USAF Thunderbirds

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Pride, professionalism, dedication: the hallmarks of the Unites States Air Force which was founded 70 years ago in 1947 as a separate branch of the armed forces based on the successes of air power during WWII. The men and women serving in “Air Force blue” take those three words to heart daily as they fulfill the USAF’s straightforward mission “to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace.”

In commemoration of the founding of the U.S. Air Force 70 years ago in 1947, the Pikes Peak Regional Air Show is proud to host the USAF Thunderbirds at the Colorado Springs Airport.

USAF Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon

The F-16 is a single-engine, highly maneuverable, supersonic, multi-role tactical fighter, performing various missions. The Falcon’s design capability of handling 9-g maneuvers is critical to the demonstrations flown by the Thunderbirds.

The F-16 is the Thunderbird’s ninth aircraft since the elite group’s founding in 1953.

 

USAF Wings of Blue
 
Demonstration, competition, instruction are central to achieving the mission of the USAF’s Wings of Blue, whose primary mission is to run the Basic Freefall Parachuting course at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Members of the team are jumpmasters and instructors for this course, devoting most of their time to teaching students about parachuting, and training them to make unassisted freefall skydives. Each year, more than 700 USAF Cadets are given the opportunity to earn their jump wings.

 



The Wings of Blue has both a demonstration team and a competition team. The demonstration team travels across the country to air shows, sporting events, and other venues to represent the Air Force in precision parachuting. Similarly, the competition team represents the Air Force by competing with teams from around the country.
 
Heritage Flight
 
The Heritage Flight is a salute to those who have gone before, but left a mark of service and honor to be remembered though the generations.

The Pikes Peak Regional Air Show Heritage Flight for 2017 features two remarkable aircraft, the P-38 Lightning and the A-10 Thunderbolt II, honoring one man whose dedication to his pilots and the nation serves as inspiration for all, Col. Francis “Frank” Royal (USAF).
 
Trojan Phlyers dual T28 Aerobatics
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Trojan Phlyers, Inc. is dedicated to preserving the rich history of the North American Aviation Company’s T28 Trojan. Based in Texas, Trojan Phlyers owns and operates two T28B Trojan aircraft. The pilots of Trojan Phlyers perform formation and solo aerobatics, and appear each year at air shows and events across the nation.
 
Dracula
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The immortal monster of dreams and nightmares takes the form of a new biplane and a thrilling air show act. The tapering fuselage, speed ring cowling surrounding the engine, and sloped windshield bring back key features of the racing bi-planes of the 1930’s. But the modern prop, aerodynamics, and onboard systems are fully 21st century, resulting in a smaller, lighter, significantly more maneuverable and powerful airplane.
The nearly full-span ailerons give the Dracula Demon a roll rate more than 300 degrees per second and the two-color smoke system was custom made for the vampire theme of this act.

 

P-40K Warhawk Aerobatics

 

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First flown in 1938, the P-40 was conceived as a pursuit aircraft and was agile at low and medium altitudes, but the lack of a two-speed supercharger made it inferior in high-altitude combat. However, between 1941 and 1944, the P-40 played a critical role with Allied air forces in three major theaters: North Africa, the Southwest Pacific, and China and had a significant role in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Alaska and Italy.

It was in Asia that the P-40 achieved fame as the tough and dependable workhorse of the “Flying Tigers”. The Texas Flying Legends’ P-40K is painted to commemorate the “Aleutian Tigers” who fought to protect the islands in close proximity to Alaska.

 

Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX Aerobatics

 

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This memorable and important British fighter flew missions over many a bedroom of American youngsters building model aircraft. The Supermarine Spitfire earned accolades for its role with the Royal Air Force in protecting England from the numerous Nazi airstrikes during the Battle of Britain.

This Spitfire MkIX flew 60 missions during the war, from May 1944 until the end of combat in the European Theater.

 

 North American B-25 Mitchell

 

Nearly 10,000 of these twin-engine medium bombers were built by the end of WWII, and the B-25 saw action in every theater of the war, serving as a medium-altitude bomber, low-level ground attack aircraft, and mast-level attack aircraft against ships. The majority of action for the B-25 was in the Pacific Theater.

 

 
 “Due to constantly trying to improve our air show presentation and unforeseeable personnel / equipment scheduling conflicts this air show performer schedule can change at any time.
 
 
 
Douglas AD5 Skyraider
A late arriving aircraft in WWII (the Navy began flight tests in April 1945), the Douglas Skyraider was the workhorse for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in the Korean Conflict, and participated in the first U.S. aircraft carrier strikes against North Vietnam in 1964 in Operation Pierce Arrow.
 
Grumman TBM Avenger
The Avenger in the Pikes Peak Regional Air Show was built by General Motors under contract to Grumman Aviation, so it carries the “TBM” designation, rather than the “TBF” designation for those aircraft built by Grumman.

The Avenger torpedo bomber entered U.S. service in 1942 and saw its first combat action at the Battle of Midway. It remained in use long after WWII. Its unique compound-angle wing-folding mechanism resulted in minimal storage space despite the Avenger’s significant size.
 
Consolidated PBY Catalina Patrol Bomber
The PBY features a “parasol” wing, mounted on a pylon over the fuselage and twin waste blisters at the rear of the aircraft to enhance observation for air-sea rescues and submarine detection. The fuselage is part boat, with a stepped “hull”.

The “Cat” saw duty in the Atlantic and the Pacific attacking Axis submarines, and as a patrol bomber early in the war. As a search-and-rescue aircraft, the Catalina was unsurpassed. A PBY rescued 56 sailors after the USS Indianapolis sank. When there was no more room in the fuselage, sailors were tied to the wings. The Catalina served as a rescue boat, protecting the sailors from shark attacks until help arrived.
 
Republic P-47D-40 Thunderbolt
Durable beyond its peers, able to carry bombs which it unloaded on targets AFTER escorting its bombers to the primary target, capable of carrying a remarkable assortment of armament: the P-47D is today recognized as a hallmark of design and construction. Close in ground support, attacking trains, tanks and troops, and the ability to dogfight as needed; Thunderbolt pilots reported destroying 86,000 railroad cars, 9,000 locomotives, 6,000 armored fighting vehicles, and 68,000 trucks.
 
North American P-51 Mustang
The icon of fighters from WWII, the early P-51 was less than effective at high altitudes in its first iterations. With the advent of nearly 24 hour bombing of Germany, the bombers making daylight raids needed fighter escorts that could protect the bombers from the beginning of missions, over enemy targets, and on the trip back to base.

When the P-51 was refitted with two-stage supercharged engines, they became the formidable fighters that are broadly remembered today.
 
Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair
The Corsair’s early issues with landing successfully on aircraft carriers caused this powerful and beautiful fighter to be adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps as their primary land based fighter. Once the landing issues were resolved, the Corsair was successfully used as a carrier-based fighter-bomber during WWII.

The Corsair saw extensive action in the Korean Conflict and Corsairs were used long after the end of WWII by other nations.
 
Grumman F4F Wildcat
The only effective Navy fighter early in the war, the F4F Wildcat was out performed by the Japanese Zero. Creative air-to-air combat techniques and training turned the advantage to the Wildcat when in multiple-aircraft dogfights.
The Wildcat’s rugged construction and America’s better-trained pilots kept the advantage, with a reported kill ratio of nearly 7 enemy aircraft shot down for each Wildcat.
 
Grumman F3F-2 Flying Barrel
The first production F3F Flying Barrel was delivered to the U.S. Navy in 1936 and the diminutive aircraft was retired from squadron service in 1941.

Compare this beautifully restored Flying Barrel with the F7F Tigercat, another Grumman aircraft. Though just a few years separate these warbirds, they are worlds apart in technical sophistication, performance, safety, and firepower.
 
Grumman F7F Tigercat
The Grumman F7F Tigercat is a heavy fighter aircraft that served with the United States Navy (USN) and United States Marine Corps (USMC) from late in World War II until 1954. It was the first twin-engined fighterto be deployed by the USN. While the Tigercat was delivered too late to see combat in World War II, it saw action as a night fighter and attack aircraft during the Korean War.
Designed initially for service on Midway-class aircraft carriers, early production F7Fs were land-based variants. The type was too large to operate from older and smaller carriers, and only a late variant (F7F-4N) was certified for carrier service.

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."

Leonardo Da Vinci

"Never fly the A model of anything."

World War II Pilot Officer Edward Thompson of 433 (RCAF) Squadron

"Air power is like poker. A second-best hand is like none at all - it will cost you dough and win you nothing."

General George Kenney, Commander of Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific, 1942-45

"Pershing won [WWI] without even looking into an airplane, let alone going up in one. If they had been of such importance he'd have tried at least a ride. . . "

John Wingate Weeks, U.S. Secretary of War, 1921