Tuskegee Airmen Museum Airshow


The Tuskegee Airmen River Days Airshow will again bring excitement to the Detroit Riverfront on Friday (1:00), Saturday (3:30), and Sunday (3:30) June 21-23. This is the sixth year for the show’s surface-waivered performances. This is the only airshow in Michigan that features local performers as a majority of its acts. It’s truly a show by Detroit, for Detroit.

The show is slated to feature military and civilian fly-bys, demonstrations, and aerobatic performances.

The following are scheduled to perform:

Billy Werth – Pitts S-2C

Growing up in an Air Force family, Billy has been around some sort of airplane his whole life. He started flying in 1988 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Aviation Technology from Indiana State University in 1994. In 1992 he started teaching aerobatics and has been hooked ever since. In 1997 he graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training and started flying the KC-135R for the Air Force Reserve. He was hired by Chautauqua Airlines in 2001 and is now a Captain on the Embraer 145, based in Indianapolis. Billy has over 6,000 hours of flight time in 20 different aircraft, with 600 of it teaching folks how to fly upside down.

Billy flies the mighty Pitts S-2C. It’s a four aileron, two-seat, factory-built, symmetric airfoil, 260 hp (194 kW) Lycoming driving constant speed three-blade propeller, current production model. The aircraft is an evolution of the S-2B model, with improved ailerons and rudder, flat bottom fuselage, lower profile bungee gear, better inverted handling, and certified for +6 -5g. It is in production in 2008 by Aviat Aircraft.

Look for Billy flying upside down and trailing smoke visible for miles over the city.

U.S. Air Force 14th Flying Training Wing – Columbus AFB, Mississippi – Four-ship T-6A Texan II Formation (Friday only)

The T-6A Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat primary trainer designed to train Joint Primary Pilot Training, or JPPT, students in basic flying skills common to U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots.

Produced by Raytheon Aircraft, the T-6A Texan II is a military trainer version of Raytheon's Beech/Pilatus PC-9 Mk II.

Stepped-tandem seating in the single cockpit places one crewmember in front of the other, with the student and instructor positions being interchangeable. A pilot may also fly the aircraft alone from the front seat. Pilots enter the T-6A cockpit through a side-opening, one-piece canopy that has demonstrated resistance to bird strikes at speeds up to 270 knots.

The T-6A has a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turbo-prop engine that delivers 1,100 horsepower. Because of its excellent thrust-to-weight ratio, the aircraft can perform an initial climb of 3,100 feet (944.8 meters) per minute and can reach 18,000 feet (5,486.4 meters) in less than six minutes.

The aircraft is fully aerobatic and features a pressurized cockpit with an anti-G system, ejection seat and an advanced avionics package with sunlight-readable liquid crystal displays.

Before being formally named in 1997, the T-6A was identified in a 1989 Department of Defense Trainer Aircraft Master Plan as the aircraft portion of the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System, or JPATS. The system includes a suite of simulators, training devices and a training integration management system.

On Feb. 5, 1996, Raytheon was awarded the JPATS acquisition and support contracts. The first operational T-6A arrived at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in May 2000. The full rate production contract was awarded in December 2001. Air Force production of the aircraft was completed in 2010.

The T-6A is used to train JPPT students, providing the basic skills necessary to progress to one of four training tracks: the Air Force bomber-fighter or the Navy strike track, the Air Force airlift-tanker or Navy maritime track, the Air Force or Navy turboprop track and the Air Force-Navy helicopter track.

Instructor pilot training in the T-6A began at Randolph AFB in 2000. JPPT began in October 2001 at Moody AFB, Ga., and is currently at Columbus AFB, Miss., Vance AFB, Okla, and Laughlin AFB and Sheppard AFB in Texas. 

General Characteristics

Primary Function: Entry-level trainer in joint primary pilot training

Builder: Raytheon Aircraft Co.

Powerplant: 1,100 horsepower Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turbo-prop engine

Wingspan: 33.5 feet (10.19 meters)

Length: 33.4 feet (10.16 meters)

Height: 10.7 feet (3.23 meters)

Speed: 320 miles per hour

Standard Basic Empty Weight: 6,500 pounds (2,955 kilograms)

Ceiling: 31,000 feet (9448.8 meters)

Range: 900 nautical miles (1,667 kilometers)

Crew: Two, student pilot and instructor pilot

Armament: None

Date Deployed: May 2000

Unit Cost: $4.272 million

Inventory: Active force, 446


Team Tuskegee – TG-7A Motorglider Formation

The Schewizer SGM 2-37 (designated the TG-7A Terrazzo Falcon by the U.S. Air Force Academy) is a touring motorglider. It is 27.5 feet long and it has a 59.5-foot wingspan. It is essentially a Piper Tomahawk firewall-forward and a composite of other Schweizer glider parts from the firewall back – a fact that led to the “Franken-Glider” title of an episode of The Aviators(Season 6, Episode 8) that featured the Tuskegee team. It seats two aircrew side by side and, because the only throttle is in the middle of the panel, the PIC sits in the right seat. Glide performance of 19:1 is worse than most other gliders (which often exceed 28:1) but better than most airplanes (9:1 for many GA airplanes).

The museum took delivery of three TG-7As from the academy in 2002 and added a fourth in 2015. The academy used the aircraft between 1983 and 2002 for orientation flights and to develop glider landing skills. (You can perform many more operations per hour if you don’t have to wait for a tow plane for each launch.) The museum uses them to provide Young Eagles rides and flight training to kids in Detroit and to fly airshows to raise awareness of the museum.

The 112 hp O-235 L2C engine pulls the TG-7A at a cruise speed of about 90 mph. Between the single-pilot level stall speed of 53 mph and Vne of 136 mph, most demo maneuvering takes place between 65 mph and 100 mph.

Formation flight in the TG-7A is different from formation flight in many other aircrafts. Long wings, very little excess power, and other factors have caused Team Tuskegee pilots to explore elements of formation skills that aren’t as familiar to most formation pilots.

With a Lead power setting of 2,200 RPM, there’s very little room between there and 2,600 maximum RPM to recover from sucked positions. Every formation pilot uses geometry and thinks ahead to achieve and maintain position, but TG-7A drivers must read Lead’s mind to get in and stay in. The average patched Team Tuskegee pilot has more than 100 hours in formation with other team members and that helps with the mind-reading part.

Flying closer (within reason) is easier in any aircraft, but particularly so in the TG-7A. The four-ship formation is 240 feet wide and it’s not hard to think of opposite sides of the fingertip or echelon formation as flying in different weather systems (if not ZIP Codes).

The slow speed of the TG-7A makes airshow demos interesting to plan and execute. Being slow keeps the formation in front of the crowd longer on passes, but repositioning takes time and it’s a constant challenge to keep things happening at show center.

“The Impossible Turn” is actually a normal operation for gliders and it is a part of Team Tuskegee’s airshow demo. A solo ship can perform 180-degree takeoff aborts from as little as 350 AGL. Most unpowered gliders can do so from 200 AGL and 180 aborts are a part of the FAA glider PTS. (Non-glider drivers: Don’t try this at home.)

Although the team usually flies formation demos in the TG-7As with the engine running from takeoff to touchdown, they can be flown engine-off in formation using dive brakes just like a throttle.

The Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum team has five RPA Lead pilots and two RPA Wingmen, one of whom also holds a NATA Wing card Flying the museum’s T-6.


Canadian Historical Aircraft Association – Chipmunk

The de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk is a tandem, two-seat, single-engine primary trainer aircraft which was the standard primary trainer for the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Air Force and several other air forces throughout much of the post-second World War years.  The De Havilland Chipmunk was the first true postwar aviation project of De Havilland Canada.Today, over 500 DHC-1 Chipmunk (affectionately known as "Chippie") airframes remain airworthy with more being rebuilt every year.

Ch2A is proud to own two flying examples of this exceptional aircraft. Visit us at #7 E.F.T.S. and book your flight now in one of our "Chippies".


Tuskegee Airmen T-6 and Canadian Historical Aircraft Association Harvard

Evolved from the BT-9 trainer, the AT-6 (AT for “advanced trainer”, later shortened to just T-6) is a high-performance trainer with more power and retractable landing gear.  The Canadian versions are known as “Harvards.” It had an altered wing, swept slightly forward compared to the BT-9 and Yale to move the center of lift forward and correct difficult stalling characteristics of the earlier machines.  The T-6 became the main advanced trainer for all of the U.S. services and the British Commonwealth during World War II, with production continuing after the war and amounting to 15,495 aircraft.  Besides North American Aviation, the plane was build under license by Canadian Car & Foundry in Fort William, Ontario, now part of the city of Thunder Bay.

T-6s used by the British, whether built in the U.S. or Canada, were named “Harvards” after Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, pursuant to British practice of naming American-designed trainers after American colleges. The Navy designated their T-6s as SNJs.

T-6s enjoyed a long period of postwar service in the U.S., Canada and many other countries.  Newly developed versions were built into the 1950s, and older aircraft sometimes went through a modification program to later specifications, often acquiring new identities and complicating the question of exactly how many T-6 series aircraft were built.  Dozens of countries in every part of the world operated T-6s, with the last ones being retired from use as military trainers only in the 1990s.

The T-6 is challenging to fly but most pilots do not consider it unfairly so.  It is described as an honest airplane in the sense that its behaviors are predictable, but it requires constant attention and alertness.  This made it an ideal trainer for pilots whose next planes would be either piston or jet-powered fighters.  Generally, most fighters are said to be easier to handle than the T-6, so pilots transitioning to these aircraft can focus on getting used to their higher performance and the need to anticipate and react more quickly to avoid “getting behind” the airplane.

Most models of T-6 could be fitted with forward facing and/or rear cockpit armament which made them suitable not only for gunnery training, but also for combat applications where no purpose-designed combat aircraft was available.  They could also be fitted with the ability to drop small bombs or launch unguided rockets.  T-6s saw combat, mainly as ground support aircraft, at least through the 1970s.  The U.S. used them as “forward air control” aircraft in the Korean and to some extent the Vietnamese wars, and they were used in smaller conflicts and civil wars in many countries.

T-6s are very plentiful among civilian operators, especially in North America, but also in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, with hundreds still flying. They were released into the civilian market as surplus by a variety of air arms in the 1960s and 1970s and were affordable and enjoyable enough to be of immediate interest to sport pilots as well as to operators of aerial spraying and other services. T-6s and Harvards from the U.S., Canada, Spain, South Africa and Portugal are among those that can be seen at airshows or local airports today.  T-6s are popular performers at airshows because they are fully aerobatic but not so fast that they stray outside of the airport “box” during a performance.  They emit a distinctive loud snarl caused by the fact that their ungeared engines spin the propellers so fast that the propeller blade tips approach the speed of sound at high throttle settings, creating a continuous mini-sonic-boom sometimes called a “sonic snap”.  Any group of restored T-6/SNJ/Harvard types is usually a colorful bunch because of the tradition of painting military trainers in high-visibility colors and the wide range of nations and time periods spanned by the type’s service.