2018 Event Review

Mountain Home AFB Gunfighter Skies - June 2-3, 2018

Location: Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho
Admission: FREE
Parking: FREE on-site
Value: Excellent
Rating out of 10: 8.5

 
Montain Home AFB 2018 Gunfighter Skies

On June 2-3, Gunfighter Skies 2018 took place at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. This event celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the base and the 30th Anniversary of the F-15E Strike Eagle which is stationed there. Highlighting the airshow was the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, F-22 Raptor Demo Team, and much more. Unfortunately, on Saturday, the remainder of the show was cancelled after Dan Buchanan was tragically killed in an accident in his Special Effects Hang Glider. The show returned Sunday and paid tribute to Dan.

Just before Dan Buchanan was tragically killed in an accident in his Special Effects Hang Glider.
 

Gates opened at 8:30 am both days. Spectators had the opportunity to visit the multiple static display aircraft and exhibits on the ground. Among those static displays were rare foreign military aircraft including two F-16 Fighting Falcons from Belgium, a C-130 Hercules from Australia, and an F-15SG Strike Eagle from Singapore which is stationed at Mountain Home for pilot training.


Flying activities officially kicked off at 10:30 am with the singing of the National Anthem with a jump by the Wings of Blue Parachute Team. Following the jumpers, a 4-ship formation of F-15E Strike Eagles flew over a stunning wall of fire. After the opening ceremonies, Team Mountain Home showcased a simulated joint assault demonstration featuring the four F-15Es that flew over and two A-10s from the Idaho Air National Guard out of Boise The demonstration featured many incredible maneuvers including high speed passes and lots of flare drops. Another major Air Force highlight of the show was a tactical demonstration by the Boeing C-17 Globemaster based out of Altus AFB, Oklahoma. The C-17 showcased multiple capabilities of the aircraft including a short runway takeoff and tight turns.

 

The show also featured a nice variety of aerobatic performances. Those included Brad Wursten in his MXS-R monoplane who performed with Dan Buchanan prior to his fatal accident, Nathan Hammond in his Super Chipmunk, and Steve Bennett in his Christen Eagle biplane. Perhaps the most spectacular of them all was Jeff Boerboon who piloted his rare Yak-110 twin aircraft. This plane made it's airshow debut in Mountain Home and featured a jet engine in the middle with two Yak-55 fuselages. There were a couple great warbird performances in the air including Tora Tora Tora. Tora Tora Tora is a reenactment of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and featured multiple warbirds painted to replicate Japanese fighters and bombers. The simulation included a bunch of pyro and low level attack passes by the aircraft. Mark Peterson also performed an aerobatic routine in his North American P-51 Mustang known as "Hell-Er Bust."

Making it's debut in the state of Idaho was the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team from Langley AFB, Virginia. The F-22 was piloted by Maj. Paul "Loco" Lopez and featured multiple super maneuver capabilities of the aircraft including tight turns, tail slides, and power loops. Following the solo display, Maj. Lopez teamed up with a P-51 Mustang for the Heritage Flight. The Heritage Flight is a rare formation of fighter aircraft past and present that commemorates the history of the U.S. Air Force. Concluding the flying activities was the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. The team, lead by Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, featured a wide variety of maneuvers including multiple formation flights, solo head on passes, and crowd tingling sneak passes. After the aerial demonstration, the team walked over to the crowd line to meet fans and sign autographs. After the conclusion of the flying, spectators were able to continue viewing the multiple static displays and ground exhibits before gates closed at 5:00 pm. Special thanks to the volunteers, spectators, performers, sponsors, and Team Mountain Home for making Gunfighter Skies 2018 a success!

Performing Participants:

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds (Saturday Performance Cancelled after Crash)

F-22 Raptor Demo Team & Heritage Flight with P-51 (Saturday Performance Cancelled after Crash)

U.S. Air Force Combined Arms Demo: x4 F-15E, x2 A-10C C-17 Globemaster III Demo

U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue Jump

Team Tora Tora Tora Mark Peterson

P-51 Mustang "Hell-Er Bust" Jeff Boerboon

Yak-110 Next Level Aerobatics (Saturday Performance Cancelled after Crash)

Brad Wursten MXS-R Aerobatics Steve Bennett

Christen Eagle Aerobatics Nathan Hammond

Ghost Rider Airshows Dan Buchanan - Special Effects Hang Glider **In Loving Memory**

Performing Participants:

2x F-35A Lightning II - 56th Fighter Wing, Luke AFB, AZ

x2 F-16MLU Fighting Falcon - 349 Fighter Squadron, Belgian Air Force

F-15E Strike Eagle - 366th Fighter Wing, Mountain Home AFB, ID

F-15SG Strike Eagle - 428th Fighter Squadron, Republic of Singapore Air Force

A-10C Thunderbolt II - 124th Fighter Wing, Gowen Field ANGB, ID

T-38C Talon - Vietnam War Livery, 12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph AFB, TX

B-1B Lancer - 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth AFB, SD

B-52H Stratofortress - 5th Bomb Wing, Minot AFB, ND

C-17A Globemaster III - 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston AFB, SC

KC-135R Stratotanker - 22d Air Refueling Wing, McConnell AFB, KS

T-6 Texan II - 12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph AFB, TX

C-130J Super Hercules - Royal Australian Air Force


Report and photography by Geoffrey Arnwine for The Aviation Magazine

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Images of Luke Days 2018
 
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