There were vintage World War II aircraft twirling through the Tucson skies, modern-day jets that can travel faster than the speed of sound, and parachutists taking death-defying leaps out of airplanes—the 2019 Davis-Monthan Air Show had it all!

On March 23 and 24, Davis- Monthan AFB opened its gates to the public for Thunder & Lightning Over Arizona, its biannual air show. Pleasant temperatures and sunny skies made the perfect conditions for both air show performers and visitors.

Colonel Mike Drowley, the 355th Wing and Davis- Monthan Installation Commander, says it’s important to host an air show to allow the public to learn about the airmen, planes, and missions of Davis-Monthan and the United States Air Force.

Besides DM aircraft, the crowd also had an opportunity to view and learn about other famous planes like the P-51 Mustang, A-29 Super Tucano, B-52 Stratofortress, Japanese Zero, and lots more. There were many performers such as the Wings of Blue parachute team from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Red Bull Air Force, and the Shockwave Jet Truck. The most exciting performers of the group were the F-22 Raptor and A-10 Warthog demonstration teams.

The F-22 is a fast, stealthy, fifth-generation fighter that can reach speeds up to Mach 2.25. It’s highly maneuverable and can shock the crowd with its amazing aerial stunts.

The A-10 Warthog is an air-to-ground attack plane with a deadly 30mm gatling gun in its nose. There are 85 A-10s stationed at DM that can be seen flying sorties over Tucson regularly.

There were also many static displays such as the C-5 Galaxy, KC-135 Stratotanker, and AV-8 Harrier. Static displays are important because they allow visitors to view not only the exterior of the airplanes but also the interior. They even had the opportunity to learn about the aircraft from its pilot and crew.

The grand finale of the show was the USAF Thunderbirds Aerial  demonstration team. It consists of two solo jets and four jets flying in their signature diamond formation. The team performed many dazzling maneuvers including rocket-like climbs, the Split S, loops and their famous Bomb Burst. The crowd roared every time they made a pass over the airfield.

Hosting an air show is easier said than done. Drowley stated it takes at least one year to plan and costs millions of dollars. All the hard work was worth it as almost 300,000 people enjoyed the event. It was loud when the jets flew overhead, but it was so exciting that you didn’t care about the noise. Whether you dream of becoming a pilot or are just amazed by aviation, look for the next DM open house in 2021.



Photo Credit: Stephen Gin, Bear Essential News

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