Air show

Air show

An air show is an event at which aviators display their flying skills and the capabilities of their aircraft to spectators. Air shows without aerobatic displays, having only aircraft displayed parked on the ground, are called "static air shows".

Air shows are held for a variety of reasons. Some are held purely as a business venture or as a trade event where aircraft, avionics and other services are promoted to potential customers. Many air shows are held is support of local, national or military charities. Military air firms often organise air shows at military airfields as a public relations exercise to thank the local community, promote military careers and raise the profile of the military.

Air show "seasons" vary around the world. Whereas the US enjoys a long season that generally runs from March to November, other areas often have much shorter seasons. The European season usually starts in late April or Early May and is usually over by mid October. The Middle East, Australia and New Zealand hold their events between January and March. However, for many acts the "off season" does not mean a period of inactivity. Essential maintenance and practicing is often performed over the winter.

The type of displays seen at an event are constrained by a number of factors, including the weather and visibility. Most aviation authorities now publish rules and guidance on minimum display heights and criteria for differing conditions. Aside from the weather, local airspace restrictions are also important considerations for the display organisers and pilots. Most display items will plan "full," "rolling" and "flat" display for varying weather and airspace conditions.

The types of shows vary greatly. Some are large scale military events with large flying displays and ground exhibitions while others held at small local airstrips can often feature just one or two hours of flying with just a few stalls on the ground. Air Displays can be held during day or night with the latter becoming increasingly popular. Shows don't always take place over airfields; some have been held over the grounds of stately homes or castles and over the sea at coastal resorts. "Flying proms" are displays that are held in conjunction with classic music concerts with the aircraft flying to live musical performances.


Before the Second World War, air shows were associated with long distance air races, often lasting many days and covering thousands of miles. While the Reno Air Races keep this tradition alive, most air shows today primarily feature a series of aerial demos of short duration.

Most air shows will feature warbirds, aerobatics, and demonstrations of modern military aircraft, and many air shows offer a variety of other aeronautical attractions as well, such as wing-walking, radio-controlled aircraft, water/slurry drops from firefighting aircraft, simulated helicopter rescues and sky diving.

Specialist aerobatic aircraft have powerful piston engines, light weight and big control surfaces, making them capable of very high roll rates and accelerations. A skilled pilot will be able to climb vertically, perform very tight turns, tumble his aircraft end-over-end and perform manoeuvres during loops.

Solo military jet demos, also known as tactical demos, feature one aircraft, usually a strike fighter or an advanced trainer. The demonstration focuses on the capabilities of modern aircraft used in combat operations. The display will usually demonstrate the aircraft's very short (and often very loud) takeoff rolls, fast speeds, slow approach speeds, as well as their ability to quickly make tight turns, to climb quickly, and their ability to be precisely controlled at a large range of speeds. Manoeuvres include aileron rolls, barrel rolls, hesitation rolls, Cuban-8s, tight turns, high-alpha flight, a high-speed pass, double Immelmans, and touch-and-gos. Tactical demos may include simulated bomb drops, sometimes with pyrotechnics on the ground for effect. Aircraft with special characteristics that give them unique capabilities will often display those in their demos; For example, Russian fighters with Thrust vectoring may be used to perform Pugachev's Cobra or the Kulbit, among other difficult maneuvers that cannot be performed by other aircraft. Similarly, an F-22 pilot may hover his jet in the air with the nose pointed straight up, a Harrier or Osprey pilot may perform a vertical landing or vertical takeoff, etc.


Air shows present some risk to spectators and aviators. Accidents occur, sometimes with a large loss of life, such as the 1988 disaster at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and the 2002 air show crash at Lviv, Ukraine. Because of these accidents, the various aviation authorities around the world have created set rules and guidance for those running and participating in air displays. Air displays are often monitored by aviation authorities to insure safe procedures remain in place and working

These rules govern the distance to the crowds that aircraft must fly. These vary according to the rating of the pilot/crew, the type of aircraft and the way the aircraft is being flown. For instance, slower lighter aircraft are usually allowed to closer and lower to the crowd that larger, faster types. Also, a fighter jet flying straight and level will be able to do so closer to the crowd and lower than if it were performing a roll or a loop.

Pilots can get authorisations for differing types of displays (i.e. Limbo flying, basic aerobatics to unlimited aerobatics) and to differing minimum base heights above the ground. To gain such authorisations, the pilots will have to demonstrate to an examiner that they can safely perform to those limits without endangering themselves, ground crew or spectators.

Despite display rules and guidances, accidents have continued to happen. However, air show accidents are rare and where there is proper supervision air shows have impressive safety records. Each year, organisations such as [ The International Council of Air Shows] and [ The European Airshow Council] meet and discuss various subjects including air show safety where accidents are discussed and lessons learnt.

Historical air shows

*1909 The "Internationale Luftschiffahrt-Ausstellung" was first held in Frankfurt/Main, Germany from 1909-07-10 to 1909-10-17, later becoming the "Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung (ILA)" and as such can lay claim to being the oldest aviation show in the world.
*1909 Reims Air Meet in France in August 1909. A key aviator was Glenn Curtiss who won the Gordon Bennett Cup. This show inspired John Moisant.
*1910 Los Angeles International Air Meet at Dominguez Field from 1910-01-10 to 1910-01-20. Participants included: Glenn Curtiss; Charles Hamilton; Lincoln Beachey; and Louis Paulhan. The Los Angeles Times called it "one of the greatest public events in the history of the West."
*1910 Harvard-Boston Aero Meet at the Harvard Aviation Field in Atlantic, Massachusetts, U.S., from 1910-09-03 to 1910-09-13. It was the first major air event in the Eastern United States and offered $90,000 in prizes and appearance fees. Participants included: The Wright brothers and the Glenn Curtiss exhibition teams; and Claude Grahame-White. This show inspired: Harriet Quimby
*1910 Belmont International Aviation Tournament offered approximately $75,000 in prize money. Participants included: Count Jacques de Lesseps; Roland Garros; Claude Grahame-White; Glenn Curtiss; John Moisant; Arch Hoxsey; Ralph Johnstone; and Charles Hamilton.
*1925-1931 Ford National Reliability Air Tour Offering the Edsel B. Ford Trophy, it was inscribed, "This trophy is offered to encourage the up-building of commercial aviation as a medium of transportation."

Major air shows

*The world's largest military air show is the Royal International Air Tattoo (RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom), held annually in July. The RIAT gathers military aircraft and military display teams from all over Europe, and sometimes Asia and the United states.
*The annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh air show (Oshkosh, Wisconsin), organized by the Experimental Aircraft Association, is attended by more people and by more aircraft than any other air show. The week-long event, typically in late July or early August, focuses on experimental aircraft, such as homebuilts and warbirds, but will also feature aerobatics acts, military aircraft, and airliners. The air show also includes talks by influential people in aviation, as well as a large area with booths where aircraft, aircraft parts, aircraft services, and aircraft memorabilia are traded. The other major yearly air show organized by the EAA is "Sun 'n Fun", held every April at Lakeland, Florida.
*Air shows in the United States that display a wide variety of modern military aircraft (helicopters, jet fighters, bombers, cargo aircraft, stealth aircraft, etc) include Andrews AFB every May, NAS Oceana every September, Langley AFB every spring,MCAS Miramar every October, and Aviation Nation at Nellis AFB every November. Each of these air shows feature nearly all frontline aircraft in service with the U.S. armed forces. The annual air show and open house held every October at Edwards AFB also features prototypes, spaceplanes, proof-of-concept demonstrators, rarely-seen stealth airplanes, and other futuristic experimental aircraft, in addition to most frontline aircraft types in service with the US Air Force.
*The US air shows showing warbirds include the Planes of Fame air show held at Chino each May, and the "Thunder Over Michigan" show at Willow Run each August. The British equivalents are the three or four air shows held in Duxford throughout the year, especially the Flying Legends air show in July. The Oshkosh air show, mentioned above, also features a large number and variety of warbirds.
*The two largest air and aerospace trade shows are the Le Bourget Air Show (Paris, France), held in June on odd-numbered years.The smaller Farnborough Airshow (Farnborough, Britain), held in July on even-numbered years. In addition to displays for the general public, these two shows have important showcases and display halls for professionals. They are one of the occasions when aerospace companies announce deals.
*Asian Aerospace, previously the third largest in the world, has been held in Singapore since its inception in 1981, although disagreements over a movement of the exhibition venue will see it move to Hong Kong in 2008. A new show, the Singapore Airshow [] , will take its place in Singapore from the same year in February.
*Aero India is a biennial air show, held in Bangalore, India at he Yelahanka Air force station. Organised by the Ministry of Defense in association with DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organisation) and ISRO, it was first held in the year 1996 and since then has become the 4th largest air show in the world. The 2009 show is attracting over 600 international and Indian companies, where the Indian Air force will also be flying its vintage air craft.
*The Singapore Airshow [] , slated to be Asia's largest air show, will be held in February on even-numbered years, at the new Changi Exhibition Centre which is purpose-built for aviation and aerospace exhibitions.
*The biggest air show and aerospace trade show in Russia is MAKS, held at Zhukovskiy in June. MAKS often features multiple jet display teams from western Europe, and Russia alone has an Su-27 team, a MiG-29 team, and an L-39 team, all of whom perform demos at MAKS.
*The world's oldest air show is the Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung Berlin (ILA) in Berlin, Germany going back to 1909.
*Air shows held at the [ Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome] display the largest collection of flying antique airplanes in the United States, including several aircraft from World War 1, a handful of aircraft from the 1909-1913 period, and many aircraft from the 1920s.
*The [ Battle Creek's Field of Flight Airshow & Balloon Festival] held in Battle Creek, Michigan every July (June-July) is known as America's largest 4th of July Airshow normally displaying Great Stunts, Aerobatic Performances, Military Jets and normally a Jet Team.Fact|date=December 2007
*China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, largest air show in the People's Republic of China.Fact|date=December 2007
* Sunderland International Airshow held in Sunderland, England is the largest free air show in Europe [] .Southend Airshow, Essex England is Europe's longest running free air show, it started in 1986 and boasts some of the largest attendance figures for any two day air show in the UK.Fact|date=December 2007
* Australian International Airshow which is held every two years at Avalon Airport is said to be the biggest air show in the Southern Hemisphere.Fact|date=December 2007LIMA Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace air show: Langkawi Malaysia
*FIDAE This fair is held in Chile in even-numbered years, it features more then 300 expositors and is the major one in Latin America. The fair is located near the Arturo Merino Benitez international airport, and is over 30 years old.

ee also

* Flypast
* List of airshow accidents

External links

Air show calendar

* [ US and World Air show Calendar]
* [ European Airshow calendar ]
* [ UK Airshow Calendar 2008]

Miscellaneous air show websites

* [ Canadian Air show Resource]
* [ South Africa Air shows]
* [ Flightline UK - UK Airshow Information and Photography]
* [ AirshowBuzz]
* [ X-team Airshows]
* [ Air shows in the UK]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • air show — air ,show noun count an event at which people watch airplanes fly and perform impressive movements in the sky …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • air show — noun : an exhibition of aircraft and aviation skills * * * air show UK US noun [countable] [singular air show plural air shows] an event at which people watch planes fly and perform impressive movements in the sky …   Useful english dictionary

  • air show — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms air show : singular air show plural air shows an event at which people watch planes fly and perform impressive movements in the sky …   English dictionary

  • air show — n. to hold, put on, stage an air show * * * [ eəˌʃəʊ] put on stage an air show to hold …   Combinatory dictionary

  • air show — /ˈɛə ʃoʊ/ (say air shoh) noun an exhibition of aircraft, often including a display of air formations and stunts. Also, airshow …  

  • air show — noun Date: 1939 an exhibition of aircraft and aviation skills …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • air show — noun a public display of stunt flying, aerobatics, and historical aircraft …   Wiktionary

  • air show — see airshow …   English dictionary

  • air show — performance of airplanes in the sky …   English contemporary dictionary

  • air show — A business use of an insured aircraft by an insured corporation engaged in flying services. 29A Am J Rev ed. Ins § 1348 …   Ballentine's law dictionary

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