For historical reference, this page contains the news items which were originally posted on the main "News" page, starting with the most recent first.
The webmaster accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any information contained on these pages.
2003 Snowbirds news
Four new pilots join the Canadian Forces Snowbirds for next year : Major Chris Hope, Captain Steve Chadwick, Captain Paul Couillard and Captain Chuck Mallett will now begin a rigorous six-month training program, practicing different manoeuvers and formations, getting ready for the 2003 airshow season. In addition to these four display pilots, five new show team technicians/crew also join the squadron. Major Stephen Will remains as the team Leader.
To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of powered flight, the Snowbirds plan to conduct 100 fly-bys at 100 different locations on the North American continent during 2003.
(December 2002. Report from Aero-News Network)
Red Baron Stearman Squadron latest
Jim Keller, a pilot with more than 2400 hours of pilot time in his logbook, is the newest member of Red Baron Pizza's four-man aerobatic team. Keller, 49, will take over the Left Wing position in the formation. He's by no means a newcomer to the Red Baron team, having joined in 1998 as a solo performer and promotional pilot. After flying Left Wing for two years, John McMurray moves to the Slot position.
This year, the Squadron will also have a two-ship team for performances at smaller events. Leading the Red Baron Duo will be veteran airshow performer and former Slot pilot on the Squadron's four-ship demonstration team, Bryan Regan, of Phoenix (AZ). On his wing will be Todd Schaufenbuel of Sioux Falls (SD), in his second season with the Squadron. "The addition of Two-Ship airshow demonstrations adds a stepping stone approach to our training and qualification of new pilots to the team, and opens more Airshow events to Red Baron's marketing efforts. It also provides an exciting and dramatic airshow act with the precision, smoke, and roaring round engines that airshow fans have come to expect of the Red Baron Squadron" said Randy Brooks, Squadron Operations Manager.
(December 2002. Report from Aero-News Network)
Blue Impulse back to full strength
The Japanese Air Self Defence Force Blue Impulse team are finally back peforming a "full strength" six-ship display routine again.
The first public display by the "rebuilt" team took place at the Gifu Air Base Airshow, Japan, on 1st December 2002. Although the team had begun performing as a four-ship some time after the tragic accident which resulted in the loss of three pilots and two solo aircraft, it has been some 30 months since the team last performed with dual solos. Unfortunately, there was heavy cloud on the day of the Gifu Airshow, but a Blue Impulse six-ship display did take place.
(December 2002. Thanks to SIG member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Frecce Tricolori lose an aircraft
On Sunday 27th October, one of the Frecce Tricolori's MB-339 aircraft suffered a birdstrike while landing at their home base of Rivolto, following a flypast display.
The bird (thought to be a seagull) struck the number 10 aircraft, causing a flameout. The pilot tried to reach the runway but was unable to make it, so both occupants of the aircraft had no option but to eject, which they did safely. The aircraft was only about 200 yards short of the runway when the pilot gave the order to eject... so near, and yet so far....
The MB-339, which unconfirmed reports suggest was serial number MM54486, was almost completely destroyed upon impact with the ground. Although it was aircraft number 10, the Frecce Tricolori's solo, it would appear that the pilot on this occasion was not their normal solo pilot. The occupant of the rear seat was one of the team's technical crew.
(October/November 2002. Thanks to SIG members Paul McIvor, England, and Gianfranco Da Forno, Italy.)
Thunder Tiger perform again
The December 2002 issue of Koku-Fan includes a short photo-report of the Taiwanese Thunder Tiger team. The report says that the team came back to airshow scene on Taiwanese Air Force Day in August, following a 5-year period when they did not perform any shows following a fatal accident on 27th June 1997. The photos show that the pilots now wear new yellow flight suits and their AT-3 aircraft have a different badge on their tailfins.
(October 2002. Thanks to SIG member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Saudi "Green Falcons" change their name
Many of you will have read our exclusive report on the Royal Saudi Air Force aerobatic team known as the "Green Falcons" in our Team Spotlight section : It would appear that they have now reverted to their original name of Saudi Hawks - quite when this happened, or why, remains unknown at this time.
Several of our SIG members have been investigating this, as it was sparked off by the recent discovery that Squadron Prints are planning to release a print of a Hawk in the colours of the "Saudi Hawks". To further cloud the issue, at almost the same time, articles about the team appeared in Air Forces Monthly magazine (November 2002 issue) and the German magazine "Flieger Revue", both written by the same authors: It would appear that some of the information used in the two articles was "lifted" from our own website article (notably without our permission, nor any credit to us), but the AFM article called the team "Saudi Hawks", while the Flieger Revue article called them "Green Falcons" !!!
Thanks to some double- and triple-checking by SIG member Adrian Balch, it seems that now both Squadron Prints and AFM magazine have been able to confirm with BAE Systems and the RSAF, that the team are now officially known as the Saudi Hawks again.
(October 2002. Thanks to SIG members Adrian Balch, Phil Adams (Germany) and also to Gill at Squadron Prints and Alan Warnes, Editor of AFM magazine.)
Patrouille Reva find replacement pilot
Following the tragic accident which resulted in the death of one of their three pilots (see below), this French civilian team of Rutan AcroEz aircraft have just announced that they have a replacement pilot and aircraft for the 2003 season.
(September 2002. Thanks to Guillaume Rochette, France.)
Red Arrows away to Canada
The RAF Red Arrows are currently undertaking their short 2002 tour of Canada. The team left RAF Scampton on Monday 26th August, transiting through Kinloss, Keflavik, Sondrestrom and Iqaluit, before travelling on through Goose Bay and Quebec on their way to Toronto for their first displays.
Hans Utne, the father of one of our Norwegian SIG members, lives in Keflavik, Iceland and sent us a few photos of the Reds passing through there en route to Canada :-
We passed these photos on to the Red Arrows, and they have also featured them on their official website at....
.... where you can get the full story of the Canadian tour - and anything else concerning the Red Arrows !
(September 2002. Thanks to SIG member Ørjan Utne, Norway, and Hans Utne.)
Finland's Midnight Hawks change colour
Since the first BAe Hawk was delivered to the Finnish Air Force in 1980, they have always been in a camouflage scheme : Now, the whole fleet are being painted, during major overhauls, to overall Dark Sea Grey /Medium Sea Grey.
At this point in time, more than 50% of the fleet has been repainted and because of this, it has been somewhat difficult for the Midnight Hawks aerobatic team to get four aircraft painted in either the "old" camouflage scheme, or the "new" grey scheme, as they use the aircraft from the Training Squadron. For big shows, they naturally swap planes, if needed, to get an "all-grey" team and their first display with grey Hawks was in June 2001, the aircraft carrying yellow 40cm high numbers on their vertical fins, as before.
The yellow fin numbers was a good colour for the camouflage scheme, but it does not look so good on the grey one. Therefore during the summer, smaller white numbers were tested. The decision has not yet been made as to whether the change to white numbers will become permanent.
Here are some photos of the Midnight Hawks grey aircraft, showing the white number on the fin :-
Note that in the middle photograph, the rudder trim tab is still in the "old" green camouflage colour - this is because the spare parts are also in the process of being repainted so currently, they also exist in both camouflage and grey. Note also in the third photo, that the lead aircraft still wears the "old" camouflage sheme, while the other three are in the overall grey scheme.
The Midnight Hawks 2002 team are (left to right) : Number 4 - 1st Lt. Antti "Onska" Mononen : Number 3 - 1st Lt. Timo "Eki" Rauhala : Number 2 - Capt. Vesa-Pekka "VP" Saarela : Leader - Capt. Joni "Mac" Mahonen.
Click on the thumbnails for larger views - all photos are © Perttu Karivalo, 2002.
(September 2002. Thanks to SIG member Perttu Karivalo, Finland.)
New T-4's for the Blue Impulse
The Japanese Blue Impulse team have finally been allocated two new T-4's, to replace the two aircraft lost in the crash in 2000.
They are numbered 804 and 805; number 804 is already with the team and made its debut at the Niigata AB airshow, whereas number 805 is still at Kawasaki Heavy Industry's Gifu plant, undergoing test flights. This will be delivered to the team soon, but they have not yet announced when they will once again be performing six-ship displays.
(September 2002. Thanks to SIG member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Patrouille Reva accident
One of the three Rutan AcroEz aircraft of the French civillian team Patrouille Reva, crashed at Nancy Airshow, France on Sunday 23rd June 2002, killing the pilot. The accident happened during the team's display at the airshow - an eyewitness report from one of our SIG members says that the team had just executed a triple break when the right wingman's aircraft wingtip struck the ground, sending the aircraft cartwheeling into trees, away from the public areas.
The Rutan AcroEz is an enhanced version of the original VariEz, including strengthened airframe and a more powerful engine. The aircraft that crashed was registered F-PYOL, flown by Michel Coste, a 49 year-old ex-Military pilot from Saverne.
The airshow ceased immediately after the crash, but resumed after approximately 1/2 hour with Patrouille Cartouche Doré performing their display.
The team were scheduled to perform at the Colmar-Meyenheim Airshow in France, just one week later : Understandably, they did not attend the show, but the remaining two aircraft did arrive at Colmar late in the afternoon and made a single flypast with smoke on, as a tribute to their fallen colleague.
Our sympathies go to the family and friends.
The Patrouille Reva website : http://perso.wanadoo.fr/patrouille.reva
(July 2002. Thanks to SIG member Phil Adams, Germany, with additional information from Yahoo:France.)
New World Record for Esquadrilha da Fumaca
The Brazillian Air Force team Esquadrilha da Fumaca have set a new World Record by flying a formation of 11 aircraft inverted for 30 seconds.
They set the new record on 18th May 2002, the weekend of their 50th anniversary, breaking the previous record of a 10-aircraft inverted formation, which was also held by them, set back in 1996. Click here and here to see two video-captured photos of the record-breaking flight.
The team also have new smoke systems fitted to their Tucano aircraft, enabling them to "sky write" by turning each aircraft's smoke on and off whilst flying in formation, spelling out letters in a "dot matrix" manner.
(June 2002. Thanks to SIG member Marcus Sampaio, Brazil.)
Khalifa Jet Team is born !
Following the recent reports (see below) that the French-based civilian Team Apache were re-equipping with L-39 Albatros jets, the new team has now emerged.
Reflecting the name of their new sponsor, they have taken the name of Khalifa Jet Team.
The Algerian-based Khalifa group of companies includes the El Khalifa Bank (the first privately-owned bank in Algeria), Khalifa Airways, Khalifa Rent-A-Car and Antinea Airlines.
The team have painted their L-39's in a smart dark blue and yellow colour scheme, with the Khalifa name appearing prominently on the aircraft, and are already building up a calendar of appearances in the 2002 season.
For full information about the team, see their new website at :-
(June 2002. Thanks to Guillaume Rochette, France.)
"New jets for the Snowbirds" campaign
We recently received this message from Dan Dempsey, ex-Snowbirds Leader and now author, concerning the future for the Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds team :
(June 2002. Thanks to Dan Dempsey, Canada.)
Esquadrilha da Fumaca and Halcones in action at FIDAE 2002
The Brazilian Air Force Esquadrilha da Fumaca showed off their new colour scheme, displaying alongside the Chilean Air Force Halcones at FIDAE 2002 in Los Cerillos, Chile, April 2002.
It seems that the Halcones have now replaced their original Extra 300 aircraft with Extra 300L's - the 'L' apparantly meaning "Low wing", as these new types have the wing at a lower position on the fuselage.
The Halcones' original aircraft are now reported to be retired and on display in museums or on poles.
Here are a few photos from the show :-
Click on the thumbnails for larger photos.
(May 2002. Thanks to SIG member Adrian Balch, and also to SIG member Werner Baier in Germany.)
Next Blue Angels Leader announced
The U.S. "Navy Times" Newspaper has published an article naming Commander Russel Bartlett as the next Flight Leader of the Blue Angels for the 2003-2004 seasons.
(May 2002. Thanks to Lt.Col. Stephen Hoernlein, Eglin AFB, USA.)
Philippine Blue Diamonds pilot killed in crash
A Philippine Air Force F-5 Freedom Fighter crashed into an elementary school compound in Mabalacat town in Pampanga at about 10:30 a.m. on May 2nd 2002, killing its pilot and injuring at least 16 people on the ground - although thankfully, the school itself was empty of pupils, who were on summer break.
The aircraft belonged to the Blue Diamond Squadron under the 600th Air Base Wing based in Floridablanca, Pampanga, and was being piloted by 33-year old Capt. Daniel Policarpio. Although Capt. Policarpio was a member of the Blue Diamonds aerobatic team, he was not flying with the team when the incident occured, but was taking part in the joint US/Philippino "Luzon Balikatan" Exercises.
Residents said the jet exploded in the air and clipped the roofs of several houses before finally crashing into the school, destroying several buildings. But many witnesses also reported seeing the pilot seemingly struggling in the cockpit, fighting to keep control of his aircraft and steer it away from populated areas. Some also reported seeing what looked like a parachute just before impact.
Based on the testimonies of witnesses, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Benjamin Defensor said it seemed that Policarpio had a chance to bail out but decided against it. "With a speed and altitude apparently within the parameters of a good ejection, Captain Policarpio chose to maneuver the plane so that it would crash in a vacant school ground instead of ejecting to safety," Defensor said.
For that, the Philippine Air Force will bestow a citation for gallantry on Capt. Policarpio. His body was flown from Floridablanca, Pampanga, to Villamor Air Base in Pasat City, the headquarters of Policarpios elite unit, the 5th Fighter Wing.
(May 2002. Thanks to Lt.Col. Stephen Hoernlein, Eglin AFB, USA, for alerting us to these news reports in the Manilla Times and Philippine Star.)
Thunderbirds 2002 markings
As a follow-up from the story "New markings for the 2002 Thunderbirds", below, we can now see the "Let's Roll" marking in place on the Thunderbirds F-16C.
Here are two views of the same photo - an overall shot and a closer view showing the positioning of the "Let's Roll" sticker on the Leader's aircraft. The photo has been kindly passed on to us by Lt. Col. Stephen Hoernlein, USAF, and shows the U.S. Secretary of Defense during a visit to Nellis AFB (home of the Thunderbirds) on 20th February 2002.
Click the thumbnails to see larger photos.
(May 2002. Thanks to Lt.Col. Stephen Hoernlein, Eglin AFB, USA.)
New markings for the 2002 Thunderbirds
The words "Let's Roll" have become America's rallying cry in the fight against terrorism, and were made famous by 32-year old businessman Todd Beamer, a passenger on board Flight 93. Before it crashed into a field in western Pennsylvania, Beamer was overheard on a cellular phone reciting the Lord's Prayer and saying "Let's roll!" as passengers charged the terrorists on the aircraft.
The design was created by Senior Airman Duane White, a journeyman from Air Combat Command's multimedia center at Langley Air Force Base, Va. The Thunderbirds and other Air Force demonstration teams will apply this nose art on all aircraft, while major commands and wings will be authorized to apply the nose art to one aircraft of their choice.
Click the thumbnail for a larger version of the design.
(April 2002. Thanks to SIG Member Jonathan Davies and also to Lt.Col. Stephen Hoernlein, Eglin AFB, USA, for the artwork and info.)
Patrouille de France crash - CORRECTION
Despite the report on Yahoo France, as relayed in the "update" below, we are now informed that it was NOT the Leader of the Patrouille de France who was killed in the accident, but in fact was the Number 4 pilot, Flt. Lt. Daniel Marchand, 29, who was destined to become team leader next year.
Apologies for this error and any distress it may have caused.
We have also discovered that the aircraft involved was number E-175, F-TERL.
(April 2002. Thanks to Guillaume Rochette, France, for the correction and to SIG Member Paul McIvor for the serial number info.)
Indonesian team crash
More bad news, this time from Indonesia and their Hawk-equipped team Jupiter. The accident happened on 28th March 2002 - this report from CNN :
Sadly once again, our condolences go to the family and friends of the aircrew, and to the team.
(April 2002. Thanks to Lt.Col. Stephen Hoernlein, Eglin AFB, USA, for alerting us to this story.)
Patrouille de France crash - update
It seems that the pilot of the Patrouille de France who was killed in the training accident last Thursday (see report below) was actually the Leader of the team.
These (translated) details appeared in a news report on Yahoo France :
(April 2002. Thanks to SIG Member Phil Adams, Germany.)
Patrouille de France crash
This sad report put out on the newswire :
Sad news indeed - our condolences go to the family and friends of the pilot, and to the team.
Anyone with any further information, please get in touch.
(April 2002. Thanks to SIG Member Paul McIvor.)
Patrouille de France N.A. tour update
An update on the report below ("Patrouille de France North American tour") :
Pacific Flyer newspaper reports that the Dayton (Ohio) airshow has confirmation that the Patrouille de France will perform each day at the show on July 17-20, 2003. Apparently that will be the first stop on a month long tour. The visit is in recognition of Dayton being home to the Wright Brothers, and will be part of a centennial of powered flight celebration.
(April 2002. Thanks to SIG Member John Cooper, USA.)
Frecce Tricolori to perform in Russia
A report has reached us that on 15th August 2002, the Frecce Tricolori will participate at the Moscow Air Show, organized to celebrate 90 years of the Russian Air Force.
More details if and when we get them.....
(April 2002. Thanks to SIG Member Nicola Foschia, Italy.)
Green Falcons accident update
Following the "Saudi Green Falcons accident" report below, Air Forces Monthly magazine had some more information on the incident :
The two aircraft involved were numbers 8803 and 8804 - both Hawk mk. 65A's. The accident occured whilst the aircraft were on approach to their home base of Tabuk and although both pilots escaped with only minor injuries after ejecting from their Hawks, it seems there were also four more minor injuries on the ground too, as the aircraft came down inside an Army base.
For more information about the Green Falcons team, see the Team Spotlight section here on our own website.
Red Arrows to visit Canada in 2002
For the first time in nine years, the RAF Red Arrows are to make a short tour of Canada during 2002.
The team are planning to perform at the Canadian International Air Show in Toronto from August 31st to 2nd September and the Nova Scotia International Air Show on 7th September 2002.
No doubt this has something to do with it being Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee year, as the Queen is scheduled to visit Canada a month after the Reds visit, as part of the Jubilee celebrations.
For further information, keep an eye on the newsroom on the Official Red Arrows website.
Saudi Green Falcons accident
A short report in the April 2002 issue of Aircraft Illustrated magazine states that two aircraft of the Royal Saudi Air Force Green Falcons aerobatic team collided during a formation landing.
The incident happened on 5th February 2002, apparantly involving two Hawk mk. 65 aircraft - the team have both mk.65's and mk.65A's and with no serial numbers quoted, this cannot be confirmed at present. The good news though, is that both pilots ejected safely.
For more information about the Green Falcons team, see the Team Spotlight section here on our own website.
(March 2002 - reported in Aircraft Illustrated Magazine, April 2002.)
Team Apache jet team update
Following the earlier report "Team Apache to re-equip with L-39 jets" below, the latest news is that they have a new sponsor (although it is not known who this is at the present time) and their L-39 aircraft are expected to arrive in France by late April.
The team are now hoping to be flying a two-aircraft formation in May/June, working up to a four-ship by July.
(March 2002. Thanks to Guillaume Rochette, France.)
The colours of Brazil take off !
A news report from Brazil about the Brazilian Air Force's Esquadrilha da Fumaca aerobatic team :-
Here are some video captures (stills) of the team in action in their new scheme - click on the thumbnails for the larger photo :-
(March 2002. Thanks to SIG member Marcus Sampaio, Brazil.)
Team Apache to re-equip with L-39 jets
The French civilian team, Les Apaches, are to trade in their PC-7's and reform with L-39 Albatros jets !
The team, who started out as Patrouille Martini, becoming Patrouille Ecco, and then Patrouille Adecco, before losing sponsorhip and performing as the two-ship Apache team, very briefly announced the switch to jets on their website :-
However, we have a little more information than that; The team have already sold their PC-7's but are not expecting to take delivery of the L-39's in France until early March 2002. They are hoping to be ready to perform in their new jets by May, but this is not certain.
They are also still without a sponsor for the new team, which will consist of 2 or 3 L-39 aircraft.......
(February 2002. Thanks to Guillaume Rochette, France.)
Patrouille de France North American tour
It seems that the Patrouille de France are planning a North American tour in 2003, from early July to mid-August. No specific dates or venues are known yet, as they are now soliciting propsals for their participation from military and civilian air shows in the USA and Canada during that period.
(January 2002. Thanks to SIG Member John Cooper, USA.)
North American teams' 2002 dates published
The 2002 display dates for the Thunderbirds, Blue Angels and Snowbirds are now out. You can see them at
(January 2002. Thanks to SIG Member John Cooper, USA.)
Next aircraft for the Snowbirds....?
This report passed on to us by Will Chabun, reporter for newspaper "The Leader-Post", in Regina, Saskatchewan :-
(December 2001. Report by Will Chabun/The Leader-Post, Canada.)
New Snowbirds Leader
This report passed on to us by Will Chabun, reporter for newspaper "The Leader-Post", in Regina, Saskatchewan :-
(December 2001. Report by Will Chabun/The Leader-Post, Canada.)
Kleeblatt helicopter team deactivated
Information received from Sergeant Martin Böttcher, of the Austrian Kleeblatt helicopter team, brings the sad news that due to personnel difficulties, the team has been stopped until further notice.
They are hoping to be reactivated in the near future, which will probably be two years. For updates, watch their website at
(December 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Phil Adams, Germany.)
Korean Black Eagles to re-equip....
A photo report in the January 2002 issue of Koku-Fan showed the new KAI T-50 "Golden Eagle" supersonic trainer at its rollout ceremony on 31st October 2001. It also reported that the ROKAF Black Eagles will be reformed with eight A-50 aircraft, the single seat attack version of the T-50, in 2004.
(December 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Masato Ota, Japan.)
We win again at Scale Modelworld 2001 !!
For the second time in four years, we have again won the award for "Best S.I.G. Display" at Scale Modelworld 2001 (aka the IPMS(UK) National Championships), held over the weekend of 3rd & 4th November in Telford, England.
Many thanks and congratulations to all of our members, even those who weren't able to be there in person, because it really was a team effort !!
Photos of the winning display are now posted in the "Gallery" section of our website - I hope you like them !
August 1st team get new aircraft, new scheme
It seems that the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) aerobatic team, August 1st, have recently received updated J-7EB aircraft and have revised their colours to an intricate blue and white scheme.
You can see several photos of their new aircraft on this following web site, which is also a useful modelling reference for all Chinese aircraft :-
Click on "Part II" and scroll down towards the bottom of the page, to "81st Aerobatic Team". Why "81st" and not "August 1st"... unknown...... unless it is because August is the 8th month...??)
(September 2001. Thanks also to SIG Member Masato Ota, Japan..)
New Russian Team....??
The Russian A.F. seem to have a new aerobatic team of smartly blue-and-white painted L-29 Delfin aircraft, which appeared at MAKS 2001.
According to the November 2001 issue of Japanese aviation journal, J-Wings, the team are apparantly named Sky Knights, but other reports indicate them to be called Sky Lancers.
The team of four L-29's are based at Myachkovo, near Moscow.
If anyone out there has any further information, please let us know.
(September 2001. Thanks to SIG Members Masato Ota, Japan, and Adrian Balch.)
First Esquadrilha da Fumaca in new colours
On September 11, 2001, at 16:00 hours, four T-27 Tucano airplanes overflew the Esquadrilha da Fumaca's headquarters, in the Brazilian Air Force Academy. That date was marked in the pages of the Fumaca's history.
After passing through a structural reinforcement inspection in the EMBRAER factory, the first T-27 Tucano (registration number FAB 1308) now painted with the colors of the National Flag, lead three other T-27's with the old red, black and white paint scheme.
The solemnity of delivery of that airplane, was presided over by the General Commandant of the Air, and marked the last public appearance of the T-27 with red/black/white colors and the consolidation of an old dream of showing the Brazilian's Flag colors on the aircraft. According to the Command of Aeronautics and EMBRAER, the Esquadrilha da Fumaca will receive until December, seven more airplanes properly revised and with the new colour scheme.
You can see this report along with photos of the actual aircraft in the new colour scheme at :-
(September 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Marcus Sampaio, Brazil.)
New Breitling Eagles pilot
Cdr. Stefano Rosa has replaced Cdr. Brovedani in the number 2 / Left Wing position in the team. Cdr. Rosa was previously a solo pilot with the Frecce Tricolori in the 90's.
(September 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Gianfranco da Forno, Italy.)
Thunderbirds announce next Leader
The USAF Thunderbirds have announced that the team's Commander/Leader for the 2002/2003 seasons will be Lt.Col. Richard McSpaden, who was former Director of Operations for the 1st Fighter Sqn. at Tyndall AFB and a 2000 hours F-15 Eagle driver.
He began his training on the F-16 in August 2001, at Luke AFB, Arizona and will assume Command of the Thunderbirds in January 2002.
(September 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Gianfranco da Forno, Italy.)
Blue Impulse back in action again
Following the tragic accident on 4th July 2000, which claimed the lives of three team members, the JASDF announced on Tuesday August 8th 2001 that the Blue Impulse will return to the airshow scene at Matsushima AB airshow on 26th August, with 4 aircraft.
It has also been reported that the replacement aircraft for the two lost in the crash will be newly-built by Kawasaki and delivered in March 2003. So, it looks like the team will be performing 4-ship displays for the remainder of 2001 and through 2002.
(August 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Team Rusj mid-air collision - update
We now have more information on the mid-air collision between two of Team Rusj's L-39 Albatros aircraft (see item below "Team Rusj in mid-air collision"). This comes courtesy of a genuine eye-witness report from our Russian SIG member.
The accident happened actually at an airshow in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 10th June 2001. The team took off in two groups of three aircraft and flew away to join up into formation, ready to begin their display. While the six aircraft were about 5km away, there was a bright flash from the formation and a cloud of black smoke. Two aircraft broke away from the formation and fell slowly to the ground. There were then clouds of black smoke rising from a forest.
The airshow was immediately stopped and the authorities began to expel all spectators from the aerodrome. The rest of the team landed and the two aircraft which were missing were numbers 5 and 7.
Both pilots ejected from their aircraft - one was found almost immediately and was alive. The body of the other pilot was found at 8:40pm that evening. The dead pilot was identified as 42-year old Sergey Maksimov. It was revealed that although he had ejected, his aircraft was inverted and too low, and his ejector seat was found embedded in the ground.
The remaining two days of the St. Petersburg airshow were cancelled.
(August 2001. Thanks to SIG member Eugene Pooshkarev, Russia..)
Snowbirds mid-air collision
On Thursday 24th June 2001, two of the Snowbirds Tutor aircraft touched in mid-air, causing one of them to crash.
The incident happened on a "media day" prelude to the International Air Show at London, Ontario, Canada, the following weekend. The two aircraft involved were Snowbird #1, the team leader's aircraft, and Snowbird #5. The #1 aircraft crashed into Lake Erie, but both of the occupants, Snowbirds Leader Major Bob Painchaud, and Sgt. David Wilson, from the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre in London, ejected before impact. Both were rescued from the water and taken to hospitals by helicopter - Maj. Painchaud was reportedly taken to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital in London, but due to the nature of his injuries, Sgt. Wilson was taken to the London Health Sciences Centre, which has a trauma centre. Major Painchaud was only slightly injured and released from hospital within a few hours, while Sgt. Wilson was said to be more severly injured, but was still awake, alert and talking.
The other aircraft involved, flown by Captain Warren Wright, was able to return and land safely back at London after the incident, along with the rest of the team. Reports indicate that there was damage to the leading edge of the wing on his #5 aircraft.
The "Media Day" on which this incident occured, is just that - a special Press-only day held before the annual London International Air Show, and a media flight with the Snowbirds allows some of the local media people and specially invited guests to fly and experience some manoeuvres with the team.
This report on our website has been compiled from various newswire and media reports circulated shortly after the incident. However, we are also fortunate to be able to get a rather more "balanced" view of events from one of our SIG members who is an ex-Snowbird and still has close ties with the team. Several of the published reports indicate that the aircraft were in a nine-plane formation when the incident occured. In fact, they were not - numbers 1 and 5 had broken away from the rest of the formation for a photo-shoot session. What was not mentioned in any of the media reports was that there was also a passenger flying with Capt. Wright in Snowbird #5, well known aviation journalist Mike Reyno.
There were also a number of "sensationalist" items referring to the actual collision as a "fiery crash", "bright flash of light, huge fireball and lots of smoke".... it seems that this is a case of "over-dramatising" by the media, and that there were just (if that's not too light a word for it) two people ejecting from a disabled Tutor aircraft.
When we receive the official, factual story of the incident from Moose Jaw, it will be posted here.
In the meantime, the team have been grounded pending an investigation into the crash. On Tuesday 26th June, Canadian media services reported that Canadian Forces and local police had located the wreckage of Snowbird #1 in the waters of Lake Erie, a little less than two miles south off the shore of Port Burwell, Ontario, and that divers from the Canadian Forces fleet diving unit at CFB Halifax arrived late Monday to begin the recovery effort.
At that time, Sgt. Wilson was still in hospital at the London Health Sciences Centre, and his condition was described as "fair".
(July 2001. Thanks to Alisdair McKie, Earl Watkins, Jean-Luc Debroux and SIG member Tom Kolk for forwarding the media reports. Special Thanks to Canadian SIG member and ex-Snowbird, Tony Edmundson.)
Exclusive Turkish Stars Hercules photos !
Following the report below about the Turkish Stars painting one of the Hercules support aircraft in the teams colours, we now have a set of exclusive photos of the aircraft taken by Italian SIG member Fabio Beato, at a recent air show in Ghedi, Italy.
You can see them in our Gallery.
(July 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Fabio Beato, Italy.)
Team Rusj in mid-air collision
Russian aerobatic team, Team Rusj have had mid-air collision between two of their L-39 Albatros aircraft, resulting in the death of one of the pilots.
The accident was reported on German TV news "RTL Nachtjournal" on Tuesday 12th June, and was said to have occurred at St. Petersburg, apparantly sometime during the weekend of 9th/10th June 2001.
No other details are known at this time, so if anyone has any further information, please contact us.
(June 2001. Thanks to SIG Translator Bianca Adams, Germany.)
Turkish Stars paint their Hercules support aircraft
The Turkish Air Force aerobatic team, the Turkish Stars, have painted one of their Hercules support aircraft in the team's white and red colour scheme.
CLICK HERE to see a photo of it.....
It is said that this is the first of two Hercules' which they intend to paint in these colours. The serial number of this particular one is believed to be 13187.
(June 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Adrian Balch. Photo from Emin Findikli, Turkey, via Adrian Balch.)
Snowbirds accident - the photos !
Following the report below, "Snowbirds aircraft in collapsed gear landing", we now have more information and photos of the aircraft involved.
The incident took place at CFB Comox on Tuesday 10th April; Snowbird #5, Warren Wright, was landing in the 9 plane formation and suffered a hard landing, driving the RH landing gear through the wing skin. The airplane skidded along, broke the nose wheel and the LH gear bent back. The airplane ended up on its smoke tanks. No-one was hurt but the aircraft (#114142) may not make it back to Moose Jaw - that decision will be made sometime in the future.
The following photos were taken of the aircraft in it's quarantine hanger at CFB Comox, while under investigation and examination :-
Note that some of the apparant damage to the wing has actually been cut out in order to remove the landing gear mounting points.
(June 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Tony Edmundson, Canada.)
The new Esquadrilha da Fumaca colour scheme revealed !
Further to the report below about the Brazilian Air Force Esquadrilha da Fumaca getting a new colour scheme, you can now see this scheme illustrated on the following pages on their website :-
(June 2001. Thanks to SIG Members Marcus Sampaio, Brazil, and Terry Mish, USA..)
Russia's Celestial Hussars reform
It was reported in the June edition of Air Forces Monthly magazine that the Russian Air Force Celestial Hussars aerobatic team, which was originally equipped with the Su-25 "Frogfoot" at Kubinka Air Base, but disbanded in 1995, has reformed there with L-39 Albatrosses.
(June 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Adrian Balch.)
Snowbirds aircraft in collapsed-gear landing
This report passed to us by Jean-Luc Debroux, Aviascribe International :
(April 2001. Thanks to Jean-Luc Debroux, Aviascribe International, Belgium, for the report.)
Esquadrilha da Fumaca to get new colour scheme
The Tucano aircraft belonging to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) aerobatic team, Esquadrilha da Fumaca, are currently undergoing special inspection in the Embraer factory. Later in the year, the team are expected to reappear with their aircraft in a brand-new colour scheme of blue, green and yellow (Brazilian national colours).
Details/photographs of the new scheme will be posted here as soon as we see them....
(April 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Gianfranco Da Forno, Italy.)
Thunderbirds Pacific Tour dates finalised
The USAF Thunderbirds 2001 schedule includes a Pacific Tour. Dubbed the "Thunder Over the Pacific" tour, the dates and venues have now been announced. You can see them on :-
Included is a visit to Misawa, Japan, on 16th October.
(April 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Stoli MiGs now sponsored by Smirnoff
The U.S. civilian MiG-17 duo which were formerly known as Red Star Airshows, and then theStoli MiGs, have now got a new sponsor for the 2001 season - Smirnoff vodka. So accordingly, the team have changed their name to Smirnoff MiGs.
Their aircraft have retained their overall red colour scheme, but now all the "Stoli" markings have been changed to "Smirnoff" logos. Pilots remain as before, Randy Howell and Jerry Gallud.
For more information, see :-
New Snowbirds Leader for 2002
The Canadian Snowbirds have announced the name of the pilot who will be taking over as Team Leader from October this year - he is Major Steve Will, and was previously the Number 3 pilot for the 1989 & 90 seasons.
(April 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Tony Edmundson, Canada.)
Breitling Eagles 2001
The Breitling Eagles will perform with a 5 aircraft team for the first time in 2001. This is a civilian team, based in Italy, and all the pilots are ex-Frecce Tricolori pilots. This team was formerly known as the Alpi Eagles, their name now reflecting their current sposorship by the Swiss Breitling watch company.
The 2001 team pilots are : Boscolo (Leader); Brovedani (Number 2 - left wing); Liva (Number 3 - right wing); Vivona (Number 4 - slot); and G.B. Molinaro (Number 5 - solo). Their aircraft are the Sukhoi Su29 and Su31 (the single seat version is used by the solo pilot).
For more information on the team, see :-
On the subject of Breitling sponsorship, it is not yet decided whether they will continue to sponsor the warbird team, the Breitling Fighters, in 2001, but seems certain that their sponsorship will not continue next year.
(April 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Gianfranco Da Forno, Italy.)
Top European teams to visit Sweden
A major airshow will take place in Sweden this year, at F10 Wing at Ängelholm, in the southern part of Sweden, on June 30.
So far, the following display teams are scheduled to perform at the event :- Team 60 (Sweden); Midnight Hawks (Finland); Patrouille Suisse (Switzerland); Frecce Tricolori (Italy).
(April 2001. Thanks to Niklas Knutzén, Sweden .)
Blue Impulse fly again
Following the tragic accident on 4th July 2000, which claimed the lives of three team members, the Japanese Blue Impulse restarted flight training again on 9th February 2001.
They have initially started basic training with 4 aircraft, but the JASDF have announced that the team will restart aerobatic training in April, and return to airshows by Matsushima AB airshow in July.
(February 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Patrulla Aguila to display in Finland
The Spanish Air Force team, Patrulla Aguila, has been authorized to participate in the 2001 Jyväskylä International Air Show, in Finland. This will be the first time the Spanish team have performed in Finland, and will be displaying alongside the Finnish Air Force Academy Midnight Hawks team.
For more details, check out http://www.jyvairshow.com
(February 2001. Thanks to SIG Member Perttu Karivalo, FInland.)
Woman pilot for the Blue Eagles too !
Not to be outdone by the Snowbirds employing a female pilot (see below), the British Army Helicopter Display Team, the Blue Eagles, have also announced that they will have a female display pilot in their 2001 team !
She is 31-year old Sergeant Julie Wiles, and what is even more interesting is that her father was once a member of the Blue Eagles too.
Delighted Julie declared: "It has always been my ambition to be one as well. I am delighted to have achieved that - and to be the first woman to join the squadron."
(February 2001. Thanks to SIG Members Perttu Karivalo (Finland), and Paul McIvor.)
Woman pilot for the 2001 Snowbirds
The Snowbirds have announced that their 2001 team lineup will, for the first time, include a female pilot. She is Capt. Maryse "Marcy" Carmichael, and will be flying as Snowbird 3 in the left wing position.
She has the honour of being the first woman to be a pilot in a military jet team, although the first woman pilot ever to be assigned to a military aerobatic team was Flt. Lt. Joanne Mein, who joined the RAAF Roulettes, flying PC-9's, a couple of years ago.
(December 2000. Thanks to SIG Member Tony Edmundson, Canada.)
Red Arrows return to Scampton for Christmas !
Following the "Red Hot News" items which have appeared on this News page previously, it has been announced that the RAF Red Arrows will return to make their permanent home once again at RAF Scampton, on 21st December 2000, when the airfield is officially re-opened again.
(December 2000. Report by SIG Member Phil Adams.)
Turkish Stars to re-equip... eventually...?
The December 2000 issue of Combat Aircraft Vol 3 /1 (European edition) includes a 4-page feature on the Turkish Stars. Of interest, the article mentions that the team are expected to trade in their NF-5A's and re-equip with F-16C's in 2008....
Now that's forward planning...!! ;-)
(December 2000. Report by SIG Members Geoff Arnold and Adrian Balch.)
Scale Modelworld 2000 - an outstanding event !
The first ever IPMS World Competition, Scale Modelworld 2000, was a wonderful show !!
Many thanks and best wishes to everyone who attended, and we hope you all had as good a time as we all did ! We met many new and old friends during the weekend, and have very happy memories of it all !
Photos of our SIG display can now be seen in the "Gallery" pages - hope you like them !
Ex-Blue Impulse T-2 in museum
The Komatsu Koku Plaza (Aerospace Museum) in Japan, have recently received an ex-Blue Impulse T-2, number 163, to put on display.
Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.
(November 2000 : Report by SIG Member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Patrouille de France to perform in Germany
For the first time in 12 years, an aerobatic display team will be allowed to fly over German soil. The Patrouille de France have been granted permission by the Brandenburg State Government to close the Berlin BDLA Air show by performing a smoke-on flypast.
No aerobatic teams have been allowed to fly in Germany since the Frecce Tricolori's disaster at Ramstein Air Base in 1988. Despite this being just a flypast, it represents a major step forward for the relaxing of the aerobatic restrictions imposed in the aftermath of Ramstein.
This historic finale to the Berlin Show will take place on Saturday 30 Sept 2000
(September 2000 : Report by SIG Member Phil Adams, Germany.)
Polish team news
The Polish Air Force Team Orlik were recently seen performing at the Biggin Hill Air Show in England on 17th September 2000; This year, they have obtained sponsorship from a Polish TV company, and the team's aircraft carry a large "TVP" stickers on the sides of their fuselages.
CLICK HERE to see a photograph.
According to the pilots of Team Orlik, the other Polish aerobatic team, Iskry, are still awaiting all their Iskra jet trainer aircraft to be upgraded, which is not only taking longer than expected, but they have run out of funds, Therefore, half the team's Iskaras are the upgraded versions, while the remainder are still in their original, old configuration.
Also subject to funding, Team Orlik hope to be able to adopt a special red and white colour scheme for next year.....
(September 2000 : Report by SIG Member Adrian Balch.)
Snowbirds mid-air incident
The Canadian Snowbirds suffered a "minor" mid-air collision in Toronto, Ontario, on Monday September 4th 2000.
The incident occurred when the team was taking off from Pearson International Airport for a show along the Lake Ontario waterfront, as part of the Canadian National Exhibition. Snowbirds 1 and 4 made contact with each other, the number 4 aircraft touching the lead's stabilizer. Both aircraft landed safely and the display was scrubbed. I have not received any information about the extent of the damage to the two aircraft involved.
On a day with clear skies and bright sunshine, this was especially disappointing for the spectators, as heavy rain had kept the team grounded for the previous two days when they were scheduled to perform.
(September 2000 : Report by Alasdair McKie, Canada.)
3 killed in Blue Impulse accident
The Japanese Blue Impulse suffered the loss of three of their pilots when two of their Kawasaki T-4 aircraft crashed while returning to their home base of Matsushima, on 4th July 2000.
The aircraft disappeared from radar at 10:20am Japanese time and all communication with them was lost. A search and rescue operation was launched, and a signal from one of the pilot's handy radios was picked up at about 12:30am. It appeared that the aircraft had crashed on a mountain to the east of Matsushima. The rescue mission was hampered by bad fog in the search area, and initially the rescue team could not locate either the aircraft or crew. However, they announced that the search would go on through the night.
Sadly, it was released next morning, at 8:00am Japanese time, 5th July, that two crashed aircraft and the bodies of the three pilots had been found in Hikari-zan mountain, about 25 km east of Matsushima AB. The three pilots have been named as Maj. Mikio Abe, Capt. Miki Ichishima and Capt. Tomohiro Umekawa, all solo pilots with the team. The two aircraft involved were 720 (number 5) and 727 (number 6).
Their next four displays in July and August have been immediately cancelled, and the remainder of their display season is under consideration.
Although no reasons for the crash have yet been given, it seems to have caused a political problem, as the two aircraft crashed only about 6km away from the Onnagawa atomic power plant, and local residents are understandably alarmed at what could have happened....
Ironically, it was exactly nine years ago to the day, 4th July, that two Blue Impulse T-2's crashed in the Pacific.....
(July 2000 : Report by SIG member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Biele Albatrosy tragedy
The Slovak Biele Albatrosy (White Albatross) team have lost their number 3 pilot, Major Lubo Novák, in a accident during a performance on 3rd June 2000.
No other information is known at this time, other than this short announcement on the official Biele Albatrosy website.
(June 2000 )
"Dirty" Thunderbirds 2000 !
As most will know, the USAF Thunderbirds are renowed for keeping their F-16s in perfectly clean and shiny, pristine condition. However, this year, the tailfin of the number 4 "slot" aircraft is being allowed to become smoke-blackened from being in the exhaust of the lead aircraft, as a gesture of heritage to past Thunderbirds.
Older types of Thunderbirds aircraft had the tailfins of their slot aircraft so smoke-blackened that the markings were almost totally obliterated. This practice stopped when the team received their T-38s, and from then on, the number 4 aircraft's tailfin was kept clean and polished... until now. However, due to the relative cleanliness of modern jet engines, the number 4 F-16C currently has a fairly clean tailfin, it's markings still perfectly visible with just a small amount of "soot" on the leading edge and top.
CLICK HERE to see a photo.
(June 2000 : Report by SIG member Phil Adams, Germany.)
French Connection accident report
(June 2000 : Report forwarded by SIG member Tom Kolk, USA..)
French Connection tragedy
The civillianFrench Connection Airshow team of husband and wife Daniel Heligoin and Montaine Mallet were both tragically killed as a result of a mid-air collision between their two Mudry CAP 10 aircraft on Sunday 27th May.
Here's the story as it went out over the newswire :-
This is indeed very sad news. You get get the latest reports and see their condolences on the French Connection Airshow web site at http://www.mudryaviation.com
Our sympathies go to Daniel and Montaine's family and friends.
(May 2000 : Report forwarded by SIG member Tom Kolk, USA..)
"Blunderbirds" get lost over DC !
That headline appeared on the (U.S.) Air Force Times in May ! Here's the full story from the May 24th edition of the Washington Post. :-
(June 2000 : Report forwarded by SIG member Tom Kolk, USA.)
Brand-new team in New Zealand
The Royal New Zealand Air Force has formed a new aerobatic team called the Black Falcons.
Formed by 14 Squadron, they consist of five Aermacchi MB339's, presently in standard markings of grey/green camouflage, with the 14 squadron bars either side of the roundel.
It appears that at least one aircraft has a smoke system installed, whilst others are fitted with external smoke generator pods. CLICK HERE to see a photograph.
(May 2000 : Report by SIG member Richard Holland, New Zealand.)
Snowbirds future safe
It was announced officially on 18th April 2000 at the Moose Jaw Airshow, which opens the Snowbirds 2000 season, that the team's future is assured until at least 2006.
Major General Lloyd Campbell, Operational Commander of the Canadian Air Force, stated that a plan of stable funding (to the sum of around $15 million per year) has been put into place to keep the Snowbirds in the air for the next six years. At that point, the situation will be reviewed and a decision will be made about replacing the team's aging CT-114 Tutors with different aircraft.
The team will also remain based at Moose Jaw, which will require servicing and maintenance arrangements to be made with 15 Wing, who are also based there, in order to maintain the Snowbirds soon-to-be-unique Tutors. The Snowbirds will soon be the only unit in the Canadian Air Force to operate the Tutor, as they are currently being phased out and there will be no new pilots trained on the aircraft.
Maj-Gen. Campbell believes the coming years will be an opportunity to evaluate the suitability of the new planes in the military inventory - Harvard II trainers and Hawk jets.
(April 2000 : Reports by SIG members Tony Edmundson, Canada, and John Cooper, USA.)
We win at the Scottish National Modelling Championships!
We are very proud that our display at the 2000 Scottish National Modelling Championships won the award for the "Best Club Display".
The event was held over the weekend of 15th & 16th April 2000, for the last time at the Albert Halls, Stirling, and was a very enjoyable show. What is even more amazing is that at the same time, we also had other members of the SIG putting on an equally impressive display 350 miles away in Hinckley !
Photos of our winning display in Scotland are posted on this web site in the "Picture Gallery" section. We hope you like it !
Red Arrows return to Scampton - official !
It was announced officially at a press conference on 29th March that the RAF Red Arrows will be returning to make their permanent home back at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire.
Still no date has been set for this, but it has now been officially acknowledged that it will happen.
Remember - you read it here first, three months ago (see "Red Hot News", below ) !!!
Northern Lights get Jets
The Canadian civilian team Northern Lights are in for a big shake-up this year - here is an extract from the March 2000 issue of "Pacific Flyer" aviation newspaper :-
(April 2000 - Thanks to SIG member John Cooper, USA, for forwarding this report.)
Red hot news !!
Following on from our "Red hot rumour" news item last October (see below), we now have exclusive news that the RAF Red Arrows WILL be returning to make their permanent home once more at RAF Scampton.
It seems that the move was due to take place in October '99, but was delayed for some reason. We still don't have details of the date this relocation is likely to take place, but the story is now that it IS going to happen.
(January 2000 : Report by Andy Murray.)
The South African Silver Falcons
Following on from the report "Silwer Valke disbanded" in June '99 (see below), the latest information received direct from South Africa indicates that the new mount for the Silver Falcons / Silwer Valke is to be the British Aerospace Hawk 100, when it is finally delivered. In the meantime, there is the possibility that the team may fly the Pilatus PC-7 Astra.
(January 2000 : Report by SIG Leader Jonathan Davies.)
Latest news from the Snowbirds
The following information has been passed on by SIG member and ex-Snowbird Tony Edmundson, from correspondence received from current Snowbirds team leader, Major Robert "Cowboy" Painchaud.
(January 2000 : Report by SIG member Tony Edmunson, Canada.)
Thunderbirds European Tour in 2000
The USAF Thunderbirds have announced their schedule for the 2000 display season, and it includes a European Tour.
You may remember that they were actually scehduled to undertake a Eurpoean Tour in 1999, but this was cancelled due to the crisis in Kosovo. However, it seems that this tour has now been rescheduled for 2000, and will take place between the 5th - 25th June. Actual venues and show dates have not yet been finalised/released, so keep a check on the official Thunderbirds website for the latest news.
(December 1999 : Report by SIG member John Cooper, USA.)
Blue Angels return to flight
The Blue Angels were scheduled to take to the air again for their End-of-Season Homecoming Show at Pensacola Naval Air Station on12th/13th November.
No cause has yet been determined for the accident that took the lives of two team members at Moody AFB, Georgia on October 29th.
(November 1999 : Report by SIG member Tom Kolk, USA.)
Snowbirds "disbanding" - the REAL story !
There has been an awful lot of news and publicity in recent months regarding the supposed disbanding of the Canadian Snowbirds after their 2001 display season. Suspecting that a lot of this may be media hype, I have deliberately resisted jumping on the mass-hysteria bandwagon, due to the lack of some hard facts. This is why no "news" stories of this nature have yet appeared on this website, when many others are campaigning the "Save Our Snowbirds" slogan, and more.
Now, thanks to information obtained direct from Moose Jaw by Canadian SIG member Tony Edmundson, an ex-Snowbird himself, we can tell the real story of the supposed Snowbirds "disbandment" :-
The stories concerning the demise of the Snowbirds which hit the headlines around late summer, were mainly media-driven. Documents were correctly referred to, that the team's budget was secure to the end of 2001. But this fact was rather mis-represented by the news media and taken out of context, so that it was reported that there was no budget after 2001, therefore, no team. The documents didn't say that - they only said that the teams budget was secure until the end of 2001.
Once the hype had started, there was a large public and military response to the reports and even the Canadian Prime Minister was quoted in the papers indicating he thought that getting rid of the team was not a good idea.
Nobody can read into the future, but no levels of the Canadian Military would admit that there was any plan to eliminate the team.
Plans were made some time ago, to have all the Candadian Armed Forces Tutor aircraft transferred to the Snowbirds as they were phased out of normal flying training duties. This would then result in making the Snowbirds a much bigger squadron, and centralising all the maintenance facilities for the ageing Tutor. This does not mean that the Snowbirds would become a bigger team, just that they would have more "spare" aircraft in order to keep them going.
The Canadair Tutor's replacement in flight training school, the Beechcraft-built PC9/Harvard II, has not yet begun delivery, so at the moment the Tutors are still in use and have not begun transferring to the Snowbirds. This is still expected to happen once the Tutor is phased out of the flight training program.
This plan could then keep the Snowbirds flying in their familiar and much-loved Canadair Tutors for many years to come.
At this moment in time, the Snowbird team has had their year end break, the new pilots and ground crew have been chosen and practice has begun for the 2000 season. The upcoming year should prove to be a busy one with it being 2000 and the teams 30th anniversary.
(November 1999 : Report by SIG member Tony Edmundson, Canada.)
Blue Angels crash
On Thursday October 28th 1999, the Blue Angels suffered a tragic accident which claimed the lives of two of their pilots. The following are news reports of the incident :-
(October 1999 : Reports from Earl Watkins, Tom Kolk (USA) and Perttu Karivalo (Finland).)
Red hot rumour......
The Red Arrows look set to move back to RAF Scampton.
The team had their home base there for many years until leaving in November 1995 when Scampton was closed down. The team moved to RAF Cranwell, but this was always said to be "temporary", until a new permanent home could be found for them. However, Scampton was never completely closed down, and in fact, although based out of Cranwell, the Red Arrows have continued to practice their routines in the airspace above RAF Scampton.
Now, it seems, the RAF is posting people back in to Scampton and the Station Headquarters building is getting busier, and all indications are that the Red Arrows will return to make their home there again in the near future. No news on the date of this move, but more details as we get them....
(October 1999 : Report by Andy Murray.)
More Japanese teams with only white smoke
Following on from the news of the Blue Impulse not using coloured smoke this year, more reports from Japan indicate that Rainbow Cobra (a combined team of two Bell AH-1 and four Hughes OH-6 helicopters) and also Northern Ladybird (five Hughes OH-6 helicopters) are also using only white smoke this year. This is presumably for the same reasons as the Blue Impulse (explained below), but this is unconfirmed.
(October 1999 : Report by SIG member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Asas de Portugal not reforming
It seems that the rumours of the Portuguese Air Force team, Asas de Portugal, being reformed using Alpha Jets are not true. This has been confirmed to us by a Portuguese A.F. Alpha Jet pilot, Capt Sergio Silva of 301 Sqn. The reason apparently is that it is infeasible due to operational requirements of the entire Portuguese Alpha Jet fleet.
(October 1999 : Report by SIG member Phil Adams, Germany.)
Blue Angels birdstrike
One of the Blue Angels F/A-18's ingested a bird into an engine on Monday 6th September 1999, on leaving Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland.
The team had been performing at the Cleveland National Airshow that weekend, and the incident happened as the team were departing the site. Realising that he had a problem, the pilot, Lt. Cmdr. David Silkey, dumped fuel over Lake Erie to lighten the load before returning safely to the airport.
A replacement engine was to have been flown in and fitted on Tuesday 7th September.
(September 1999 : Thanks to Earl Watkins, USA, for sending this report.)
Another tragedy for Red Baron Stearman Squadron
On 29th June 1999, the Red Baron Stearman Squadron lost ferry pilot Marv Randall in a fatal accident. The team Stearmans were being ferried from Portland Oregon to St. Louis Missouri airshow sites. After stopping in Cheyenne Wyoming to refuel, the planes departed on the next leg of their flight. Randall was flying tail position in the four plane formation, and didn't indicate any problems in radio contact with the other pilots. About two minutes after the last radio contact, the number three pilot noticed Randall was gone, and the remaining three planes reversed course. The plane was found crashed in a wheat field a few minutes later.
According to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident report, the plane hit the ground at full power, indicating that the pilot may have been incapacitated prior to the accident.
The team hit the International news headlines for all the wrong reasons back in April 1998, when two of their four members were killed in a mid-air collision during an air show performance in Florida.
(August 1999 : Report by SIG member John Cooper, U.S.A.)
Blue Impulse white smoke explanation
Following the story below ("Blue Impulse lacking colour..."), the team have explained the reason for not using coloured smoke in their 1999 display routine : A statement from the team's public affairs division reveals that they are currently working on improving the vaporisation of the dyes used for their coloured smoke, and will return to using coloured smoke again when this project is completed. Until then, they will be using white smoke only.
(July 1999 : Report by SIG member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Finnish Army Hughes Synchro Team
The Finnish Army Hughes Synchro Team gave their first public performance since the autorotation crash of one of their Hughes 500D helicopters last Summer. The venue for this display was the Midnight Summer Airshow at the Finnish Air Force Academy, Kauhava, on Friday 25th June 1999.
The team are now flying two Hughes 500E helicopters, with the sharp pointed nose, which gave a new look to their show.
For more details, see the report headed "Finland's Army Helicopter team", below.
(July 1999 : Report by SIG member Perttu Karivalo, Finland.)
Blue Angel pilot quits team
The Blue Angels Marine pilot for 1999, Maj. Scott Wedemeyer, who flies in the number 3 position, has resigned his position on the team because of an "inappropriate" relationship with the Blue Angels female Public Affairs Officer.
Already it seems, LCDR. Mark Dunleavy, who was last year's number 4, has been recalled from VFA-34 to take over on the right wing position. LCDR. Dunleavy had also previously flown in the left wing position. This means that the Blue Angels will be finishing the current season without a Marine pilot in the formation.
The public affairs duty has been assumed temporarily by CDR. Jack Papp, who is PAO for the Chief of Naval Education and Training at NAS Pensacola.
(June 1999 : Thanks to Earl Watkins, USA, for forwarding this info from various sources.)
Frecce Tricolori birdstrike
During the 1999 SIAD air show at Bratislava, Slovakia, held on Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th June, two of the Frecce Tricolori aircraft experienced bird strikes during their display on the Saturday. Apparently, two of their MB339 aircraft ingested birds into their engines, but were both able to land safely.
(This is the same show that hit the media headlines on the Sunday for the crash of the British Aerospace Hawk demonstrator.)
(June 1999 : Thanks to Peter Kemka, Slovakia, for sending this report.)
Thunderbirds resume display schedule
Following on from their mid-air incident (see other stories below), the USAF Thunderbirds have now resumed their normal display schedule for the 1999 season.
This statement was released on 2nd June 1999 :-
The Thunderbirds returned to the air show circuit following Maj. Gen. Glen Moorhead's decision to suspend the show schedule and recall the team back to Nellis for training. Moorhead is the Air Warfare Center commander here.
"The Thunderbirds had an incredible month of training and are ready to resume the show schedule," said Moorhead. "I'm confident the American public will continue to enjoy the precision and professionalism that the Thunderbirds display on behalf of the U.S. Air Force."
The team had cancelled demonstrations through May 29 following an incident that occurred during an air show at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., in April. The team continues with its original schedule during a weekend stop in Mankato, Minn., June 5-6.
"For the past month, we've been training hard and reviewing our practices and procedures," said Lt. Col. Brian Bishop, Thunderbird commander and leader. "Safety is paramount for us. The entire squadron has been working hard to ensure we are going to put on the safest and most professional show possible.
"I can't say enough about how the squadron pulled together this past month," Bishop added. "We are looking forward to returning to the skies and showing the American people what the 360,000 men and women in the Air Force are doing for them every day."
(June 1999 : Thanks to Earl Watkins, USA, for sending this report.)
Blue Impulse lacking colour........
The Japanese Blue Impulse are apparently only using white smoke in their 1999 performances.
This team have long been known for using many different colours of smoke in their displays - each individual aircraft being capable of producing both white and one other colour of smoke, each colour being different from the others. It seems that they have dropped the coloured smoke this season, possibly due to budgetary constraints.
(May 1999 : Report by SIG member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Thunderbirds back in the air again
Following their mid-air "incident" (see item below), the USAF Thunderbirds have now resumed flight training. The following report was released on 18th May 1999 :-
The Air Force Thunderbirds resumed flight training this week in preparation for resuming their 1999 aerial demonstration schedule.
It is still unclear how long the Thunderbirds will train before they return to their show schedule; however, the team has cancelled demonstrations through May 29.
Maj. Gen. Glen W. Moorhead III, Air Warfare Center commander, suspended the 1999 aerial demonstration show schedule April 28 and recalled the team to Nellis in order to conduct a full review of an incident that occurred during an air show at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., April 25.
Following a thorough review of the incident, Brig. Gen. Bill Lay, commander of the 57th Wing, the parent organization for the Thunderbirds, made the decision to recall a former, experienced Thunderbird pilot to the team to replace Capt. Russell Mack, one of the pilots involved in the mishap. Maj. Mark Arlinghaus, solo for the 1997 and 1998 Thunderbird teams, has begun training to fill the right-wing position for the remainder of the 1999 aerial demonstration season.
"After analyzing all material available to me, I concluded it was in the best interest of the Thunderbirds to bring back Major Arlinghaus," said Lay. "As General Moorhead said last week, safety is our primary concern. We have a responsibility to the public and the team to take a hard look at how we do business after an incident like this. We stepped back and examined the make up of the team, the members' level of experience, our training practices and maneuvers...I'm confident the team is on the right track to resuming the demonstration season."
(May 1999 : Thanks to Earl Watkins, USA, for sending this report.)
Silwer Valke disbanded
A report in the June 1999 issue of Aircraft Illustrated magazine states that the South African Air Force's Silver Falcons/Silwer Valke have been deactivated due to budgetary constraints and the restructuring of the newly-amalgamated South African National Defence Force.
However, on a brighter note, AI reported that the Team Leader, Lt. Col. F. N. Vermaak was hopeful that the team would be reinstated later.
(Reported in Aircraft Illustrated, June 1999.)
Patrouille Adecco=Apache Aviation Team
The French civilian team famous around the European airshow circuit for it's displays as Patrouille Martini, Patrouille Ecco and latterly, Patrouille Adecco, are to slim down to a two-ship team for the 1999 season.
The Team started off flying three SF.260 before changing to the Pilatus PC-7 and building up to four aircraft. As a civilian team, operated by team leader Jacques Bothelin's company, Apache Aviation, they have always flown under their sponsor's name - firstly Martini, then for employment agency Ecco, and for the last couple of years for restructured employment agency Adecco.
Adecco have now withdrawn their sponsorship of the team, and it has left them without a major budget for the 1999 season. So, they have reduced the team to only two aircraft due to the financial constraints, but will still perform, now under the name Apache Aviation Team. The team leader will (as usual) be Jacques Bothelin, and his number two will be Phillipe Laloix, a former Patrouille de France pilot.
If a major sponsor can be found for the year 2000, the team have plans to increase to a five-ship formation for the first time. It is also reported that Apache Aviation has plans to re-engine the PC-7's with the more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-62 turboprop, as used in the Pilatus PC-9.
(Reported in Aircraft Illustrated, June 1999.)
The USAF Thunderbirds have been temporarily grounded following an incident in which two of their F-16C's touched in mid air.
The incident happend on 25th April 1999 at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, and occured during the Diamond Take Off. As the team began their aerial demonstration during the Air and Space Expo '99, Thunderbirds 3 and 4 came into contact with each other, reportedly the left horizontal stabilizer of the No. 3 jet touching the right wing of the No. 4 jet. The result was minor damage (said to be "paint chipping and bent metal") to each airframe. The display was immediately cancelled and all the aircraft landed safely, with no injuries to anyone. In fact, it was reported that the public didn't realise anything was wrong until ambulances rushed to the runway as the team landed. The team's spokesman,1st Lt. Guy Hunneyman, said it's the only time he can remember the team having to cancel a show after such a mishap. The two pilots involved were Maj. Russell Mack and Maj. Scott Bowen, who have a combined total of 4,200 flying hours between them.
The Thunderbirds returned to their home at Nellis A.F.B. Nevada, to begin an investigation into the mishap. Then, the following statement was released on April 28th :-
"The Commander of the Air Force's Air Warfare Center has suspended, until further notice, the 1999 U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds' aerial demonstration show schedule. The suspension was made April 28. Maj. Gen. Glen Moorhead made the decision after reviewing circumstances surrounding an incident during an air show April 25 at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. "Safety is our No. 1 concern," Moorhead said. "We have a responsibility to both the public and the team after an incident like this to step back and take a hard look at our practices and procedures."
Then, another statement was released the following day :-
"Because of April 28's suspension of the 1999 U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration schedule, the commander of the Air Warfare Center here has postponed the May 8 Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., air show. A new date hasn't been determined."
"Maj. Gen. Glen W. Moorhead III suspended the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration schedule after reviewing the circumstances surrounding an incident during an air show April 25 at Patrick AFB, Fla. "Safety is our No. 1 concern," Moorhead said. "We have a responsibility to both the public and the team after an incident like this to step back and take a hard look at our practices and procedures. "No one understands the importance of the Thunderbirds mission more that the men and women of Nellis Air Force Base, and the people of the Las Vegas Valley," he added. "The Nellis air show is our way of thanking these same people for their support. It would be inappropriate for Nellis to have the 1999 air show without the Thunderbirds. So, we will wait for their return; after we have reviewed this incident thoroughly." "
(May 1999 : Thanks to Earl Watkins, USA, and SIG members John Cooper & Tom Kolk, USA.)
Hawks ..... and Hawks again !
Lappeenranta International Airshow in Finland on 5th & 6th June 1999, will be the first ever time that two display teams flying the British Aerospace Hawk will appear at the same airshow !
The RAF Red Arrows will display on Sunday June 6th, and the Finnish Air Force display team Midnight Hawks will perform on both days.
More info about the show can be found from http://www.fin-airshow99.com
(April 1999 : Report by SIG member Perttu Karivalo, Finland.)
New Hamamatsu Museum opens
On 4th April 1999, the Japan Air Self Defence Force opened a
new museum at Hamamatsu Air Base. Amongst the exhibits are a pair of
ex-Blue Impulse aircraft, an F-86 and a T-2. The T-2 (number 111)
is a genuine, ex-team airframe, and is in fact one of the oldest surviving
examples of the T-2, being one of the two unarmed pre-production aircraft which
was then assigned to the Blue Impulse. The other aircraft of this
type, number 112, was lost in an accident while training on 4th July 1991.
Click on the thumbnails to see the full size pictures :-
(April 1999 : Report by SIG member Masato Ota, Japan.)
Another update on the Canadian Snowbirds, following "Latest Snowbirds News" on the "News Archives" page :
Pilot #3, Warren Wright who was temporarily removed from the formation due to the parachute weight problem, will rejoin the formation as #3 in 2000.
Other changes in personnel due to circumstances are;
The weather during this years pre-season training has been absolutely terrible. For the usually wide open skies of the prairies, the day to day weather this winter was fraught with IFR days that nobody had seen before. Approximately six weeks of flying was lost due to the poor flying weather.
First show will be the official acceptance show on 30 April 99
(April 1999 : Report by SIG member Tony Edmundson, Canada.)
Ukrainian Falcons back again
Following the death of their Leader in a crash back in March '98, the Ukrainian Falcons were disbanded for the remainder of the 1998 season (see reports on the "News Archives" page). Word is out that they have now reformed with a new Leader, and should be bringing their MiG-29's to the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford, England in July.
(April 1999 : Report by SIG member Adrian Balch.)
Finland's Army Helicopter Team
In spring/summer 1999 the Finnish Army will get new training helicopters to replace Hughes 500D, serial number HH-5, which made a heavy landing and was written off in summer '98. This crash brought an end to the displays of the Army's Hughes Syncro Team, due to the fact that the Finnish Army only had two of them (HH-4 and HH-5) in their inventory.
To improve helicopter training, the Finnish Army has bought a Hughes 500D from Sweden (to become HH-6 in the Finnish Army), a Hughes 500E from Norway (HH-7) , and a Hughes 500E from Sweden (HH-8). This will radically improve helicopter training and naturally will bring the Army's Hughes Syncro Team back to the airshow circuit !
(March 1999 : Report by SIG member Perttu Karivalo, Finland.)
New Red Arrows pilot
Following the landing "incident" involving one of their Hawks back in October 1998, it appears that the Red Arrows have replaced the pilot involved. The new 'Red 2' is Flt. Lt. Jim Provost.
You can see him and the rest of the 1999 team on the official Red Arrows website.
Latest Snowbirds news
Following the tragic death of Capt. Mike Vandenbos in December '98, the Snowbirds number 2 position is being filled by Capt. Ian Searle, who was going to be a coordinator/pilot this year and who was previously number 6 in the 95-96 seasons.
Since the accident, it has now emerged that, Irvin, the makers of the parachutes used in the Canadair Tutor, said they could not guarantee the chute to support more than 250lbs. That meant a pilot could not weigh more than 180lbs, as the seat pack and parachute weigh in at 70lbs. That grounded 60% of the Flying School and all but 4 Snowbirds pilots.
A 'workaround' was to empty the seatpacks to let up to 210lb
pilots fly. This still forced one pilot to leave the team (#3 Warren Wright).
He will be replaced by Capt. Norm Dequier, who was previously with the team in
the #9 solo position during the 94-95 seasons. A few of the ground crew have
until April to lose a few pounds to be legal.
The final solution to the chute/weight situation hasn't been determined yet, but looks to involve using the old F-5 chute, which could carry more weight. They have to be found and delivered.
All this and an expose-type TV show in Canada, focusing mainly on the T-33 ejection seat (but referred to the Tutor as well) has given the team a little too much of the wrong kind of PR lately.
(February 1999 : Reported by SIG member Tony Edmundson, Canada. )
Aircraft Illustrated, February 1999
The February '99 issue of Aircraft Illustrated magazine contains a feature on the Russian Team Rusj and Polish Iskry aerobatic teams.
Said to be the start of a series of features about "smaller display teams", it has good photographs of Team Rusj's L-39 Albatros aircraft in their smart new paint scheme, and also details of Iskry's upgraded TS-11 aircraft, including a photograph of their slightly revised markings.
The same issue also carries an article on the Pakistan Air Force, in which their aerobatic team, The Sherdils, also get a mention.
(Aircraft Illustrated, February 1999)
Sadly, also in the same issue of Aircraft Illustrated is a report of the crash of one of Iskry's aircraft on 11th November 1998.
A single aircraft was sent up to do a weather check over the Otwock area, near Warsaw, prior to taking part in a show celebrating the 80th anniversary of Polish Independance. The aircraft (which was number 5 in the team, serial number 1H 0713) crashed due to icing on the airframe, and both occupants were killed.
A major inquiry was launched into why the aircraft was airborne when the the regions weather charts were reported to show that all flights should have been cancelled.
(Aircraft Illustrated, February 1999)
Snowbirds accident reports
Following are Canadian Forces reports on the fatal accident which happened to the Snowbirds on 10th December 1998 (see "Snowbirds tragedy" below).
Snowbird crash, December 10, 1998 investigation update
8 January 1999
The field portion of the flight safety investigation into the fatal crash of a Canadian Forces Snowbird aircraft has been completed and an Aircraft Occurrence Summary has been prepared. The accident occurred December 10, 1998, 26 kilometres south of 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Captain Michael VandenBos lost his life in the crash.
Work at the crash site began December 11, 1998 and proceeded quickly. The enclosed Aircraft Occurrence Summary, prepared by the Directorate of Flight Safety, contains factual information pertaining to the crash.
"At this stage in the investigation, it does not appear as though the accident was caused by mechanical problems with the aircraft " says Colonel Michel Legault, the Director of Flight Safety.
Colonel Legault is available for interviews. He may be contacted through the air force public affairs staff at the numbers below.
For further information, please contact\pour plus ample information, s.v.p. contactez: Lieutenant-Commander Philip Anido at\à (613) 995-5320 or\ou Captain Dale MacEachern at\à (613) 995-3105, fax 995-5814 National Defence Headquarters, Quartier general de la Defense nationale, Ottawa, Canada, K1A 0K2
From the Investigator
On the morning of 10 Dec 98, a formation of six aircraft from 431 (AD) Sqn was conducting training maneouvres to the South of CFB Moose Jaw. The aircraft were in arrow formation with the outer left echelon position vacant. The maneoeuvre, called an "up and down left spiral right" comprised a left wingover followed by a descent to a reversing right level turn. The appointed Team lead was not present and the formation was being led by Snowbird #7.
As the formation rolled through approximately 50 degrees of right bank in a level turn at 1200 AGL and 260 KIAS, the underside of the left wing of aircraft number 6 came into contact with the upper surface of the right horizontal stabiliser of aircraft number 2.
The entire horizontal stabiliser and part of the vertical stabiliser separated from aircraft #2 and the aircraft dropped through the bottom of the formation. The #2 aircraft rolled inverted under extreme negative G, stalled and fell vertically to the ground. The pilot ejected from the aircraft and suffered fatal injuries upon impacting the ground. The aircraft struck the ground in an inverted position and sustained A category damage.
At the moment of impact, the position error between aircraft #2 and aircraft #6 was approximately 14 laterally and 5 vertically. The preliminary investigation has not yet found evidence of pre-impact material failure or system malfunctions that might have contributed to the accident. Part of the aircraft wreckage has been shipped to Ottawa for detailed analysis.
The investigation has not yet determined if the pilot of aircraft #2 ejected within the prescibed ejection envelope. However, it has been determined that the airlock fasteners on the pilots rigid seat survival kit (RSSK) were not connected when seat/man separation was initiated. The pilots maritime lanyard was also not connected. Post ejection contact occurred between the pilot, the ejection seat and the unattached RSSK. The significance of this post ejection contact has not been determined and is under investigation.
The investigation has moved from 15 Wing Moose Jaw to DFS Ottawa.
(Report forwarded by SIG member Tom Kolk, U.S.A.)
The Indonesian Air Force's blue and yellow F-16 equipped Elang Biru team has been temporarily disbanded due to the reassignment of key members.
The team was originally formed by Sku. 3 in 1995 and gave it's debut performance on Armed Forces Day on October 5th 1995. Now, operational requirements and a monetary crisis mean that the only Indonesian Air Force aerobatic team will be Team Jupiter from Sku.15, flying the BAe Hawk Mk. 53.
(Reported in Air Forces Monthly, Dec. 98. Thanks to SIG member Tom Kolk, U.S.A.)
New Guatemalan AF team
The Guatemalan Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Guatemalteca) has just re-formed an aerobatic team (name as yet undecided) mounted on the new ENAER (Chilean built) T-35 Pillan's they recently received. First appearance was apparently on December 11th 1998 at their Air Force Day celebration.
More details as we get them.....
(January 1999 : Report by SIG member Tom Kolk, U.S.A.)
Thunderbirds European Tour 1999
The USAF Thunderbirds have announced their 1999 schedule, and it includes a short European Tour.
No other details are given, but it is confirmed that they will be making an appearance at the Mildenhall Air Fete '99 - but on Saturday 29th May only.
Northern Lights back to full strength
The Northern Lights Aerobatic Team have announced that pilot Mike Mancuso, who was injured when he crashed during a practice session at Easter 1998, will rejoin the team for the 1999 season. (See previous report "Northern Lights crash" below.)
According to team leader Andre Lortie, 28-year-old Mancuso, who hails from Long Island, N.Y., will fly an Extra 300 in the number 4 position.
Taking over the in the number 5 position for 1999 will be a new addition to the team, Azat Zaydullin of Kiev, Ukraine. He is a world class Unlimited-level aerobatics competitor, as well as an ATP pilot and CFI.
(December 1998 : Report by SIG member John Cooper, U.S.A.)
Snowbird Number 2, Capt. Mike Vandenbos, was tragically killed following a mid-air collision during a training flight on 10th December 1998.
Although Capt. Vandenbos successfully ejected from his Tutor aircraft before it crashed, it appears that there was not enough time for his parachute to fully deploy and he was killed on impact with the ground.
The incident has been very tough on the team, but they have picked themselves up and carried on with their training. Our sympathies go out to the family of Capt. Vandenbos, and to all the Snowbirds.
(December 1998 : Thanks to SIG members Tom Kolk and Tony Edmundson for the info.)
Red Arrows crash
On Thursday 17th October 1998, Red Arrows Hawk T1A (XX252) crashed landed short of the runway at RAF Cranwell, returning from a practice flight.
The aircraft was flown by Flt. Lt. Dick Edwards, 'Red 2', and everything appeared to be going normally, as he turned in behind the Leader for landing on Cranwell's Runway 27. However, the Hawk apparantly touched down on grass just inside the airfield boundary, and the pilot ejected. The aircraft slid to a halt adjacent to the runway threshold.
Flt Lt. Edwards was unhurt and was able to walk to an ambulance. Due to the crash debris and the ejector seat and parachute landing on the runway, the airfield was closed for several hours, with all aircraft being diverted to RAF Waddington.
The cause of the incident is now subject to a board of enquiry.
(Reported in Aircraft Illustrated Jan '99, and thanks to SIG member Phil Adams for the initial info.)
We win at the IPMS(UK) Nationals !
We are very proud that our display at the 1998 IPMS(UK) National Championships Show won the award for the "Best S.I.G. Display".
The '98 Nationals were successfully held over 24th & 25th October in the new venue of the Telford International Centre, Shropshire, England. Thanks go to all our members who attended and brought models for the display, and to all our other members around the world for their enthusiasm and support for our activities. Special thanks to the Blue Angels themselves, and to the San Diego Aerospace Museum.
Photos of our display stand are posted on this web site in the "Picture Gallery" section. We hope you like it !
August 1st team crash
The recently-formed August 1st Aerobatic Team of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) suffered the loss of three of their aircraft in a mid-air collision near Tianjin sometime in June. As they tried to reform in line abreast during a loop, three aircraft collided, resulting in the death of the three pilots.
This tragic loss must surely cast doubt over the future of this 'young' team, who only gave their first performance in December 1997.
(Report by SIG member Phil Adams, in Germany.)
Red Baron Stearman Squadron to fly again
US-based SIG member John Cooper spoke to one of the pilots of this team during early October '98, when they had two of their aircraft on static display as part of a promotion for a new pizza product. After their tragic, and very public, mid-air collision which resulted in the death of two of their four pilots back in April '98, the team is definately being re-built to tour again in 1999. Two of the 'extra' pilots that fly around giving incentive rides to distributors/retailers, etc., have been selected to join the display team. They are planning to start formation practice on 1st November in preparation for the 1999 display season.
What's happened to the Asas de Portugal......??
It was reported earlier in 1998 (see "Asas de Portugal Reforming", lower down) that the Portuguese AF were reforming the Asas de Portugal on Alpha Jets, and that the team were due to make their comeback appearance at the Ovar Airshow in Portugal on 27th & 28th June 1998.
Well, I have been kindly informed by Mr. Rui Silva, of Oporto, Portugal, that the Asas de Portugal did NOT make an appearance after all. In attendence at the airshow were Patrulla Aguila, Patrouille Suisse, Frecce Tricolori and the Patrouille de France, but no mention was made of the Asas de Portugal.
Does anyone out there reading this have any further news on the future for the Asas de Portugal..... ? If so, please drop me an email.
Red Arrows birdstrike
One of the RAF Red Arrows Hawk aircraft made a belly landing at RAF Brize Norton sometime during the week commencing 13th July 1998. The pilot was Flt. Lt. Dave Stobie, who is Red 6, this year's Syncro Lead.
All nine aircraft took off from Brize Norton in three groups of three. At approximately 100 feet altitude and just after the undercarriage had been retracted, one of the aircraft (serial number unknown) ingested a pigeon straight down the intake, and made a belly landing back on the runway. The pilot and ground crewman (who was riding in the rear seat) were both OK, but shaken. As a result, the runway at Brize Norton was closed for a few hours while the aircraft was recovered. The impact was cushioned by the smoke oil / dye tank which the Red Arrows have fitted on the centreline (belly) hardpoint of their Hawks, so damage was relatively minor.
Ukrainian Falcons on hold.....
Following the death of their team leader in a crash in March (see other story, below) the Ukrainian Falcons have disbanded, for the 1998 season at least.
It was hoped that the team would be able to continue with a new leader in order to appear at the 1998 Royal IAT at Fairford, but this has not been possible. However, it is hoped that the team will be operational again next year.
(Reported in Aircraft Illustrated Magazine, July 1998.)
..... And Elang Biru also
The Indonesian A.F. F-16 - equipped Elang Biru team have also stood down due to the current crisis in Indonesia.
(Reported in Aircraft Illustrated Magazine, July 1998.)
Midnight Hawks Official Badge
Finland's Midnight Hawks team have finally designed themselves an official badge. Although it has been produced in the form of an embroided patch for the team members to wear, it is not yet known whether this emblem will actually appear on their Hawk aircraft.
Thanks to Perttu Karivalo for supplying the graphic.
ROKAF Black Eagles Crash
Reported in the July issue of AFM is an accident which occured on May 8th 1998, in which two Cessna A-37B's of the Black Eagles suffered a mid-air collision. One aircraft crashed killing the team leader, Major Won-Hoon Cho. The other aircraft involved is thought to have landed safely.
Northern Lights crash
Mike Mancuso, the newest member of the Canadian civilian Northern Lights team, was seriously injured while practicing aerobatics by himself while preparing for the 1998 season. Not many details are available, but reportedly he crash landed in a field, destroying the Extra 300 aircraft. Mike was initially admitted to intensive care, but was improving quickly, and expected to to make a full recovery.
(Report by SIG member John Cooper, U.S.A.)
Ukrainian Falcons accident
On 26th March 1998, a MiG-29 from the Ukrainian Falcons crashed on landing at Kirovskye Air Base, in the eastern Crimean Peninsula. The pilot, Colonel Sergei Dudkin, was severly injured and died later in hospital. Col. Dudkin was Deputy Commander of the base and Leader of the Ukrainian Falcons team.
The team had been on a training flight in preparation for an airshow in France during May, and Col. Dudkin's aircraft was on it's third attempt at landing, due to extremely poor weather conditions.
(Reported in Air Forces Monthly Magazine, June 1998.)
August 1st Aerobatic Team
The June 1998 issue of Air Forces Monthly magazine features an article on this new aerobatic team from China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). They are equipped with six Chengdu F-7EB jet fighters, which are the latest PLAAF variant of the MiG-21F, and painted in a smart red and white colour scheme. The aircraft are also equipped to make smoke. It was originally planned to mount the team on the Shenyang F-8II, but the more manoeuvrable F-7EB was chosen at the end of 1997.
Their first public appearance was on 20th December 1997, at Tianjin, and they are scheduled to give more than 20 displays throughout China during 1998, including the China Air Show at Zhuhai in November.
(Information about AFM Magazine can be found on Key Publishing's web site at http://www.keymags.co.uk/)
Red Baron Stearman Squadron tragedy
On Sunday afternoon, April 19th 1998, two members of the Red Baron Stearman Squadron, the U.S.-based civilian aerobatic team were killed when their Stearman biplanes had a mid-air collision during an air show performance in Florida.
The four-aircraft team was apparantly flying in a diamond formation when the slot aircraft slid into one of the wingmen and the two aircraft became tangled together. The two aircraft remained together until they struck the ground.
Following are newspaper reports passed on by S.I.G. member Tom Kolk :-
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Two single-engine biplanes that
collided while attempting acrobatic maneuvers during an air show tumbled out of
the sky and crashed in front of thousands of spectators. Both pilots were
killed and two police officers suffered minor injuries when they tried to pull
the pilots from the burning wreckage on Sunday, said Deputy Police Chief Ren
KISSIMMEE, Fla., April 19 (Reuters) - Two planes flying above a crowd of 5,000 people collided at a Florida air show Sunday, killing the two stunt pilots, police said. The two biplanes from the Red Baron Flying Group collided about 1,500 feet above the crowd at the Kissimmee Air Show of the Stars, said a Kissimmee police spokeswoman. No one on the ground was hurt. ``It was hard to see what happened,'' said witness Rod Carver. ``Nothing seemed to be wrong with the planes, but there was a lot of wind. They were doing some loops and then they all came together. I don't know how close they were to each other.'' The Kissimmee Airport reported wind gusts of 30 mph during the show, which was in its second day at the municipal airport. The planes fell together away from the crowd, Carver said, and burned down to their frames on the ground. The pilots were pronounced dead at the scene of the 11:30 a.m. (1530 GMT) crash, police said.
Further details may now be found in an official statement on the Red Baron Stearman Squadron web page.
Esquadrilha da Fumaca '98 European Tour cancelled
The Brazillian A.F. team were advertised to be undertaking a two-month European Tour this summer, taking in Portugal, Belgium, France and Germany, culminating in their first-ever appearance in England at the Royal I.A.T., Fairford.
However, although this news featured in some aviation magazines, it has been revealed that their tour has been scrapped due to cost reasons. The news came just a day after the Royal IAT had issued press releases confirming the teams attendance. It would obviously have been a very expensive operation, as the team's eight Tucanos would have to be dismantled and shipped to Europe in crates, which would have taken the Brazilian Air Force's entire fleet of Hercules transport aircraft to achieve this. The only glimmer of hope now for UK-airshow fans is that the Royal IAT had still not received written confirmation from the Brazilian authorities of the cancellation, so there remains the faintest of hopes that they might still attend........
Snowbirds Tutors stress problems - update
Following the report in these pages a few months ago (see "Snowbirds getting stressed out" below), the six Tutors which had been identified as being overstressed have been dealt with. All of the overstressing was in the aft section of the aircraft: Three of the Tutors have been retired, with three different ones being assigned to the team in their place: The other three have been fitted with new (used) aft sections and returned to the team. All the work and re-painting had been carried out by mid-April 1998.
Asas de Portugal reforming
It has been reported that the Portuguese Air Force aerobatic team, the Asas de Portugal, are re-forming on Alpha Jets from Esquadra 103, based at Beja.
The team will be led by their former C.O. from when they flew Cessna T-37C's. The new team colour scheme is expected to be applied to six or seven Alpha Jets, which are currently being overhauled, ready for their proposed first appearance at the Ovar Airshow, Portugal, on 27/28 June 1998.
The Swallows disband... again...
It has been announced that the Belgian Air Force's Swallows display team, flying a pair of Siai-Marchetti SF-260M trainers, has been disbanded. The team were first around on the airshow circuit in the mid-1980's, after which they spent several years of inactivity. They were reformed again about three years ago, this time with their aircraft painted in an impressive special colour scheme of all-over blue with black, yellow and red trim.
It seems that the reason for their disbanding again is that the two most recent pilots have been posted to operational units, and no other aircrew have volunteered to replace them.
The Flying Stars are flying again !
The Yugoslav Air Force's display team, the Flying Stars (Letece Zvezde) are back in action again following the war in the former Yugoslavia. The team has been out of operation for almost exactly six years, since the break up of Yugoslavia began in June 1991. When hostilities came to an end in November 1995, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was less than one third of it's original size, and as part of the Peace Accord, it was required to reduce the number of aircraft in it's inventory. Then, in December 1996, the Air Force's Commander-in-Chief gave the authorisation for the Flying Stars to reform "as a symbol of the new era", to restore the profile of the Air Force at home and abroad.
The team has started out with a six-aircraft display routine, lasting 20 minutes, and contains two pilots (one of whom is the new Leader) of the 'original' 1990 team. As before, they are flying the indiginous Soko G-4 Super Galeb jet trainer, in a red/white/blue colour scheme very similar, although not identical, to their 'original' one. The new team made their first public performance on 15th June 1997 at Batajnica Air Show, and their first overseas performance in Bulgaria on 27th & 28th September 1997.
New pilots are being selected for the 1998 display season,as the team intend to have a seven aircraft show - 4 + 2 + 1, and would like to perform at more overseas airshows.
A full report and photographs of the new team can be found in the January 1998 issue of Air Forces Monthly magazine.
Team 60 gearing up for 1998
The Swedish Air Force's Team 60 display team are preparing for their 1998 display season after taking the year off in 1997 while all the Saab SK-60's in the Swedish A.F.'s inventory were being re-engined.
They will reappear in April as a group of four, and hope to have the display routine ready for the summer season. They have received many requests to perform at airshows, not least from Britain, so everyone is hoping that their preparations all go to schedule
Snowbirds getting stressed out !
News from Canada is that National Defence HQ engineers determined that six of the Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor aircraft were stressed beyond their limit because of previous manouevres in the solo role. So, in mid-December '97, the team lost these six aircraft, and six more standard school Tutors will be modified and delivered before the season starts in May. At this point, the team are training with these ex-school aircraft in their standard silver markings, but with the team's red & white smoke tanks slung underneath, for formation references.
Team 60=Grupp 60 ......
The special display team put together by the Swedish Air Force for SAAB's 60th anniversary on September 7th 1997, was not officially Team 60 after all. The four-ship team of SAAB 105 aircraft was called Grupp 60 instead, as Team 60are inactive this year due to the Swedish Air Force's SAAB 105's being re-engined. Team members for this one-off performance were Lars Martinsson, Tomas Johansson, Urban Bladh and were led by P-O Olsson. Major Bladh is due to take over leadership of Team 60 with their re-engined RR-Williams SAAB 105 (SK 60) next year. This display is expected to be the very last team performance with SAAB 105's equipped with the Turbomeca Abisque engine.
Russian Knights ... incident .......(!)
On June 21st 1997, one of the Russian Knights Su-27 Flankers belly-landed after the pilot had allegedly forgotten to lower his undercarriage !
The incident occurred in Bratislava, Slovakia, as the team arrived to take part in the SIAD '97 airshow. The four-ship formation had performed a display at Zeltweg in Austria that morning, and then flew on to Bratislava, arriving there at about 3pm. After a few arrival manoeuvres, the team broke for individual landings. The first two Flankers landed normally, but the pilot of the third (Flanker 15) apparantly forgot to lower his undercarriage ! The aircraft touched down on the runway and skidded along on it's nose and ventral fins, creating a shower of sparks as it went. The pilot deployed the braking parachute and the Flanker came to a halt about half way along the runway. The remaining, still-airborne pilot verified the amount of runway available before landing safely.
It seems that it then took about three hours to jack the stricken aircraft up and lower it's undercarriage, before it could be towed away for repairs, which meant that the remainder of the Saturday airshow was limited to helicopter displays, due to the runway blockage. The Sunday show went on as normal, with the Russian Knights performing a three-ship routine.
There was apparantly very little damage to the Flanker after this incident, and it was able to be flown back to Russia two days later.
Thunder Tigers accident
The Chinese Thunder Tigers team suffered a tragedy on 27th June 1997, whilst on a five-ship practice flight from their base at Tapel/Kang-Shan airbase. During a four-point roll, one of the team's AT-3 jet trainers (serial 76-6033) crashed, killing pilot Sqn Ldr. Hsu Hai-Hua. Cause of the crash was not immediately known, although mechanical failure is thought to be a possibility.
Silver Swallows 1997 performances - the last.....
The Irish Silver Swallows team were re-activated for 1997, for the Irish Air Corps 75th Anniversary. The team of four Fouga Magisters displayed in airshows at RAFA Woodford, Fairford RIAT and RAF Leuchars in the UK, as well as various 'domestic' engagements in Ireland, for the 75th Anniversary celebrations. They were due to fly their last official display at Florennes in Belgium, but this, and all other air events in Belgium, was cancelled in the aftermath of the Royal Jordanian Falcons crash at Ostend, so as far as I know, their last official show was at Leuchars.
It seems that this really will be the last time we see this team, certainly in their Fouga Magisters anyway. A couple of the aircraft are due to reach the end of their fatigue life in November 1997, and will be forced to be grounded. The entire strength of Fouga Magisters in the Irish Air Corps numbers only six, with the remaining aircraft due to reach the end of their life during 1998.
Royal Jordanian Falcons airshow tragedy
The Royal Jordanian Falcons solo aircraft crashed into the crowd during the team's performance at the Flanders Fly-in and Airshow at Ostend, Belgium, at about 5 pm local time, on Saturday 26th July. Initially, eight people were killed (including the pilot) and 40 - 50 others were injured. A ninth person died in hospital the next day.
The pilot, who has been named as Captain Omar Hani Bilal, was a highly-experienced aerobatic pilot and had been with the team for a number of years. Eye-witness reports vary, but initially included claims that the Extra 300 aircraft appeared to suffer a loss of power or was caught by a gust of wind. Other reports say that the pilot simply appeared to lose control, although this would be a natural conclusion to jump to for any who are not fully aware of the nature of some of the violent "flick" or tail-sliding manoeuvres incorporated into the Royal Jordanian Falcons solo routine. What is not known at this stage, is just why the aircraft appeared to be performing over the spectator area, off the official display line, which is strictly against European airshow safety regulations.
It seems that the pilot was performing one of the "lomcevak", or "tumbling" - type manoeuvres which (to those of us "in the know",) the team, and indeed the Extra 300 aircraft, is famous for, and for whatever reason, failed to recover from it. The aircraft apparently struck the ground near to a spectator enclosure and First Aid tent, immediately exploding and showering spectators with debris and burning kerosene. A fleet of ambulances and military helicopters ferried the wounded to hospitals as far away as Brussels, and others were being treated at special burns units at hospitals in the Flanders region.
The pilot's body was flown back to Jordan on a Jordanian A.F. Hercules on Sunday 27th July, following a short ceremony on the tarmac.
The airshow was to have been a two day event, but the Sunday show was cancelled and an immediate inquiry set up. Further details will be posted as they are available.
This was the blackest day in airshow history since Ramstein in August 1988, when about seventy people died when three of the Frecce Tricolori collided in mid-air and crashed into the crowd.
Patrouille Adecco lose an aircraft
This French civilian team (previously known as Patrouille Ecco) are continuing their 1997 season with only three aircraft, as one was lost in a crash in France in early/mid-June, thankfully without loss of life. No more details are known at this time.
Finland's "Hawk Team" finally get official name
The Finnish Air Force Academy's team of four BAe Hawk mk.51's (widely and incorrectly known as Jasska 4) have at last got an official name. To put a stop to any confusion, the team have now adopted the name Midnight Hawks.
This is derived from the fact that the team flies each year in the "Midnight Summer Airshow" at their home base, Kauhava. They are probably the only team in the world to fly displays around midnight every summer !
Team 60 take year off
Sweden's Team 60 are effectively taking 1997 off from display flying, as their SAAB SK60 aircraft are being re-engined. The new engines are Williams/Rolls-Royce units, with more power and more economy. This makes the SK60 a "new" aircraft, and so the pilots have to be 'converted' as the work is completed. The team have therefore decided to use the time that they have with their aircraft to work up and train new pilots for their 1998 season.
New Indian Air Force Team
The Indian Air Force have formed a new team as a replacement for the now-retired Hunter-equipped team, the Thunderbolts. This new team, called Surya Kiran, fly their display with seven HAL Kiran mk. II jet trainers painted up in an all-over red & white colour scheme, although it appears they have a total of eleven aircraft assigned to them. They apparently made their debut at the Aero India '96 show, Bangalore, from 3rd - 7th December 1996, led by W/C Malik, himself a former Thunderbolts pilot.
Serial numbers of their Kirans are as follows : U2460, U2466, U2467, U2469, U2470, U2472, U2480, U2481, U2492, U2507, U2510.
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