If you have attended an air show in the USA any time in the past couple of decades, the chances are pretty high that you witnessed a formation flight featuring both civilian-owned warbirds and active duty examples of modern U.S. Air Force combat jets. These ‘Heritage Flights’ started taking place officially in the buildup to the USAF 50th Anniversary celebrations in 1997, and they proved to be extremely popular with the public. As a result, these performances continued in subsequent years, with literally hundreds of appearances having now taken place across the country. Despite the seemingly effortless manner in which these aircraft arc gracefully across the sky, it requires tremendous skill to place aircraft with such dramatically different performance characteristics in such tight formations; it also requires a lot of practice. Only a handful of pilots, both active military and civilian, are approved to take part in these formations, and each year they get together before the air show season begins to work up their routines and practice them in flight. The 2020 training clinic, officially known as the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course, took place over this past weekend, hosted by Air Combat Command at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Indeed Davis-Monthan AFB has held these aerial demonstration training events every year since 2001. The Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation nonprofit organization helps to fund the civilian participation in these air show collaborations. This year’s warbird participants included:
- NAA P-51D Mustang 44-73029 Bald Eagle – owner Jim Beasley
- NAA P-51D Mustang 44-73420 – Andrew McKenna
- NAA P-51D Mustang ‘44-84961′ Wee Willie II – Planes of Fame Air Museum
- NAA TF-51D Mustang 67-14866 Bum Steer – Comanche Fighters
- NAA P-51D Mustang 44-12852 Frenesi – Commanche Fighters
- Curtiss P-40N Warhawk 44-7369 – Cavanaugh Flight Museum
- Lockheed P-38M Lightning 44-53095 Thoughts of Midnite – Commanche Fighters
- Republic P-47G Thunderbolt 42-25068 Snafu – Commanche Fighters
- NAA F-86F Sabre 52-5012 Jolley Roger – Planes of Fame Air Museum
- Canadair Sabre 6 RCAF 23671 HELL-ER BUST X – Commanche Fighters
Keith Charlot was on hand to capture some images for us, and we really appreciate his efforts! We also heard from one of the participating pilots, Andrew McKenna…
Andrew McKenna told Warbird Digest: “The Heritage Flight is a program that exists to support the past, present and future of the USAF. All of the civilian members of the foundation are honored to be a very small part of the support network for the USAF and help recruit and retain the next generation of Airman.”
Air Combat Command aircraft that participated in the recent Heritage Flight training regimen included the F-35 Lightning II, F-22 Raptor and F-16 Fighting Falcon. The A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team, based at Davis-Monthan, also took part.
For more information about the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation click HERE.