Today’s video is remarkable. If you’re a pilot, a bona-fide Avgeek, or just an enthusiast, you will definitely enjoy this ride! The footage was captured during a United States Air Force F-16 Viper Demonstration Team flight. But that’s not all folks. While the demonstration itself (shown from both the pilot’s perspective as well as from the ground) is a great watch, the video also includes the same two perspectives from the slot position in a four-ship Heritage Flight over the airshow.
The F-16 is getting long in the tooth. That’s no secret. But it’s also a highly capable and versatile jet that still has a lot of good years left. While we won’t get into the entire history of the F-16 in this piece, suffice it to say that since it became operational with the Air Force in 1979, more than 4500 of them have been built and operated by 26 countries in addition to the United States Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. It is the job of the Air Combat Command F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, based at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, to make lasting memories with the F-16. They do it well.
The Heritage Flight consists of the Lockheed P-38J Lightning “23 Skidoo” in the lead, the North American P-15D Mustang “Fragile But Agile” flying left wing, the North American F-86 Sabre “Jolley Roger” flying right wing, and the Viper Demo F-16C flying the slot position. Heritage Flights take place at many airshows with warbirds in attendance, but it’s rare to be able to see what one looks like from the slot position in a four ship diamond formation.
Shot during the Planes of Fame Airshow at Chino in California during 2016 in HD video and high quality audio by the Air Force and YouTuber spencerhughes2255, the video will definitely give you an appreciation for what a demo pilot like Major Craig Baker (call sign Rocket) endures during a typical 10 minute Viper flight. When the Viper Demo pilot recovers, take a look at all those warbirds on the tarmac. Chino has been one of the hotbeds of warbird activity seemingly since the dawn of flight, but it still takes one’s breath away to see so many classic airframes in the same place…and that’s just on a typical Chino day! Enjoy the video!