B777fan
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Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 6:24 am

The Thunderbirds ended their show early today in Chicago after news reports said a part fell off one of the planes. All aircraft and crew are safe as far as I know.

I was taking pictures from my roof deck in an area away from show center. Something was up as the two solo pilots flew in a racetrack holding pattern - one end of which was over my house - for about 20 minutes. On their last circuit they just headed straight to Gary where the show planes are operating from.

We saw all six planes at the start of the routine and the diamond made one pass over my house. We never saw the diamond again and the solo's then started holding.

I'll post a follow up when I hear more.

B777Fan
 
CcrlR
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 8:31 am

I actually got the pictures of the plane with the missing part. Here is more information. I'll show them later.
http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_232171527.html

It fell into Lake Michigan. I was at the VIP Area when it happened.
"He was right, it is a screaming metal deathtrap!"-Cosmo (from the Fairly Oddparents)
 
B777fan
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 9:17 am

CcrlR,

Thanks for the link. I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures.

A recap of the video link on the page.

The starboard missle rail of the number 4 Thunderbird (slot in the diamond) fell off near show center into the lake.

All 6 planes and crew returned fine. The part fell in the airshow restricted area so no one on the ground (or on one of the hundreds of boats in the lake) was hit.

I also heard an interview from someone who thought the cause was a bird strike. Sounded very speculative.

No word yet on whether they will perform tomorrow.

I took a trip to Gary yesterday and caught them landing after returning from a practice session. I was going to go to the lake front tomorrow. Hope they still fly.
 
Bobster2
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 9:51 am

Somebody on dpreview.com posted pictures showing the missle rail coming off the plane. It also appears that the piece came off as a result of contact between two of the planes.

I will post the link here with a warning and disclaimer. The images all have big ugly copyright notices on them. If that upsets you, please don't look at them, and don't blame me, they're not mine. I also want to emphasize that the pictures do NOT prove that the planes made contact.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=14704922

I was at an airshow once, either Blue Angels or Thunderbirds, that was delayed while one of the pilots landed and changed planes due to a mechanical problem. I believe that is the normal procedure, they change planes if they have to, but they don't cancel. However, an incident with planes touching would certainly be cause for cancellation because they need to have an immediate investigation to figure out what went wrong.

Update: Larger pictures have been posted to show a pretty good shot of the planes touching. Like I said before, this isn't proof, but it sure the heck looks to me like they touched. The copyright notice is still there, but you can clearly see the important details.
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=14706028

[Edited 2005-08-21 03:05:25]
"I tell you this, no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn." Jim Morrison
 
B777fan
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 10:19 am

Yep. That looks like contact, followed by seperation.

I also noticed from my own shots when they went over my house and from these images that number 4 was a two seater today.

Looking back at some a.net Thunderbird shots it seems that mostly they use a one seater for number 4 but do occasionally slip in a two seater.

Does anybody know, is 4 supposed to be a one seater or two?
 
L-188
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 11:39 am

Quoting B777fan (Reply 2):
I also heard an interview from someone who thought the cause was a bird strike. Sounded very speculative

I fiirst heard about this and just figured Dailey's ho was complaining about the noise over the mayors house again!
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
CcrlR
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 12:42 pm

That's what I thought. Well, here's my photo, had to get it edited so you can see it. Fox News Channel had something on it.
http://www.geocities.com/miranova42/...rbids_incindent.html?1124594714440
"He was right, it is a screaming metal deathtrap!"-Cosmo (from the Fairly Oddparents)
 
B777fan
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 1:22 pm

Here is a Sun Times article with a nice little picture after the object fell off.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/airwater20.html

No new news but a nice picture.
 
B777fan
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 2:29 pm

I find this interesting. I looked at my pictures from my roof from today and yesterday.

As I posted above, the number 4 plane today was a two seater. When I looked at the shot from yesterday's morning practice, the number 4 plane was a one seater.

Yesterday's morning practice. One seater. (It's hard to tell - but it is)

Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Bob Meyers


Today's run before the rail came off. Two seater.

Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Bob Meyers


They also had an afternoon practice yesterday, but I don't have a shot of the number 4 plane as I was at the Gary airport and only got to see numbers 1, 2, and 3 land.

Here's another question then. Does anyone know what kind of variation in performance there is between the one seater and two seater?

What about just switching planes? A minor change in feel for the pilot seems like it could make a big difference in these tight quarters. Anybody have any idea?

Here's a nice one from the Gary airport landing yesterday afternoon. (It's number 2)


Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Bob Meyers


[Edited 2005-08-21 07:30:55]
 
vikkyvik
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 7:39 pm

I will say that from the photos posted, it looks like the starboard missile rail of the slot hit the upper surface of the left rear stabilizer of the starboard wing. That is, quite frankly, quite a feat. One must realize that the slot is the lowest in altitude of any plane in the diamond formation (I think in the delta as well). The slot would have to exceed the altitude of the wings, and then descend, and clip the horizontal stabilizer of the right wing. While technically possible, it just seems unlikely.

The first photo in this website:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=14706028

seems fake to me. Based on perspective/size comparisons, there seems to be no way the slot F-16 could be below the point F-16. But hell, what do I know?

~Vik
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
Bobster2
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 11:12 pm

From WBBM Newsradio 780: "Thunderbirds Grounded for Air and Water Show. Their participation cancelled Sunday because object fell from one jet over lake."
"I tell you this, no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn." Jim Morrison
 
Elvisisalive
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 21, 2005 11:46 pm

Was at the practice show on friday, the T-Birds ended the practice show 1 plane short. They flew the high show and about 10 minutes in the diamond formation only had 3 planes. Have not seen anything regarding it in the news.
 
B777fan
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Mon Aug 22, 2005 1:35 am

I was at the Gary Airport Friday when I took the picture of number 2 above. I had just moved into position to take these pictures after the two solo's landed. I was surprised to see only three planes 1,2,3 arrive. I thought I missed number four somehow.

I realize now that 4 must have arrived back very early - while I thought the practice was going on and I was driving around the field.

I wonder if that is what caused them to switch to the 2 seater for Saturday.
 
Bobster2
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Mon Aug 22, 2005 2:10 am

We now have a confirmation: "Chandler, who pilots Thunderbird No.1, said Thunderbird plane Nos. 3 and 4 touched as they flew in their signature diamond formation Saturday afternoon."

http://www.nbc5.com/news/4877816/det...ml?z=dp&dpswid=2265994&dppid=65195
"I tell you this, no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn." Jim Morrison
 
bravogolf
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Mon Aug 22, 2005 2:13 am

As it looks now, 4 will have the missile rail replaced and 3 will have the vertical stabilizer replaced.
 
L-188
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Mon Aug 22, 2005 4:17 am

Quoting B777fan (Reply 8):
What about just switching planes? A minor change in feel for the pilot seems like it could make a big difference in these tight quarters. Anybody have any idea?

THey do it more often then you think. Usually during at least one of the practice runs, they have a "Media" run where they run a reporter up in the airplane.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
dl757md
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:16 am

Quoting Vikkyvik (Reply 9):
Based on perspective/size comparisons, there seems to be no way the slot F-16 could be below the point F-16

It does appear that the wingspan of the the slot plane is larger than that of the lead. I think that this is due to the bank angle of the slot being greater than that of the lead at the moment this pic was taken. If you look carefully at the photo you linked the missile rail of slot airplane is being bent upwards by the left stabilator of the right wing airplane.

Dl757Md
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Bobster2
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Mon Aug 22, 2005 6:05 am

I'll venture a guess that #3 was out of position. He was too far left, too low, and too far back. It appeared that #4 was in the right place below #1, then #4 made a dramatic move to get away from #3 as they touched.

[Edited 2005-08-21 23:06:39]
"I tell you this, no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn." Jim Morrison
 
kbfispotter
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Mon Aug 22, 2005 1:44 pm

#4 was a two seater at the McChord AFB airshow on July 30th. Could be that they need pilot proficiency in the aircraft....

KBFIspotter
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HaveBlue
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Mon Aug 22, 2005 3:06 pm

The 2 seaters are flown to the show by the #7 or #8 pilots (who are the Liaison and Narrator iirc). In the day or 2 preceding the show various media people are given rides in the D model. If a spare TBird is needed, the 2 seater can fill that role too. In 20 years of going to airshows, I'd say at least 20% of the time either the Blues or TBirds were using a 2 seater as part of the show.

It has nothing at all to do with proficiency.
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Bobster2
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:56 am

There's now a great picture of the incident in the database.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Chris Ware

"I tell you this, no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn." Jim Morrison
 
B777fan
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Tue Aug 23, 2005 11:30 am

Hey Bobster2,

Thanks for all the good posts on this thread.

All the relevant articles, pictures and quotes. You should be in the news business.
 
JohnJ
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Tue Aug 23, 2005 11:51 pm

They were scheduled to fly this weekend (August 27/28) in Westfield, MA. A press release was issued by the ANG base to this effect - what are the chances the T-Birds will actually be back in the air by this weekend?

International Air Show Still Flying High
WESTFIELD, MA (Monday, August 22, 2005) The 104th Fighter Wing of the
Massachusetts Air National Guard announced that the air show scheduled
for Saturday, August 27th and Sunday, August 28th, is still very much
on track.

"A minor incident with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds in Chicago on
Saturday where two F-16s touched wingtips will not affect the planned
show here in Westfield", according to Col Tom Cantwell, 104th air show
coordinator. "We have a full day of flying and demonstrations planned
along with the exciting maneuvers of the full Thunderbird team and we
are confident the show will go on."
 
Navion
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Wed Aug 24, 2005 3:47 am

The Thunderbirds have now stated they will fly the Westfield show this weekend.

With regard to comments that it looks like #3 is out of position, I beg to differ. If you look carefully at #4, he was very far forward under #1 when the bump occurred, and once it occurred, his downward angle is more pronounced than #3 which is flying a good "paint" through the whole maneuver. I think #4 was the one who was "a little to snug" up in there.

Whatever the cause, the T-birds obviously feel comfortable that they've identified and rectified the problem.
 
B777fan
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Wed Aug 24, 2005 4:54 am

In the Cris Ware photo you can also see that #4 appears to be starboard of the diamond center.

Since he is below #1, with the geometry of this picture, his fuselage should not be in line with #1 in this image. Since it is, it implies he is to the right of #1.

For all the positions he could have been in, in relation to the diamond, too tight (forward), too high and too wide right, he looks like he might have been all of the above.

After making that judgment I wish to humbly acknowledge that I have no competence or skill to judge, just trying to understand out of curiosity.

Good to hear they will fly again this weekend.
 
drewfly
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:53 am

Quoting JohnJ (Reply 22):
International Air Show Still Flying High
WESTFIELD, MA (Monday, August 22, 2005) The 104th Fighter Wing of the
Massachusetts Air National Guard announced that the air show scheduled
for Saturday, August 27th and Sunday, August 28th, is still very much
on track.

"A minor incident with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds in Chicago on
Saturday where two F-16s touched wingtips will not affect the planned
show here in Westfield", according to Col Tom Cantwell, 104th air show
coordinator. "We have a full day of flying and demonstrations planned
along with the exciting maneuvers of the full Thunderbird team and we
are confident the show will go on."



Quoting Navion (Reply 23):
The Thunderbirds have now stated they will fly the Westfield show this weekend.

Thank God. This is my first airshow in 10 years, I can stop worrying. Anyone else heading up to Westfield? The diamond formation really is the center of their display, any chance they might skip it?
A-10 Thunderbolt II, ugly as hell, efficient as hell, would you like to meet my boomstick?
 
Bobster2
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Thu Aug 25, 2005 9:08 am

Keep in mind that the diamond formation is supposed to look like a diamond from the viewpoint of the spectators. I think that explains why #4 is to the right of #1, it creates the illusion that they are in a straight line when the planes are viewed from the ground at an angle. If #4 was perfectly aligned under #1, they would look crooked from the crowd's viewpoint. Also, I have seen pictures from other performances where #4 has his nose pulled forward under #1's tail, so that seems to be normal, it creates a very tight diamond. This is all just a guess based on watching a few airshows and looking at some pictures.
"I tell you this, no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn." Jim Morrison
 
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chrisnh
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Fri Aug 26, 2005 11:03 am

I am going to Westfield this Saturday, to see the Thunderbirds but MOSTLY to (finally) see a B2 bomber. I've never seen one in the air or on the ground, so I'm looking forward to it. The Thunderbirds--beyond the pilots themselves--represent a thoroughly professional team comprising top people at all skills. If Westfield had been scrubbed, it would imply a massively worrisome problem. Not to diminish what happened, only to point out that smart people run this ship and can deal with incidents like this and take corrective action.

Chris in NH
 
Hamfist
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 28, 2005 12:49 am

Quoting L-188 (Reply 15):
Quoting B777fan (Reply 8):
What about just switching planes? A minor change in feel for the pilot seems like it could make a big difference in these tight quarters. Anybody have any idea?

THey do it more often then you think. Usually during at least one of the practice runs, they have a "Media" run where they run a reporter up in the airplane.

L-188,
Yeah, they do run media rides at nearly every event, however, I've never heard of those media rides being a part of the practice formation (except maybe for some full-length programs about the team where the journalist went out to Nellis and did show specifically about the team).

Typically, the media ride is a solo jet running out to some nearby airspace to get the reporter some insight to the jet and some footage for the news broadcast. It's rare the team will allow someone to ride in the formation. I've seen that happen once, and it was when Gen Newton was the AETC commander--being a former team member (and probably because he had four stars on his shoulder), the team used a two-seater for the #4 jet during the Friday "closed" practice show so he could ride along.
 
SATL382G
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 28, 2005 5:00 am

This whole discussion about swapping airframes for the slot guy got me thinking. When did the T-Birds stop sporting a blackened vertical stabilizer on the slot jet? If the vert stab on #4 is always clean it's a lot easier to swap that jet out for mx -- just change out the number decal and go. Or have they never bothered blackening the tail artificially?

Is the #4 jet offset now to avoid blackening the tail?



edit: add pix

[Edited 2005-08-27 22:04:49]

[Edited 2005-08-27 22:06:56]
"There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as being shot at and missed" --Winston Churchill
 
JohnJ
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 28, 2005 11:05 am

Can't answer your question, but I'd completely forgotten about the black stab on #4. My brother and I had a complete set of Thunderbird F-4 1/72 scale models back in the 1970s, and I clearly remember the black fin (yes, we also had the complete Blue Angels set, complete with #7 and #8). The F-4 days were the absolute pinnacle for both the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels in my opinion - the coolest planes to have ever taken to the skies.
 
Bobster2
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Sun Aug 28, 2005 12:20 pm

The Chicago Sun-Times obtained a bootleg recording of radio transmissions between the Thunderbirds pilots and ground that was taped during and after the incident at the show last week. There is a link a to WAV with the complete recording. A ground spotter made a comment about #4 being deep, but he didn't seem to be sure of what happened. It sounds like the Thunderbirds' video of the performance did not show the incident, if I understood them correctly.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-thunder28.html

[Edited 2005-08-28 05:25:04]
"I tell you this, no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn." Jim Morrison
 
Navion
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RE: Thunderbirds End Show Early In Chicago Today

Mon Aug 29, 2005 12:55 am

Those idiots at the Sun-Times are so poor at knowing their subject that they actually mislabeled the photo in the photograph on their story linked in the post above. They first say Maj. Brian Burns is flying the slot aircraft which is WRONG, it's Major Steve Horton in Thunderbird #4. WORSE YET, Brian Burns has been medically grounded from the Thunderbirds and has been replaced by his predecessor Thunderbird #3, Major Chris Callaghan. My God, what lousy reporting.

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