The Valiant Air Command’s 35th annual TICO Warbird Airshow kicks off this weekend at Brevard County’s Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, promising to draw thousands of spectators to the small city whose economy has suffered dramatically since NASA retired their space shuttle fleet in 2011.
The 3-day airshow kicks off today, with some 75 vintage aircraft on display and flying in the show, including “FIFI” – the world’s only flying B-29 Superfortress. This year’s theme honors the 70th anniversary of the ‘Doolittle Raiders’, famously portrayed in the 2001 blockbuster movie Pearl Harbor. At least four B-25’s, the aircraft flown by the Doolittle Raiders, will be on display and are expected to fly each day of the show. Rides are also being offered on these historic aircraft both before and after the air show.
The Lakeland based Black Diamond Jet Team, the only civilian jet demonstration team in the country, will be back again to wow spectators with their tight formation high-performance maneuvers in their black & grey camouflaged jets. The F-104 Starfighter team will perform again this year as well. The Air Force has promised a B-2 stealth bomber fly-by for Saturday’s show. These and many other acts will be performing in the skies over Titusville this weekend.
Video Credit: Mike Killian for Americaspace and ARES Institute
As a preview for this year’s show, I was offered a chance to fly with veteran pilot Mike Dunkel in a vintage T-28 Trojan. Mike is a former airline captain and a life long enthusiast. He’s flown over 100 types of aircraft and has been flying in air shows since 1976. He’s a member of the EAA, AOPA, NATA, Valiant Air Command, Warbirds of America, the Florida EAA Warbirds Chapter, and the Classic Jet Aircraft Association.
We took off in formation with another T-28 under mostly clear skies and headed out over the ocean off Port Canaveral and Cocoa Beach. Although not the high performance insanely aerobatic aircraft people are used to seeing nowadays, the flight was unforgettable and incredibly unique, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to experience a little of what flying in a vintage military aircraft is like. The T-28’s and many other older warbirds will be on display for the public to see, and in some cases fly in, during this weekend’s air show.
Adult tickets for this weekend’s airshow are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Children (ages 4-12) are $5 in advance and $10 at the gate. Parking is free, and gates open at 8:30 a.m – with the airshow beginning at 1 p.m.
For more information, call 321-268-1941 or visit http://www.nbbd.com/festivals/warbird/.
The show is conducted by TICO Warbird Airshow, Inc., with all proceeds going to the Valiant Air Command Museum Fund.
Below are several images from Thursday’s media flight. All photos, except the last one, credit: Mike Killian for Americaspace and ARES Institute.