SWANTON – A variety of attractions will be on display as an air show returns to Toledo Express Airport for the first time in 12 years. The show is slated for July 16-17 and will feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s official air demonstration team, have been active since 1953. Since its inception, 325 officers have worn the distinguished emblem of “America’s Ambassadors in Blue” serving for the unit.
A Thunderbirds air demonstration is a mix of formation flying and solo routines. The four-jet diamond formation demonstrates the training and precision of Air Force pilots, while the lead and opposing solo aircraft highlights some of the maximum capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
The pilots perform approximately 40 maneuvers in a demonstration. The entire show, including the ground show and air demonstration, lasts about 75 minutes. The season typically starts in March and ends in November, with the winter months used to train new members.
Officers serve a two-year assignment with the squadron, while enlisted personnel serve three to four.
The squadron performs no more than 80 air demonstrations each year and has never canceled a demonstration due to maintenance difficulty. More than 280 million people in all 50 states and 57 foreign countries have seen the red, white and blue Thunderbirds jets in more than 3,500 aerial demonstrations.
“The Thunderbirds are among America’s elite pilots,” said Congressman Bob Latta when the schedule was announced. “This is a great opportunity to strengthen the ties between our community, and our Armed Forces.”
Also at the air show will be the U.S. Army Golden Knights. The Golden Knights are a demonstration and competition parachute team of the United State Army.
The demonstration teams, which use five dedicated aircraft, perform at more than 100 events per year. The parachutists on the team are chosen from U.S. Army Paratroopers who have demonstrated excellence in their parachuting skills. The team is a part of the U.S. Army Accessions Command’s Accession Support Brigade, and is stationed at Fort Bragg, NC.
Aircraft at the show will include Ohio Air National Guard F-16s, P-51 Mustang “Quicksilver” and the F4U Corsair.
Mike Wiskus will perform precise loops, roll, and other maneuvers. Wiskus has been performing airplane stunts for 26 years.
Also scheduled to perform are the Lucas Oil Skydivers, Flashfire Jet Truck, and Mark Kirsch, who attempts to move large objects, such as jumbo jets, with his bare hands.
A more specific display of performers and static displays will be available closer to the dates of the show.
Air shows have taken place in Toledo since 1957, and have attracted audiences of up to 75,000 people. The 2016 event is the first since 2004.
Tickets are available on the air show website, www.toledoairshow.com. Advance general admission tickets are $20 for adults, $14 for kids 5-12 years old, $10 for senior citizens, active and retired military, military dependents and first responders, and tickets are free for military in uniform and children 4 and under.