise.

We really enjoyed the game, and the win sealed the evening as one I will not forget for a long time!

Even Boomer rocked the awesome jersey!!

2021 Thunder Over New Hampshire

Pease ANGB located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire hosted the 2021 Thunder Over New Hampshire show on September 11-12. This was the base’s first show in ten years and included a historic first flight demo of the KC-46A Pegasus tanker which are stationed at the base.

Show Opener: USSOCOM Para-Commandos, Mike Wiskus and RI ANG C-130

The anthem performance opened the show with the USSOCOM Para-Commandos jumping from a Rhode Island ANG C-130 and Mike Wiskus providing the traditional airshow opening.

F-35A Lightning II – Vermont ANG

“The Green Mountain Boys” of the Vermont Air National Guard’s 134th Fighter Squadron provided the “sound of freedom” as the anthem concluded. They are the first Air National Guard unit to fly the F-35A and operate out of the Burlington ANGB.

Greg “Wired” Colyer – T-33 Shooting Star

Greg Colyer of Ace Maker Airshows brought his beautiful T-33 Shooting Star “Ace Maker” (N933GC). The T-33 is the trainer variant of the F-80 Shooting Star, and went on to serve for many years as the advanced trainer for the United States and many other allied nations.

Rob Holland

Nashua, New Hampshire native Rob Holland performed in his MXS-RH. Rob is the current US National Aerobatic Champion (10 consecutive years). Learn more about Rob Holland and his amazing custom MRX aircraft at Ultimate Airshows.

USAF F-22 Raptor

Major Joshua “Cabo” Gunderson piloted the F-22 Raptor. The F-22 Raptor demo is part of the 1st Fighter Wing, operating from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

Scott Yoak P-51 Mustang “Quick Silver” aerobatics

Scott Yoak performed an aerobatic display in his P-51 Mustang known as “Quick Silver” (NL51HY). Quick Silver was restored over several years by his father, Bill Yoak, whom brought the aircraft to better than factory new when the restoration was complete. More information about the aircraft and its story can be found at the Quick Silver Website.

Mike Wiskus Aerobatics

Mike Wiskus performed a full display in his Pitts S-1-11B known as the “Super Stinker”. Mike is set to retire from airshows after the 2021 season.

New Hampshire ANG KC-46 Pegasus Demonstration

The 157th Air Refueling Wing located at Pease ANGB in Portsmouth, New Hampshire flew the first public demonstration of the USAF’s newest aerial refueling tanker, the KC-46A Pegasus. The unit currently operates 12 of the aircraft and are the only Air National Guard Unit assigned the aircraft.

USAF Thunderbirds

The USAF Thunderbirds were the feature act of the afternoon. The display was shortened due to an issue with the 5 jet. Maj. Curran landed and immediately went to a ready two-seater, and rejoined the display for the delta maneuvers.

Around the Airfield

2019 National Cherry Festival Air Show

The 2019 National Cherry Festival Air Show was held over the scenic Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City, Michigan on June 28-29. This year, the show featured the USAF Thunderbirds, F-22 Raptor Demo, USAF Heritage Flight, USMC AV-8 Harrier II Demo and the USCG Search And Rescue (SAR) Demo featuring two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters from Air Station Traverse City.

USAF Thunderbirds

The USAF Thunderbirds were the featured performer of the National Cherry Festival Air Show. This was the first time I have seen the Thunderbirds perform here and the first time over the water. Some of the maneuvers were still as close as a traditional show, while others seemed to be farther. Regardless, it was a beautiful performance and well executed. The Coast Guard Cutter Neah Bay served as the show center line.

USMC AV-8B Harrier II Demo

The AV-8B demo is becoming a rare occurrence with the aircraft type nearing retirement. Although the jet is being replaced in the fleet by the F-35B, the Harrier is still an impressive machine and will be around for a few more years. The Harrier is known for being a loud aircraft while hovering, and over the water was no exception. The high pitch shrill of the air is mind numbing. The aircraft is not known for its overall speed, but it is truly amazing to see the jet go from a standstill hover to just shy of the speed of sound in a matter of less than a minute. It is also amazing to see it slow down to a hover. This ability to take off and land vertically allows it to be deployed by the USMC near the front lines or off of assault carriers to be available for air support in a matter of minutes. This ability to be close to the action is why the Marines insisted on a VTOL variant of the F-35 when replacement of the Harrier was discussed. I am hoping that this was not my last view of this legendary aircraft.

USAF F-22 Raptor Demo

The USAF sent their premier air superiority fighter, the F-22 to perform for the large Cherry Festival audience. The F-22 is now over ten years old, but still amazes me every time it is flying. The aircraft is capable of things that a traditional fighter jet are unable to do. Saturday’s performance was scrubbed after a few maneuvers due to a technical glitch with the aircraft. For the safety of the crew and the thousands of onlookers, it was decided to scratch the rest of the demo, including the Heritage Flight. What we did get to see was still impressive.


For me, the highlight of the show was the USCG Search and Rescue (SAR) demo. Primarily because it was my first time seeing it performed with the MH-60T Jayhawks. This is an important role that the Coast Guard is responsible for and covers a vast area of space. Air Station Traverse City is responsible for all of Lake Michigan, most of Lake Superior and all of Lake Huron. In total, Air Station Traverse City is responsible for air operations over eight states.

If you have never experienced the National Cherry Festival or the Grand Traverse Bay area of Michigan, you are missing out. The event is a fantastic family affair with a number of attractions that appeal to everyone. Thanks for a great time and I look forward to returning.

A special shout out of gratitude to Susan Wilcox Olson (Media Consultant) and Wayne Moody (Air Show Event Director) for the last second media accommodations which resulted in a fantastic vantage point.