Vote for your favorite air show

USA Today is holding a reader poll to find the best air show in the nation: “You don’t have to be an aviation enthusiast to appreciate the mid-air stunt shows that headline the nation’s biggest and best air shows. Dozens of such events take place each year around the country, and 10Best has teamed up with a pair of air show experts to narrow the field to the best 20 in the nation. Now it’s your turn to vote. Cast your ballot once per day until voting ends on Monday, July 18, at noon ET. The top 10 winners will be announced on Friday, July 22.” Find out more here, then cast your vote.

Sonex shows new B models for first time

Alton Marsh – AOPA

Sonex Aircraft is showing the Sonex B and Waiex B kitplanes for the first time at the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland, Florida. The aircraft, powered by an AeroVee Turbo engine, will be unveiled on the first day of the show, April 5.

It features MGL Avionics with 8.5-inch dual-screen display, or buyers can select a Dynon SkyView Quick Panel dual-screen system. UL Power offers an option of UL-350 series engines. It also can use Jabiru or Rotax engines. Engine mounts are available from Sonex for those engines.

The “B” models, announced in February, have more room, more panel space, more fuel, more engine choices, and more standard features compared to previous kits, according to Sonex designer and founder John Monnett. Their appearance at the show will be the first opportunity for those outside the company to see the aircraft, as the company has released only digital drawings to date.

In other news, Sonex officials said they have made the 200-knot SubSonex Personal Jet more affordable, offering a Sub-100 SubSonex kit plus PBS TJ-100 engine for $97,000, and allowing customers to split costs over the span of the aircraft’s build time. A BRS airframe parachute is an option. The airframe kit alone without an engine, avionics, upholstery, and finishing materials is $42,000.

Bob Carlton will perform his SubSonex aerobatic airshow act and night performance during Sun ‘n Fun. You can see his routine here as performed last year during EAA AirVenture.

Sonex is also offering a quickbuild kit for the Xenos Motorglider. The airframe kit without an engine or avionics is $16,000.

The larger cockpit features more panel space and a Y-stick. Image courtesy of Sonex Aircraft.

The larger cockpit features more panel space and a Y-stick. Image courtesy of Sonex Aircraft.

Sun ‘n Fun Ready For Early Launch

Mary Grady – AvWeb

Sun N Fun

It’s barely April, and some parts of the East Coast woke to snowfalls this morning, but in Lakeland, Florida, it’s time for an early start to flying season with the opening of Sun ‘n Fun. The show has been tweaking its dates for several years, trying to satisfy fly-in pilots in search of perfect weather and vendors who juggle the show’s schedule with the Aero Friedrichshafen general aviation event, in Germany. Last year, by comparison, the show didn’t start until April 21. This year it runs April 5 to 10, Tuesday through Sunday. According to local weather reports, it should be mostly clear and dry all week, with temps around 80 and just a chance of showers on Thursday. AVweb staffers are now arriving at the show and will provide daily coverage to your inbox starting Tuesday morning.

Among the news expected this week from Sun ‘n Fun are new product announcements from engine and avionics manufacturers, updates on new airplanes in the works and all the latest details from the big airplane companies. Aviation experts and advocates have had a chance now to look over the FAA’s proposed new rules for certifying Part 23 airplanes, so that’s expected to be a major topic of discussion. An update on the FAA’s progress toward approving a lead-free avgas also is expected. And there will be plenty of airshow acts as well, with a demo by Red Bull pilots Michael Goulian and Kirby Chambliss on the agenda, plus the Brietling Jet Team, and a night airshow on Saturday. The F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter will visit the show for the first time. Also exhibiting at Sun ‘n Fun for the first time will be Icon, with their A5 light sport aircraft on display.AVweb will be there and bring you daily reports, with stories, videos and podcasts, all week long.

NC’s Team AeroDynamix & The Blue Angels perform at Tuscaloosa this weekend

Expect a little extra noise and a lot of traffic around Tuscaloosa as the Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show returns this weekend.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron headline the military and civilian acts scheduled to perform. This will be the fourth appearance for the Blue Angels in Tuscaloosa since 2009; the most recent show being in 2012.

Team AeroDynamix based out of Gold Hill, North Carolina will be performing at Tuscaloosa as well.  According to pilot Len Leggette this is the first time the team has performed at this show.  “We are excited to make the trip to Alabama and perform with the Blues” says Leggette.  Team AeroDynamix is scheduled to perform in 17 shows in mostly the eastern United States in 2015.
A F-22A “Raptor” flies at NAS Meridian near Meridan, Miss., March 30, 2008. (Mark Almond/

In addition to the Blue Angels F/A-18 “Hornets,” two of the latest military aircraft will fly. Vapor clouds likely will form around the wings of the U.S Air Force F-22A “Raptor” air-superiority fighter as it is put through its paces. The U.S. Marines will demonstrate a MV-22B “Osprey” tilt rotor, an aircraft that flies likes an airplane and lands and takes off like a helicopter.

Vintage military aircraft will also fly, including Vietnam War-era AH-1 “Cobra” helicopters and an A-4 “Skyhawk.” The Korean War is represented with a F-86E “Sabre” and a P-51D “Mustang” from World War II will fly also. The F-22A and P-51D will fly in close formation during the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight.

Several civilian aerobatic pilots will show off their skills. Skydivers will jump out of perfectly good aircraft to entertain the crowd.

Aerobatic champion Rob Holland will give a military veteran a ride-of-a-lifetime. Veterans can register online for a chance at the flight in his airplane but you had better hurry since the deadline is this morning.

You can also take a flight in the Commemorative Air Force B-17G “Flying Fortress.” The World War II bomber named “Texas Raiders” will make several flights from Thursday though Sunday.

MV-22BA MV-22B “Osprey” flies at MCAS Cherry Point in Havelock, NC, Saturday, May 4, 2012. (Mark Almond/

More than 40 aircraft ranging from a Cessna 150 to a MiG-17 fighter will be on static display.

Gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport. Admission is $5 in advance or $10 at the gate with children 12 and under free. There are reserved seating areas available for an additional charge. More admission information is available here.

Limited parking is available at the airport. Free shuttle buses will carry spectators from three locations: the Intermodal Facility parking deck in downtown Tuscaloosa, the K-Mart parking lot on Skyland Boulevard and Tuscaloosa County High School.

Below is the tentative schedule for the airshow with links to the performers websites:

10 a.m.         Gates open

11:45 a.m.    Opening ceremonies

11:48 a.m.    National anthem with Mike Wiskus circling Lucas Oil Skydivers

11:53 a.m.    Mike Wiskus Lucas Oil Pitts aerobatic teaser

11:58 a.m.    Rob Holland Windows World aerobatic teaser

12:03 p.m.    Sky Soldiers AH-1 Cobra demonstration team

12:18 p.m.    Gary Ward MX2 aerobatics

12:32 p.m.    Disabled American Veterans B-25 “Panchito” demonstration

12:46 p.m.    U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey demonstration

1:03 p.m.      Matt Younkin Beech 18 aerobatic demonstration

1:18 p.m.      Team Aerodynamix

1:39 p.m.      Rob Holland Windows World MXS aerobatic demonstration

1:54 p.m.      Lucas Oil Skydivers with Mike Wiskus aerobatics

2:08 p.m.      Doug Matthews A-4 Skyhawk or F-86 Sabre demonstration

2:18 p.m.      U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor demonstration

2:33 pm        U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight (F-22 and P-51 Mustang)

2:43 p.m.      Rob Holland & Gary Ward 2-ship aerobatics

3 p.m.           U.S. Marine Corps Blue Angels C-130 demonstration

3:10 p.m.      U.S. Navy Blue Angels

5 p.m.           Air show ends – gates close

Could you be an Air Show Pilot?

What does it take to be an airshow pilot?  Let’s start by assuming you have the airplane for the mission and the skills to make it happen.  What is required by the FAA and Air Show Industry.

I think it is safe to say that all airshow performers want to be paid for participating in the show.  If you are going to be compensated you must have a commercial pilots license which also requires a 2nd class medical.

Airshows are flown in an aerobatic box.  This box can be over the airport but not always.  It can and is quite commonly  over a body of water such as the beach or a large lake.  The actual size of the box varies according to the performers that will be using the box.  A much larger box is need for a jet team such as the Blue Angels versus a team flying single engine prop planes.  To perform aerobatic maneuvers in this “waivered” airspace … the FAA requires that you hold a SAC (statement of aerobatic competency) card.

SAC cards are issued by the FAA but the program is administered by ICAS  … the International Council of Airshows.  ICAS is a member organization consisting of airshow directors, vendors, performers, etc.  The ACE program was set up by ICAS to view, coach, and approve the different flight levels for your card.  You will start out at the 800′ level.  You must perform your act in front of the approved ACE.  There are required maneuvers including loops, cubans, reverse cubans, spins (at least three turns recovering within 20 degrees of heading), slows rolls both left & right, hammerheads, roll to inverted then back up right the opposite direction, and if your plane is equipped with inverted fuel & oil … you must perform some inverted maneuvers.  If your ACE passes you .. you will receive an 800′ SAC card from your local FSDO.  You can now perform in airshows with your floor for all aerobatic maneuvers being 800′.

To go lower you must have flown at least 8 performances in at least 5 different airshows.  You now repeat the process with an ACE and fly for him/her at 500′.  If you pass you can now perform with the new floor of 500′.

The next floor is 250′.  To go from 500′ to 250′ … you must have flown 12 performances in at least 6 different shows.  Back to the ACE for evaluation.

Your next goal is a surface level SAC card.  The ultimate in airshow performing.  There are currently less than 200 surface level waiver holds in the United States of which I am one.  To obtain this lofty goal you must have flown at least 16 performances in at least 8 different airshows.  You now must be evaluated by 2 ACEs and not just one.  Two ACEs are required due to the critical need for safety at the surface level.

So as you can see … it takes several years to work your way down through the levels.  Not everyone goes all the way to the surface.  Their act may not require it.  Your SAC card has to be updated each year requiring you fly in front of an ACE.  This can be done at an airshow by having the ACE observe your performance.  As you can see below … we recently flew in front of Mike Goulian at the Pensacola show who then renewed our SAC cards.


It takes dedication, lots of practice, lots of critique, and lots of avgas !!  But if you want to be an airshow performer …. go for it!  It can be done!


Breitling Jet team sets U.S. tour schedule


The Breitling Jet Team has announced its tour dates for 2015, which include, for the first time, stops in the United States. The aerobatic display team is made up of seven L-39 C Albatros jets that can reach speeds of up to 435 mph, and have flown across 36 countries all over the world.

The Breitling Jet Team will begin its tour at SUN ‘n FUN in Lakeland, Fla., with stops in Maryland, the Jones Beach Air Show in New York, the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, SeaFair in Seattle, and the National Championship Air Races in Reno.

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