Thunderbirds Launch 2021 Season With New Routine

Photo by: Zac Shaul – NHS

April 17th-18th at the Cocoa Beach Airshow

For the first time in forty years the Air Force Thunderbirds have a new routine. Spectators to the Airdotshow Cocoa Beach Airshow were the first to see the new performance publicly as the 2021 show season has officially launched. After the global pandemic forced the Tbirds to stay dark most of the last year they decided to revamp their performance. Their old show, a ninety minute performance was condensed into just a fifty minute show instead as their new routine aims to tell a story of patriotism, American ingenuity, teamwork, and inspiration. The performers hope to evoke emotions while better entertaining audiences. The U.S. AirForce also enlisted the help of some former Disney employees to weigh in on how to script the show in regards to keeping the crowds engaged. “The best action is going to be right there on the show line,” Thunderbirds commander Col. John Caldwell said. “The crowd will feel the thunder in their chest by hearing the jets roar, seeing the speed, seeing the motion, and seeing the precision of our team while flying 18 inches apart and project the power, pride, and professionalism of the U.S. Air Force to the American public.”

F22 Raptor Demo making some vape. Photo by: Zac Shaul – NHS

Our Thunderbirds were the headliner for the show but no where near the only stunning performance seen over the weekend. The F22 Raptor Demo team made an appearance both days, along with the A10 Warthog Demo team. Both planes did some aerial maneuvers to demonstrate the speeds, and capabilities of their planes for onlookers on the beach before joining together along with a WWII era P51 Mustang to perform the USAF Heritage Flight. The F22 Demo team flew out of Lakeland, Florida where the Sun N Fun 2021 event was being held the same days, so it would fly over, perform and fly back to perform for audiences there bringing the A10 Warthog Demo team along with him. The F22 Demo team is also a crowd favorite across the country and one of the most advanced fighter planes the U.S. military has to offer. With only 198 of these planes being built to date it is a nice treat that civilians should ever get to see one, let alone see it perform some of the maneuvers it is capable of pulling off. Two of the big crowd pleasers appeared to be somewhat rarely seen planes, a B-52 Bomber which has been in service for sixty years now and the B1-Bomber which is the worlds only bomber capable of achieving supersonic speeds. Also at the show were the Geico Skytypers, the C-17 Globemaster Demo team, Mike Wiskus and other aviation stunt plane performers, along with a few WWII era planes.

On Saturday the Cocoa Beach Airdotcom Airshow made national headlines as a TBM Avenger crash landed into the surf shortly after it’s performance at the show. Flown by the U.S. Navy during the second great war the plane was retired into an extensive service for the U.S. Forestry Service playing a role of fire bomber. In 2002 the plane was fully retired and acquired by the Valiant Air Command in Titusville where restorations were made until 2020 where it flew again for the first time in several years. During the show it suffered mechanical issues and the pilot did his best to get the plane back to Patrick Air Force base where it could safely land, yet when it became clear the Avenger could not make the base It came down for a soft water landing in the surf amongst a throng of stunned beach goers. Miraculously not a single person suffered harm during the landing.

Thunderbirds watched by beach goers.
Photo by: Zac Shaul – NHS

Overall the start to the 2021 air show season was a complete success thanks to the hard work and dedication of those who flew, those who maintain the aircraft flying and those who work/volunteer for the show. The sun was out and the skies were perfect on Saturday, and some low clouds caused a slight delay for some of Sunday’s performers but nothing was able to keep the show from going on. Spectators who paid for the center show viewing were treated to some of the most amazing performances the teams have to offer along with enjoy a day on the beach with food and refreshments. Airdotshow has several more shows coming up this season with the next being their Atlanta Airshow, you can find out more about when & where they will be having their shows at: and also re watch show performances in case you were unable to make one live.