While post-covid shows are starting to appear once again, it may be another year before many fully resume. In anticipation of their return, it’s worth noting their origin and some little-known facts. Show schedules can be found at the bottom of this article.
Since the early 1900s airshows have captivated spectators, pilots, and aircraft enthusiasts from around the globe. The very first show took place in Reims, France 1909, where the world’s leading aviators met to compete in the first organized international air meet. Officially known as Le Grande Semaine D’Aviation de la Champagne (The Champagne Region’s Great Aviation Week). The Reims air meet held contests for the best flights of distance, altitude, and speed.
The first major U.S. airshow held in Jan. 1910 at Dominguez Field took place just south of Los Angeles. The key participants included a winning pilot from the Reims competition, daredevil aviators, and aerospace hobbyists.
At the Los Angeles show and other events around that time, several U.S. pilots set records in competitions at each of the meets. Spectators were able to view aerial stunts, and Americans were suddenly made aware of the airplane’s entertainment value, -as well as its usefulness for the transportation of passengers and cargo.
Before the second world war, air shows were associated with long-distance air races, often lasting many days and covering thousands of miles. Air shows today primarily feature a series of aerial demonstrations of shorter durations.
Terms and types
Also known as airfares or air tattoos, -airshows (as they are typically known) in the United States vary in their purpose, displays, planes, and venues. The most common types include military and trade promotion shows.
Military shows often include demonstrations of modern military aircraft and are organized around local and national military charities and a way to thank communities for their support. These can draw large numbers of spectators when military jet demonstration teams such as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform.
Some airshows will advertise as business ventures/trade events where aircraft, avionics, and other services and technical advancements are on display. These types often feature aerobatics and other aeronautical attractions. These might also include wing-walking, radio-controlled aircraft, water/slurry drops from firefighting aircraft, simulated helicopter rescues, skydiving, and an occasional warbird.
Aerobatic maneuvers at most air shows consist of five basic maneuvers:
- Lines (both horizontal and vertical)
When the pilot pulls the plane up vertically, continuing around until heading back in the same direction. Like making a 360-degree turn, except it is in the vertical plane instead of the horizontal. The pilot will be upside down at the top of the loop. A loop can also be performed by rolling upside down and making the same maneuver but diving towards the ground.
This is when the aircraft completes a full 360° revolution about its longitudinal axis. With no change in altitude, it exits the maneuver on the same heading as it entered. It is commonly confused with a barrel roll.
More complex, it involves intentionally stalling a single wing, causing the plane to descend, spiraling around in a corkscrew motion.
Also known as a stall turn, the aircraft is pointing straight up (much like the beginning of a loop). The pilot continues to fly up until their airspeed has dropped to a certain critical point. The pilot then uses the rudder to rotate the aircraft around until it has turned and is pointing straight down, facing the direction from which the plane came.
- The largest air show by the number of participating airplanes is EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, WI, with approximately 10,000 airplanes participating each year. The event is to resume this month.
- The largest military airshow in the world is the Royal International Air Tattoo, at RAF Fairford in England.
- According to the International Council of Air Shows, an average of 325-350 air shows occur each year in the United States and Canada. Between 10 and 12 million Americans attend air shows every year.
- In-flight, aerobatic pilots undergo a high level of g-forces which can cause them to lose consciousness. Pilots follow a rigorous fitness routine that includes strength training, aerobic and anaerobic exercises to help them contend with the physical demands. While some of the most extreme roller coasters have a maximum of 4Gs, a flight qualifies as aerobatic when it pulls at least 5Gs. Some aircraft and stunt planes can reach 10Gs.
When and where to go – 2021
Following are shows scheduled for the remainder of this year. These events range from local to global. Check back for updates as schedules can change.
Aug. 28-29, noon – 4:00 p.m.
Warhawk Air Museum 201 Municipal Dr., Nampa, ID
The Gowen Thunder show, scheduled for Aug. 28-29, in Boise, ID has been postponed.
2021 Oregon International Airshow
July 30 – Aug. 1, The event will be held with a drive-in/tailgate format.
Airshow of the Cascades
Aug. 27 -28
Aug. 7- some events will be televised
For other events and to plan for next year visit: