Thunderbirds, F-22 Raptor to Headline California’s Thunder over the Bay

The Air Force Thunderbirds return to Travis AFB, Calif., on March 30 and 31 for Thunder Over the Bay. (USAF/Heide Couch)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The sounds of air power will echo across central California this month as the Air Force’s top demonstration teams and civilian aerobatic pilots gather to perform during the Travis Air Force Base air show.

“Thunder over the Bay” air show will bring together top military aircraft of today and popular warbirds from yesteryear. The air show will honor local hometown heroes during the two-day event on March 30 and 31. Tucked between San Francisco and Sacramento, Travis AFB’s 60th Air Mobility Wing will host the region’s largest family-friendly event planned for 2019.

“Travis AFB will have one of the best lineups in the nation, to include the Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Army Golden Knights, and the Patriots Jet Team,” Travis AFB Airshow Deputy Director Maj. Marie Barrett said. “And if that isn’t enough, we will also have demonstrations by the F-22 Raptor, A-10 Warthog, C-17, C-130J, U-2, and much more!”

The Thunderbirds return to Travis AFB on March 30/31 for Thunder Over the Bay. (USAF)

The Thunderbirds’ six F-16 Fighting Falcons will take to the skies each afternoon to showcase the pride and precision of the 660,000 Airmen they represent. Their nearly 45-minute demonstration will highlight the handling of the F-16, including slow passes by their diamond formation, and high speed passes by their two solos.

F-22 pilot Major Paul “Loco” Lopez will perform a nearly 15-minute flight demonstration before joining up with two popular aircraft. After the Raptor concludes its demonstration, it will move into a close formation flight with a P-51 Mustang and an A-10 Warthog for the crowd favorite Heritage Flight.

“The Heritage Flight is a living memorial pairing up a modern fighter with a World War II or Korean-era airplane flying in formation,” Maj. Lopez explained to this aerospace journalist. “Paired with great narration and great music, it captures that feeling of how import the Air Force legacy is in the military.”

Air Force Major Paul “Loco” Lopez pilots the F-22 Raptor during a recent flight. (Atkeison)

Civilian aerobatic performers, including the T-33 Acemaker, Matt Chapman’s Extra 330LX, Jeff Boerboon’s Yak-110 will also perform during the two-day event.

“We look forward to a weekend displaying our gratitude the best way we know how: with a little bit of air power,” 60th Air Mobility Wing commander Col. Jeff Nelson said on Friday.

Travis AFB will lift their local firefighters, police, teachers, and community leaders upon their shoulders with the air show theme, ‘Honoring our Hometown Heroes’. Air show organizers will showcase American citizens who have performed amazing contributions to the local region and who have put forth efforts to advance the local community.

“We are thankful our country looks to the military as heroes of hope and security,” 60th Air Mobility Wing commander Col. Jeff Nelson said on Monday. “Yet, it’s important for Team Travis not to overlook the heroes in our local community who, like us, work every day to keep us safe.

A Kids Zone area will allow children to play and jump on aviation-themed bounces and take part in educational activities. Travis AFB gates open to the public at 9 a.m. each day and admission is free.

(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)