All eyes will be on the skies Sept. 24-25 when the Pikes Peak Regional Airshow returns for the first time since 2019. Those fascinated by flight will be thrilled by more than 40 planes flying and on display, plus demonstrations by the Air Force Wings of Blue parachute team.
Gates open at 8 a.m. each day with the air show beginning at noon at the Colorado Springs Airport. You can browse the display planes and helicopters on the ground early. Afternoon flight events include a bomber parade, fighter jet parade, aerobatic shows, demonstrations and more.
The warbirds are the stars of the show, so here’s an introduction to some of the aircraft you’ll see performing at this year’s Pikes Peak Regional Airshow.
USAF F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team
Piloted by Kristin “Beo” Wolfe
The F-35A is the U.S. Air Force’s latest fifth-generation fighter. It will replace the U.S. Air Force’s aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II’s, which have been the primary fighter aircraft for more than 20 years,. The F-35A is an agile, versatile, high-performance, 9g capable multirole fighter that combines stealth, sensor fusion and unprecedented situational awareness.
Expect to see impressive maneuvers from the F-35A, piloted by Major Kristin “Beo” Wolfe, who is the Commander of the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team, 388th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The mission of the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration team is to showcase the unique aerial capabilities of the Air Force’s most advanced stealth fighter, as well as to highlight the history of the Air Force’s service through heritage formation flights.
U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler (F-18)
The EA-18G Growler is the specialized version of the F/A-18F Super Hornet for Electronic Warfare (EW) and Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), which replaced the aging EA-6B Prowlers.
The EA-18G Growler’s most distinguishable features are the special wingtips housing the AN/ALQ-218 wideband receivers and the AN/ALQ-99 tactical jamming pods, which will soon be replaced by the new Next-Gen Jammer.
In the last 15 years, the Growler’s service has spanned the globe in support of all major military actions. This plane is solely operated by the U.S. Navy.
Douglas SBD Dauntless
The SBD Dauntless entered service in 1940. It was borderline obsolete at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Surprisingly, the “slow but deadly” plane not only held its own, but became a “hero” aircraft of the war, most notably at the Battle of Midway in 1942, when four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk. The stout, sturdy Dauntless gave American pilots the ability and advantage of being able to dive at a nearly vertical 80 degrees on their bombing runs. And the Battle of Midway represented the first decisive naval victory over the forces of Imperial Japan.
This Dauntless is one of only three SBDs flying in the world today.
B-17 Texas Raiders
From its prewar inception, the B-17 was promoted as a strategic weapon. It was a relatively fast, high-flying, long-range bomber with heavy defensive armament at the expense of bomb load. It developed a reputation for toughness based upon stories and photos of badly damaged B-17s returning safely to base. The B-17 dropped more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II.
As of October 2019, only nine B-17 aircraft remained airworthy, though none of them were ever flown in combat. Dozens more are in storage or on static display. The oldest of these is a D-series flown in combat in the Pacific on the first day of the United States’ involvement in World War II.
Texas Raiders has been restored to her original B-17G configuration, and for over 50 years has been on her mission of education, inspiration, and remembrance.
Piloted by Steve Hinton
This twin-engine fighter was created to fly off of the decks of US Navy Midway-class aircraft carriers, but its low-speed performance characteristics made it generally unsuitable for carrier operations. Instead, it went on to be utilized as a land-based attack fighter by the United States Marine Corps instead. The Tigercat production came too late to see action in WWII. It did see some action in the Korean War.
This Tigercat is one of seven F7F’s flying in the world today. Its pilot is Steve Hinton, an American aviator who held a world speed record from 1979 to 1989 and won six Unlimited-class air races, including two national championships.
The Chance Vought aerospace firm designed and initially built the F-4U Corsair. Because of the demand during WWII, manufacturers including Chance Vought subcontracted additional production of their planes to other companies. The Brewster Corporation was one of the companies to open a production line for Chance Vought Corsairs, but only built 735 Corsairs. The operation was taken over by the Navy because of quality and schedule issues, and it eventually went out of business. The F3A-1 (Corsair Mk. III) was the designation for the Brewster-built F4U-1. This is the only flying example of a Brewster-built Corsair in the world.
During the last days of the Vietnam War when the North Vietnam forces were overrunning the country, panicked South Vietnamese pilots were fleeing the country. These pilots would commandeer anything that would fly to U.S. aircraft carriers, then ditch their planes in the sea. Others flew into Thailand and abandoned their aircraft.
A total of eleven Douglas Skyraiders made it to U-Tapao, Thailand. Two American pilots, Jack Drummond and Roger Youngblood, were able to bring four of those Skyraiders to Ta Khli Air Base, Thailand. After an epic and dangous journey, those four Skyraiders eventually made their way to the United States. This Skyraider was the last aircraft to depart Vietnam before the country was overrun.
Nearly 10,000 of these twin-engine medium bombers were built by the end of World War II. The B-25 saw action in every major theater of WWII. After the war ended, many remained in service, operating across four decades. The plane served as a medium-altitude bomber, low-level ground attack aircraft, and mast-level attack aircraft against ships.
The B-25 gained fame as the aircraft that struck Tokyo in the morale-boosting Doolittle Raid in early 1942. This Mitchell bomber, In the Mood, has accomplished five takeoffs from various aircraft carriers commemorating the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.
The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was a true workhorse of the Allied victory. Nicknamed the “Jug,” the P-47 was a heavyweight warbird that packed a devastating punch. The P-47 was a big plane, wider and longer than the P-51 and significantly heavier than the P-51 Mustang and British Spitfire. It was used as both a high-altitude escort fighter and a low-altitude fighter-bomber. And it was loved for its ability to absorb heavy battle damage and keep flying.
This Thunderbolt is one of approximately 14 P-47s flying in the world today.
Many other aircraft will be on display on the ground at the Pikes Peak Regional Airshow, and visitors can explore inside them. Helicopter fans will be excited to see the UH-60 Black Hawk, Boeing AH-64 Apache and Boeing CH-47F Chinook.
Proceeds from the airshow will benefit Colorado Springs local aviation museums: the National Museum of World War II Aviation, the Fort Carson 4th Infantry Division Museum and the Peterson Air and Space Museum.
Find all the details at pprairshow.org
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