MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Air Force F-22 Raptor and F-16 Fighting Falcon will lead the nation’s military and civilian aircraft into the blue skies of Alabama next Saturday during the Red Tails Over Montgomery Air Show.
The single day air show is free to the public and will take place at the capital city’s Dannelly Field ANGB near the regional airport on September 8. The event will showcase the aircraft flown by the Air Force with demonstrations in the air and static aircraft on the ground.
The show will include a salute to the pilots of yesteryear who beat in the hearts of the pilots of today.
The Red Tails air show will honor the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen who became the first group of African-American military aviators, maintainers, navigators, and held support duties at the start of World War II. The location of the Tuskegee Airmen is today a national historic site 40 miles east of Montgomery.
“We’re excited and ready to showcase the past, present, and future of the Red Tails in our air show,” Air show Director Lt. Col. Paul Griggs said on Tuesday. “The aerial acts will be breathtaking, and with dozens of static aircraft and other displays, there’s something for the whole family.”
The F-22 Raptor will demonstrate the 21st century stealth jet’s military maneuvers at low altitudes and high climbs. Raptor pilot Major Paul “Loco” Lopez will put the F-22 through several gravity defying maneuvers concluding with a wingtip to wingtip flight with the P-51D Mustang during the popular Heritage Flight.
“One of the cool things about being on the F-22 Demonstration Team is you get the ability to execute maneuvers close to ground, going upside down at air shows, as well as going fast at times during the demo,” Maj. Lopez confirmed during an Air Force discussion last week. “All the skill sets that we display on the demo team are all the same skill sets that airmen across the board in the Air Force have as well.”
Lopez, who is half-way through his first season as the leader of the crowd favorite F-22 Demo, is the team’s first African-American pilot. He credits the airmen of his entire squadron for their success and simply making his job fun.
“When people come out on the road and see the F-22 demonstration in action, they’re gonna get a chance to see, essentially, the epitome of teamwork,” Major Lopez said. “It’s the culmination of individuals from various and diverse backgrounds coming together to showcase American air power. It’s just a great experience.”
On the air base’s tarmac, visitors can get up close with popular military aircraft including the F-35A Lightning II, F-15 Eagle, a C-130 Hercules, and the A-10 Thunderbolt nicknamed the Warthog. The massive KC-135 Stratotanker, designed to support in-flight refueling of the nation’s military aircraft during long trips, will also be on static display.
Civilian aerobatic pilots wil also perform including the speed of the Trojan Phlyers’ two T-28B Trojan aircraft, pilot Gary Ward aboard his high energy Mx2, and the Alabama Boys with pilot Greg Koontz. A P-51 Mustang will also perform and join Major Lopez for the Heritage Flight.
“We’ve received unparalleled support from our community in the River Region during the F-35 base selection process, and this air show is a small token of our appreciation,” 187th Fighter Wing commander Col. William Sparrow stated. “We want to invite everyone in the community to see what the Red Tails do every day, and witness air power up close.”
The free air show expects nearly 30,000 guests to attend the single-day event. Gates will open at 9 a.m. and Lt. Col. Griggs recommends guests arrive early ahead of the first flights at 11 a.m. Updates on traffic and parking lot availability will be posted on the air show’s Facebook page.
There will be six off-base public parking locations divided into Blue, Green, Yellow, Red, Purple, and White lots where guests can then bus in to the base. One parking lot on the base is designed for handicapped parking and requires drives to display an ADA sign.
The mission of the 187th is a simple one and is posted on base for the airmen to remember, “We’re on a mission training to deliver combat air power, but we’ll never forget the Red Tails we’ve lost, and we will strive every day to honor their legacy.”
(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)