In only a few short weeks, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, under the command of Sugar Land native Lt. Col. Jason Heard, will return to Houston, Texas for the 33rd Annual Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Wings Over Houston Air Show. The air show will take place over the weekend of October 21st/22nd, at Ellington Airport. Visitors also are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for donation to the Houston Food Bank as they continue to provide disaster relief to people affected by Hurricane Harvey.
To buy tickets in advance for the 2017 CAF Wings Over Houston Airshow, please visit the airshow’s website, www.wingsoverhouston.com, or call 888-4-FLYSHOW. On air show performance days, general admission tickets will be on sale at the gate. Once inside the gates, attendees are welcome to visit the reserved areas to purchase upgraded seating if it is still available.
Produced by the Commemorative Air Force, the non-profit air show will feature a dramatic Vietnam War Tribute, with flying demonstrations by an F-4 Phantom II, F-100 Super Sabre, MiG-17, Huey Cobra, and other period aircraft. A B-25 Mitchell will perform a flyby at the air show to recognize the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid in World War II and honor the last living Raider, Lt. Col. Dick Cole, who just celebrated his 102nd birthday! Visitors will also get a chance to meet Lt.Col. Cole in the Legends and Heroes Autograph Tent. The show will also recognize the U.S. Coast Guard for their heroic rescues following Hurricane Harvey and include a demonstration of the Dolphin MH65D helicopter.
“Despite Hurricane Harvey and all of the challenges facing our area, our show will go on exactly as planned. We’ve been a Houston family tradition for 33 years, and in times like this, our show is a real boost for all us,” said air show Director Bill Roach. “The amazing U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds return under the direction of one of our own, native Lt. Col. Jason Heard from Sugar Land. We will have several new performers, a lot of our fan favorites, and some really fun ground activities including exotic cars and motorcycles. Of course, we also feature one of the largest assemblies of vintage aircraft of any show in the country.”
In addition to the Thunderbirds, modern military aircraft performances will include a roaring show kick-off from a 138th Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon based with the Oklahoma Air National Guard in Tulsa. The U.S. Navy will present a tactical demonstration of the F/A-18 Super Hornet with an example from VFA-122.
Aerobatic pilots Elias Corey with Suzuki Air Shows and Michael Wiskus of Lucas Oil Airshows will both make their Wings Over Houston debuts, while fan-favorite and world aerobatic champion Debbie Rihn-Harvey also will perform.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force, the always popular U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight will feature a World War II-era P-47 Thunderbolt and its newer namesake, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, aka the “Warthog”. Also flying together in an air show for the first time, will be a replica Messerschmitt Me-262, the world’s first production jet fighter, and another famed first generation jet fighter, a British de Havilland DH-115 Vampire. Randy Ball returns to pilot the MiG-17 in a solo demonstration, and will fly in the Vietnam War Tribute.
Ace pilots, distinguished military veterans, and a record-holding astronaut will meet fans in the Legends & Heroes Autograph Tent. Honored guests, to name a few, will include Lt. Col. Dick Cole, Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson, Col. Dean Caswell, Col. Joe McPhail, Capt. Royce Williams, Brig. Gen. Steve Ritchie, Major Terry Pappas, and Col. Jerry Ross.
Other spectacular performances and activities will include:
- The Vietnam War Tribute will include F-4 Phantom II, F-100 Super Sabre, MiG-17, A-4 Skyhawk, Huey Cobra, and Skyraider 02 as well as ground action by re-enactors from the 6th Cavalry of the National U.S. Forces Museum and others.
- Vintage aircraft performing and on display from various units of the Commemorative Air Force, Lone Star Flight Museum, Vietnam War Flight Museum, Lewis Collection, Cavanaugh Flight Museum and Collings Foundation. To see all most of these aircraft up close and on the ground, arrive at 8 a.m. and go straight to the warbird ramp. The area is always open until 10 a.m. but often stays open as late as 10:30 or 11 a.m. depending on show scheduling.
- A large assembly of modern and vintage military aircraft will be on static display all day, including the specialized EA-18G Growler, reliable B-52 Stratofortress, the massive C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane, the multi-role F-16C Fighting Falcon, the impressive AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, the huge U.S. Coast Guard HC-130H search and rescue plane – and more.
- The RE/MAX Skydiving Team will open our show, bringing the American and Texas flags to the crowd during the National Anthem.
- Precision Exotics is bringing a collection of exotic vehicles to the tarmac for an exciting fan experience.
- Aerobatic pilot Elias Corey – Suzuki Airshows includes not only his aerobatic performance, but also an amazing fan experience featuring Suzuki’s full range of motorcycles.
- The custom-built Shockwave Jet Truck, powered by three massive J34-48 Pratt & Whitney jet engines, will scream down the runway at chilling speeds.
- Before the airshow starts, Texas City Radio Control Club will demonstrate scale model radio-controlled aircraft that will amaze you with their capabilities.
- Members of reenactment and historical organizations set up camp, complete with authentic military vehicles, equipment and uniforms.
- More fun on the ground for everyone includes plenty of food, merchandise booths, children’s carnival area, aircraft simulators and more. Come early to do it all!
Visit the show’s website, www.wingsoverhouston.com, for tickets, latest updates and advisories, transportation and parking information, and advice on what to wear and bring.