Davis-Monthan March 2015.
and pictures by Ronald de Roij
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force (USAF), the
Heritage Flight program was founded in 1997. Heritage Flight
performances of current fighter/attack aircraft flying with World War
II, Korea and Vietnam era fighters displaying USAF airpower history and
to honour those who have served, or are currently serving, in the USAF.
In 2010, the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, a non-profit
organization, was formed to keep this popular program flying.
For safety reasons an annual aerial demonstration training event has been
held at D-M since 2001, providing civilian and military pilots the
opportunity to practice flying in formation for the upcoming air show
During the course, aircrews practiced ground and flight training to
enable civilian pilots of historic military aircraft and U.S. Air Force
pilots of current fighter aircraft to fly safely in formations together.
The annual aerial demonstration training event has been held at Davis-Monthan
since 2001, providing civilian and military pilots the opportunity to
practice flying in formation for the upcoming air show season. The U.S.
Air Force Heritage Flight program presents the evolution of USAF air power
by flying todayís state-of-the-art fighter aircraft in close formation
with vintage fighter aircraft. A Heritage Flight performance involves a
current USAF fighter piloted by an Air Combat Command trained military
Heritage Flight pilot and flown with a historical warbird piloted by a
trained and certified civilian Heritage Flight pilot.
The aircraft that participated in this yearís Heritage Flight Training
and Certification Course were the historic P-51 Mustang, P-40 Warhawk,
P-38 Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt and the F-86 Sabre.
From the Air Force side two F-22 Lightning's flew in from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, while three F-16
Falcon's arrived from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina to
participated in the training. As they are the solo teams for the Air
force Combat Command display program for this year.
Currently, the F-22 and F-16 Single-Ship Demonstration Teams are the
only active duty participants of the Heritage Flight Program. When the
program started in 1997, the Air Force celebrated itsí 50th Anniversary
as a separate branch of the military. In support of the celebration, Air force Combat Command started flying dissimilar formation flights
consisting of our F-15, F-16, and A-10 Single-Ship Demonstration Teams
combined with Civilian Warbird Pilots flying A-1ís, A-36ís, P-40ís,
P-51ís, P-47ís, P-38ís, and F-86ís. The response was an overwhelming
favourite during air shows, so Air Force Combat Command designed and approved a formal
program, The USAF Heritage Flight Program, to continue these flights
throughout future air show seasons.
The F-22 Single-Ship Demonstration Team and active duty F-4ís were added
to the program in 2005 and the F-15E Strike Eagle Single-Ship
Demonstration Team was added in 2006. In 2010, the Air Force Heritage
Flight Foundation was formed to
keep this popular program flying. In 2012, the former A-10 and F-16
Single-Ship Demonstration Teams became Heritage Flight Teams only and
the F-15E Strike Eagle Demonstration Team was deactivated.
In 2013, due
to funding concerns, the USAF cancelled all support for the program and
the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation increased its commitment to the program and kept it alive by
flying Heritage Flight with warbirds only. Air force Combat Command aircraft did not
participate. In 2014, Air force Combat Command reactivated the F-22 Single-Ship Demonstration
Team and one F-16 Heritage Flight Team, and in 2015, the F-16 Heritage
Flight team once again became a Single-Ship Demonstration Team.
The Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation celebrates U.S. air power
history by providing 40Ė60 annual Heritage Flight demonstrations around
the world. Heritage Flights are flown at events ranging from open houses
and air shows to sporting events, parades and funerals.