The 2022 training clinic, officially known as the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course, was held this past weekend (March 3-6), hosted by Air Combat Command at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base . Indeed Davis-Monthan AFB has held these air demonstration training events every year since 2001. The Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation nonprofit organization helps fund civilian participation in these airshow collaborations.
If you’ve attended an air show in the United States in the past two decades, chances are you’ve seen a formation flight featuring both civilian-owned warbirds and active-duty examples of modern US Air Force combat aircraft. These “heritage flights” began to take place officially in preparation for the USAF’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 1997, and they proved extremely popular with the public. As a result, these performances continued in subsequent years, with literally hundreds of appearances across the country.
Despite the seemingly effortless manner in which these aircraft gracefully traverse the skies, it takes considerable skill to place aircraft with such radically different performance characteristics into such tight formations; it also takes a lot of practice. Only a handful of active military and civilian pilots are allowed to participate in these trainings, and each year they meet before the start of the airshow season to work on their routines and practice them in flight.
The warbirds usually participating in the program are included:
- NAA P-51D Mustang 44-73029 Bald Eagle – owner Jim Beasley
- NAA P-51D Mustang 44-73420 – Andrew McKenna
- NAA P-51D Mustang ’44-84961′ Little Willie II – Planes of Fame Air Museum
- NAA TF-51D Mustang 67-14866 Bum Steer – Comanche fighters
- NAA P-51D Mustang 44-12852 Frenesi – Commanche fighters
- Curtiss P-40N Warhawk 44-7369 – Cavanaugh Aviation Museum
- Lockheed P-38M Lightning 44-53095 Thoughts of Midnite – Commanche fighters
- Republic P-47G Thunderbolt 42-25068 Snafu – Commanche fighters
- NAA F-86F Saber 52-5012 Jolley Roger – Planes of Fame Air Museum
- Canadair Saber 6 ARC 23671 HELL-ER BUST X – Commanche fighters
We also heard from one of the participating pilots, Andrew McKenna: “The Heritage Flight is a program that exists to support the past, present and future of the USAF. All civilian members of the foundation are honored to be a very small part of the USAF support network and to help recruit and retain the next generation of Airmen.
Air Combat Command aircraft that participated in the recent Heritage Flight training program included the F-35 Lightning II, F-22 Raptor and F-16 Fighting Falcon. The Davis-Monthan-based A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team also participated.
For more information on the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, click HERE.