Eight airshows kick off the Traverse City National Cherry Festival
By Ross Boissoneau | June 22, 2019
Eight — count ’em, eight — different airshows will take to the skies over West Bay as the 2019 National Cherry Festival takes flight. The shows take place beginning at 1pm both Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, and run till 4pm, with no letup. Headlining the show will be the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
Airshow Director Steve Plamondon said the festival is lucky to have the Thunderbirds; originally, the group was booked elsewhere for this weekend. “But they had a cancellation, so they reached out to us,” he said.
Plamondon said another part of the show he’s grateful to have booked is the AV-8B II+ Harrier Demonstration. “That’s one I feel very fortunate about. The Harrier is only performing at three shows all year,” he said. Here’s what you’ll see:
USAF Thunderbirds (pictured)
A Thunderbirds air demonstration is a mix of formation flying and solo routines — approximately 40 different maneuvers in all. The four-jet diamond formation demonstrates the training and precision of Air Force pilots, while the lead and opposing solo aircraft highlight some of the maximum capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The Thunderbirds squadron is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and more than 100 enlisted personnel performing in almost 30 job specialties. Plamondon said the Thunderbirds will be featured for the entire last hour of the show.
Matt Younkin, who comes from a family tradition of flying, will put his Beech 18 to the test in a series of rolls and other maneuvers. (Read more about Matt Younkin here.)
Redline Air Shows
Redline is a formation aerobatic flight team which flies Van’s RV-8s. These are two-seat, tandem aircraft. The planes are extremely versatile, capable of speeds up to 230 miles per hour, yet can land short as slow as 50 miles per hour. The shows feature opposing, inverted and formation maneuvers.
F22 Raptor Demonstration Team
The Air Combat Command F-22 Demonstration Team out of Langley Air Force Base performs precision aerial maneuvers to demonstrate the unique capabilities and super-maneuverability of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft. These demonstrations include the power loop, split, and tail slide, as well as a high speed pass and dedication pass. They are based on procedures designed for combat operations, but are performed at much lower altitudes than most pilots are certified to fly at.
F18 Super Hornet Demonstration
The Tactical Demonstration, or “Tac Demo” team flies the single-seat F/A-18E and two-seat F/A-18F as close to the "edge of the envelope" as safety allows The routine highlights the Rhino's maneuverability and slow-speed handling characteristics.The US Navy's Tac Demo Teams are made up of actual Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) instructors flying the same jets used to train new students.In addition to high-performance demonstrations with a single aircraft, VFA-122 also participates in Legacy shows in which Super Hornets fly in formation with classic warbirds like the F-4U Corsair and F6F Hellcat. Legacy shows provide a unique comparison between the past and present.
AV-8B II+ Harrier Demonstration
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a helicopter! No, it’s the AV-8B Harrier II+, showcasing its unique V/STOL (Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing) ability. During this flight demonstration, the pilot will conduct high-speed passes at speeds exceeding 600 mph, followed by decelerating and having the aircraft actually hover above the water.
U.S. Coast Guard
The local Coast Guard will get in on the fun with a rescue demonstration. Its search and rescue team will simulate a person in the water in distress and will show how the rescue team operates in case of an emergency.
Local pilot Terfehr will fly his Czech-made L-39 fighter jet, a single engine plane. The president of 45 North Aviation flew his first solo flight on his 16th birthday, and received his pilot’s license on his 17th birthday. If it’s got wings, he can fly it. (And sometimes even if it doesn’t; he’s a licensed helicopter pilot as well.)