Thunderbirds ready to fly at air show despite weather

How high the Thunderbirds fly at the Vectren Dayton Air Show will depend on the weather this weekend, but they landed Thursday at the airport despite clouds, wind and rain.

The Air Force’s Thunderbirds return to the air show this year, which starts Saturday and continues through Sunday at the Dayton International Airport.

“We’ve gotten a lot of practice with this kind of weather this year,” said Maj. Will Graeff, a Thunderbirds left wing pilot. “But, the better you are, the more prepared you are…this weather is definitely flyable.”

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This weekend’s air show shouldn’t be a “washout,” but it could be dampened with an occasional shower or thunderstorm, Storm Center 7 meteorologist Dontae Jones said.

To perform despite poor weather, the Thunderbirds need at least 2,000 feet of air space, and Graeff said the final decision on when and what type of performance they’ll conduct will be made after officials take everything into account this weekend.

This year will mark the Thunderbird’s first air show performance since 2015. The Thunderbirds were expected to perform in 2017 but canceled their show.

Graeff said he was looking forward to performing in Dayton, in part because of its heritage as being the home of the Wright Brothers, and because it is the location of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

“It’s definitely an exciting show for us,” Graeff said. “We’ve been looking forward to it all year.”

Last year’s air show was estimated to have generated around a $3.7 million impact in the local economy, said Scott Buchanan, board chairman of the show.

The Dayton air show is often ranked one of the country’s best, and it’s a rating that is well deserved, said John Cudahy, president of the Virginia-based International Council of Air Shows.

» RELATED: Dayton air show could be damp, but it won’t be a ‘washout’

In 2018, around 62,000 people attended the air show when the Navy’s Blue Angels performed.

Though the Thunderbirds are this year’s military jet team attraction, the air show will feature several other acts.

This year’s air show will feature demonstrations of a C-17 Globemaster III and KC-135 Stratotanker for the first time. An F/A-18 super hornet — the aircraft that has served the Navy for two decades — will also fly during the show.

Formed in 1959, the U.S. Army Golden Knights will perform this weekend. The Golden Knights, a group of paratroopers, entertain air show visitors through skydiving formations and “extreme” landings, according to the show.

The GEICO Skytypers will fly the same aircraft originally built for use in World War II by Navy pilots. The Skytypers will perform an 18-minute, low-level show this weekend.

The Shockwave Jet truck will return to the air show this year. The truck is powered by three after-burning jet engines and holds the world record for being the fastest truck in the world with the ability to drive at 376 miles per hour, according to the air show.

The aerobatic Team Oracle pilots will also return and will be led by famed pilot Sean Tucker. Pilots Skip Stewart and Jacquie B. will also perform, according to the show.

A British sea harrier will make an appearance at the show, said board chairman Scott Buchanan. The harrier —a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft — last appeared at the air show in 2012

“Every other year we’re very fortunate to either get the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels, so that stays pretty steady,” Buchanan said. “But, the show changes every year.”


• Location: Former Emery/UPS Freight Facility located on Old Springfield Road north of the airport.

Who: All spectator parking including General Admission, P-Lot and VIP.

Cost: $10 per car or $20 per bus/ RV.

Arrival: The show recommends visitors arrive before 10 a.m. to get a space and shuttle ride quicker.

Directions From I-70: Use Exit 32 for the Airport Access Road off Interstate 70. Visitors will be able to follow digital signs that will direct them to drive west on West National Road, north on Dog Leg Road and east on Old Springfield Rd., according to the air show.

Directions From I-75: Spectators can also use Exit 64 on Interstate 75 to Northwoods Boulevard and follow signs. The route from I-75 is could be affected because Dixie Highway will be down to a single-lane, according to the air show.

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