2018 Event Review

Luke Days: The Future of Airpower, March 17-18, 2018

Location: Luke Air Force Base, Glendale, Arizona
Admission: FREE
Parking: $10 offsite, shuttle transportation
Value: Excellent
Rating out of 10: 9
 
Luke Days airshow 2018

 

The 2018 Luke Air Force Base Open House "The Future of Airpower" officially kicked off on March 17-18 featuring the United States Navy Blue Angels for the first time since 1992. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds were originally supposed to be the headliner but couldn't make it due to certification flights. Along with the Blue Angels, the show featured a wide variety of performers including the A-10C Thunderbolt II Demo Team, Luke based F-35 Heritage Flight Team, and much more.

Gates opened at 9:00 am and spectators were able to visit the many static displays and exhibits the show offered. Many of the statics consisted of F-16s and F-35s that were based out of Luke and other U.S. Air Force aircraft.

The show officially started at 11:30 am with the singing of the national anthem. Earlier performers mainly included aerobatic performers such as Bill Stein in his Edge 540, Gary Rowen in his Boeing Stearman, Brad Wursten in his MXS, Bill Roetman in his Pitts biplane, and the Desert Rats Nanchang CJ-6 4-ship formation team.

There were a lot of great warbird performances including Tora Tora Tora which is a reenactment of the events of Pearl Harbor where many Japanese fighters and dive bombers simulate attack runs on the ground as if they were attacking enemy ships in the sea. The demonstration featured a lot of pyro and even included the B-17 Flying Fortress known as "Sentimental Journey." Along with Tora Tora Tora was the specially painted P-51C Mustang from the Commemorate Air Force in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen. The P-51C performed multiple passes towards the crowd in dedication to the Tuskegee Institute. Gregory "Wired" Colyer also performed in his Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star jet trainer known as "Ace Maker II." During his flight, Colyer showcased many maneuvers by the Korean War aircraft.

One of the major highlights from the show was the Joint Field Assault Demo which featured 2 F-16 Fighting Falcons and 2 F-35 Lightning II's all stationed out of Luke. The fighters conducted many high speed passes and simulated ground attack runs in a demonstration that featured many flares. Along with the Luke jets included an HC-130 Hercules and HH-60 Pave Hawk whose roles were to support their ground forces from enemy attack and deploy additional troops and support equipment to the surface.

Making it's official airshow debut at Luke AFB was the A-10C Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team. Piloted by Capt. Cody "SHiV" Wilton, the A-10 performed many combat maneuvers including tight turns and simulated close air support attacks with pyro. This was the first full public A-10 demonstration since 2011. After the solo demo routine, Capt. Wilton joined with an F-35 Lightning II piloted by Capt. Andrew "Dojo" Olson and a P-51 Mustang for the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight. This show was also the first show of the year for the F-35 Heritage Flight Team. The Heritage Flight is a rare formation of Air Force fighters of past and present who commemorate those who fought in wars over the years. On Sunday, the crowd was pleased by a special appearance of the F-22 Raptor in the formation flown by Demo Team pilot Maj. Paul "Loco" Lopez. The F-22 Demo Team joined for a 4-ship flight after their performance from MCAS Yuma, Arizona during the same weekend.

Towards the end of the show more aerobatics were featured. Those performers included the Red Bull Air Force featuring Kirby Chambliss piloting his Edge 540, Aaron Fitzgerald in the BO-105 Helicopter, and the Red Bull skydivers. Along with the Red Bull Air Force was John Klatt in the Jack Link's Screamin' Sasquatch Jet Waco. The Screamin' Sasquatch is a heavily modified Waco biplane with a jet engine.

Concluding the show was the United States Navy Blue Angels for only their second show of the 2018 airshow season. The team, lead by their new leader Cdr. Eric Doyle, rocked the skies of Luke for the first time in over 25 years with incredible maneuvers including multiple formation flights, formation breaks, and many astounding solo routines. After their aerial demonstration, the Blue Angels walked over to the crowd line to meet fans and sign autographs.

After flying activities concluded, spectators were able to continue viewing the static displays and vendors at the show before the gates closed at 5:00 pm. Special thanks to the airmen of Luke, volunteers, performers, sponsors, and spectators for making Luke Days 2018 a success!

Participants:

Performers:

U.S. Navy Blue Angels

A-10C Thunderbolt II Demo Team & Heritage Flight with F-35A Lightning II, F-22 Raptor (Sunday only), and P-51 Mustang

U.S. Air Force Joint Field Assault Demo - x2 F-35A Lightning II, x2 F-16C Fighting Falcon, HC-130 Hercules, HH-60 Pave Hawk, Ground Forces

U.S. Air Force Wings of Blue

Gregory “Wired” Colyer - T-33 Shooting Star “Ace Maker II”

Tora Tora Tora! featuring B-17 Flying Fortress “Sentimental Journey”
Tuskegee Airmen P-51C Mustang

Desert Rats Nanchang CJ-6 Formation Team

Gary Rowen Stearman Aerobatics

Red Bull Air Force - Kirby Chambliss, Aaron Fitzgerald, and Skydivers

Jack Link’s Screamin’ Sasquatch Jet Waco

Bill Stein Edge 540 Aerobatics

Brad Wursten MXS Aerobatics

Bill Roetman Pitts Aerobatics


Static Displays

x3 F-35A Lightning II - 56th Fighter Wing AETC, Luke AFB, AZ

F-35A Lightning II Japan Air Self Defense Force

F-35A Lightning II - Royal Norwegian Air Force

F-35A Lightning II - Italian Air Force

F-22A Raptor - 1st Fighter Wing, Langley AFB, VA

x2 F-16C Fighting Falcon - 56th Fighter Wing AETC, Luke AFB, AZ

F-16C Fighting Falcon - 162d Fighter Wing, Tucson ANGB, AZ

F-16A Fighting Falcon - 21st Fighter Squadron, Luke AFB, AZ

F-16D Fighting Falcon - 425th Fighter Squadron, Luke AFB, AZ

x2 F-15E Strike Eagle - 366th Fighter Wing, Mountain-Home AFB, ID

A-10C Thunderbolt II - AFRC, Davis-Monthan AFB, CA

C-5M Super Galaxy - 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, CA

C-17A Globemaster III - 452d Air Mobility Wing, March ARB, CA

KC-135 Stratotanker - 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix ANGB, AZ

P-8 Poseidon

T-50A Golden Eagle


Report and photography by Geoffrey Arnwine for The Aviation Magazine

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Images of Luke Days 2018
 
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