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AIR SHOW: No Blue Angels, Thunderbirds in 2025

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels, debut the Super Delta formation, March 2, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cody Hendrix/Released)

The 2025 air show during the National Cherry Festival will not feature the U.S. Navy Blue Angels or the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the festival director disclosed today.

This year’s 2024 air show with the Blue Angels, however, will go on as planned, she said.

“The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels choose their show sites annually from many airshows around the county,” said Kat Paye, executive director of the Cherry Festival, in an e-mail to the Record-Eagle. “We were simply not chosen in 2025, but it’s been a complete honor to have been chosen in the past and we continue to look forward to future show opportunities.

“As for 2026, those airshow schedules will be announced in December of 2024 at the International Council of Airshows.”

Paye and others emphasized that air show decisions for 2025 were made in December 2023 at the ICAS convention in Las Vegas — long before the dispute between the Cherry Festival and Northwest Regional Airport Authority heated up three months ago.

After intense negotiations, that local disagreement was settled April 15 when both sides agreed to a new three-year agreement for the NCF air show that resolved outstanding issues, particularly the thorny problems of when and how high-performance aircraft can use TVC airport during the festival.

An air show without high-performance military service jets isn’t particularly unusual, Cherry Capital Airport Director Kevin Klein said.

“In previous years, such as 2003-2005, the air show would rotate between the Blue Angels one year and a general aviation show the next,” he noted. “The airport has no input in the application process for the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds. That’s really up to the Cherry Festival.”

Canada’s Snowbirds, an aerial performance team similar to the Blue Angels, are not available for the 2025 NCF, according to currently available scheduling information. However, other options abound.

Darryl Nelson, a county commissioner who serves on the airport authority board, said the Cherry Festival should explore new choices for 2025.

“If I were them, I’d take the opportunity to look at what else is out there in the aviation community,” Nelson said. “For example, we’ve had F-22 jets and Harrier jets in the past that were awesome to watch.”

Other options for next year’s air show could include a synchronized drone performance, perhaps at night, and expert parachute demonstrations, he said.

“The Detroit Lions did a drone show during the playoffs that was really cool to watch,” Klein said.

That illuminated drone show on Jan. 27 was produced by a Michigan-based company called Starlight Aerial Productions. Setting up the performance took four days and 400 drones to accomplish, according to pilot Matt Quinn. A video of that drone performance is available on YouTube at

Several private aviation firms also offer air show performances in rare or historic aircraft, such as the Soviet MiG-21 fighter jet, the Czech Aero L-39 Albatross jet trainer and various World War II vintage aircraft.

“As much as I admire our military pilots, sometimes the pilots of slower planes are even more talented,” Nelson said.

In the meantime, this year’s air show with the Blue Angels is on track: The aerobatic show is scheduled for Friday, June 28, to Sunday, June 30, at specific times. Circling and practice flights will be allowed on Thursday, June 27.


(c) 2024 The Record-Eagle

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.