CLEVELAND, Ohio — Labor Day weekend on Ohio’s northern coast will have top military and civilian aircraft performing high speed aerobatics and low-level flying during the annual Cleveland National Airshow.
The three-day event returns to the Burke Lakefront Airport near the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. The massive family air show will showcase performances by the Air Force Thunderbirds, GEICO Skytypers, and local aircraft from the Coast Guard and Metro Life Flight.
The Thunderbirds will perform a 45-minute flight demonstration each day aboard their F-16 Fighting Falcons. The six pilots, lead by Lt. Col. John Caldwell in Thunderbird 1, will fly nearly 40 maneuvers demonstrating the diversity of the tactical fighter with the two solos at high speeds and the diamond in a tight formation.
The Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II and A-10 Thunderbolt II will turn up the thrust as they demonstrate maneuvers at an average speed of 500 m.p.h. This year will mark the F-35 Demonstration Team’s first visit to this air show.
“We are thrilled and honored to be a part of the first F-35 Tactical Demonstration tour bringing one of the world’s most advanced aircraft to Cleveland,” Kim Dell, Executive Director of the Cleveland National Air Show, said. “We know our loyal air show fans will be eager to see what this incredible aircraft is capable of during its first full demo in Cleveland.”
Guests will also witness the F-35 in a commemorative Heritage Flight as it flies with the A-10C and a World War II P-51 Mustang Bum Steer. The Air Force Heritage Flight has become a crowd favorite across the United States as it honors the pilots and aircraft of yesteryear through today.
The Army’s Golden Knights Parachute Team will drop in twice each day, including delivering an unfurled American flag during the national anthem. Civilian aerobatic pilots Julie Clark and Mike Wiskus are scheduled to demonstrate high speed aerobatics, including a few nose dives.
The six World War II aircraft of the GEICO Skytypers will blaze a trail above Burke Lakefront Airport as they display select war time maneuvers. The pilots and maintainers of these silver warbirds carry the torch forward for the Greatest Generation of pilots, demonstrating their story high above the air show crowd.
“We are excited to reveal this season’s 20-maneuver demonstration at the Cleveland National Air Show,” GEICO Skytypers squadron commander and team flight lead Larry Arken said on Wednesday. “Air show attendees will see first-hand what these warbirds are made of.”
The team’s 16-minute flight demo is not their only feature during an air show. The forecast of clear to partly cloudy skies over the airport will allow the team to create a massive sky written message at the opening of the show.
The outcome are massive letters the size of the Empire State Building in which someone standing 15 miles away in any direction can witness. The speed of the six SNJ-2 aircraft in a line abreast formation can create nearly 25 characters in under two minutes.
The family-friendly event include the Kiddie Koncourse for children up to age 7. The area can allow parents to give their children an area to escape the aircraft noise and have fun on their level with fun activities and changing stations.
Good weather is forecast for the 54th annual Cleveland National Airshow on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Guests can park at the airport or nearby parking lots, or even commute via a Rapid station. Gates will open at 9 a.m. each day and the flying will begin thirty minutes later.
(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)