ORLANDO, Fla. — The cancellation of air shows across the United States due to COVID-19 concerns will receive temporary relief in April as three virtual aviation events are broadcast live to the public.
The closure of air show events through late-May, and many more beyond, have prompted organizers to create online air shows. Two events are in the planning stages with a live fly over by the Air Force Thunderbirds nestled in between.
The Chef Pitts Online Airshow
The first event is planned for Saturday, April 18, featuring popular aerobatic pilot Clemens Kuhlig, aka Chef Pitts. A crowd favorite across the southeast, Kuhlig will pilot his Pitts S1S for several minutes.
“Unfortunately, we’re not going to fly any air shows for a couple of more weeks, so I decided to try to put together an online show,” Aerobatic pilot Clemens Kuhlig explained on Friday.
The free broadcast will take place on Airshow360 Facebook page. Aerobatic national champion Patty Wagstaff will also be included.
“We will bring you the fun and excitement of air shows and events we know will come back stronger and better than ever,” Airshow announcer and spokesperson Lunar Sawyer told AvGeekery.com. “The Chef Pitts Online Air Show is our way of telling our fans we will continue to entertain you with air show, air race, and aviation event coverage, especially now when we can’t see each other on the ramp.”
Lunar noted the announcement of more performers on April 13.
The Thunderbirds Air Force Academy Flyover
The Air Force Thunderbirds will perform their traditional flyover of the Air Force Academy’s Class of 2020 Graduation event also on April 18. The exact time of the flyover will occur during the cap toss, according to academy officials.
The graduation is expected to begin at 10:30 a.m. MDT. The public will be able to live stream the entirety of the event.
The Socially Distant Airshow
The Canadian Snowbirds and top aerobatic pilots will contribute to a live broadcast event known as The Socially Distant Airshow. The air show is scheduled to air April 21-23, during a two-hour block beginning at 3 p.m. EDT.
In addition to the RCAF Snowbirds, performers include the GEICO Skytypers, AeroShell Aerobatic Team, Patty Wagstaff, Rob Holland, Adam Baker, Mike Wiskus, and more. The list is expected to grow over the next two weeks.
Each day will include new prerecorded video of military and civilian performers with the announcers providing live commentary and music. The video of flight demonstrations will be between two to six minutes in duration.
“It’s important to keep the excitement of air shows alive for the public — and coming back to airshows as soon as we’re able to have them again,” Wagstaff told AvGeekery.com on Friday. “People are looking for other forms of entertainment at the moment, and airshows are very entertaining.”
The broadcast can be viewed for free. A donation is being asked as Live Airshow TV uses the event as a fundraiser.
Lead show announcer Rob Reider states 100% of the proceeds will go to the ICAS Foundation to fund members in need during these times.
“There is a part of the International Council of Airshows foundation that’s called the family fund, and it has operated when performers have been in need,” Reider said on Wednesday. “The Family Fund is something that is near and dear to my heart, and that’s why — how ever the foundation chooses to use this for those in need — I can trust that funds raised will be handed out to those who need it.”
Live Airshow TV has reached out to several U.S. military flight demonstration teams during the past week.
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)