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10 upcoming air shows that will blow your hair back

A legendary spy plane, fearsome fighter jets and a gigantic airlifter are just some of the stars of air show...

Posted: Aug 16, 2018 4:23 PM
Updated: Aug 16, 2018 4:23 PM

A legendary spy plane, fearsome fighter jets and a gigantic airlifter are just some of the stars of air shows this summer and fall across the United States and Canada.

As the US marks National Aviation Day on August 19, there aren't many better ways to celebrate aviation than by experiencing an air show -- a thrilling byproduct of an industry that gives us gravity-defying machines and the men and women who fly them.

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From Madras, Oregon, to Homestead, Florida -- and many destinations in between -- crowds will flip out as planes fly barrel rolls, loops, low passes and tight turns just a few thousand feet above the ground.

If you haven't witnessed the beauty of the US Navy Blue Angels performing a four-plane diamond roll, or watched aerobatic pilot Sean D. Tucker cut a ribbon on the ground with his airplane wing -- do it. You're in for a treat.

In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed August 19 National Aviation Day to honor OG aviator Orville Wright on his birthday. What would Orville think about how aviation has changed since the days of the Wright brothers?

A multimillion dollar industry

An estimated 10-12 million people attend air shows in the US and Canada every year, according to the International Council of Air Shows, raking in about $110 million for organizers.

The king of American air shows -- the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture last month in Oshkosh, Wisconsin -- hosted approximately 601,000 people and more than 10,000 aircraft.

But if you missed Oshkosh -- not to worry. There are still many amazing feats of flying to witness between now and the end of air show season.

For example, air shows are happening this weekend in Chicago, Edmonton, Alberta, and Camarillo, California -- to name a few. For details, see the ICAS website.

Meanwhile, below are 10 air shows happening in the coming months some of which are hopefully are taking place near you:

1.Illinois: Chicago Air and Water Show

When: August 18-19, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Don't miss: The US Air Force Thunderbirds elite flight demonstration team puts on an amazing display of precision flying. Their jet of choice: the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Among the Thunderbirds' breathtaking maneuvers is the Reflection Pass -- when two jets fly one over the other -- with the lower jet flying upside down. (Take a look at more Thunderbirds maneuvers online.)

Where to watch: North Avenue Beach

2. New Jersey: Atlantic City Airshow

When: August 22, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Don't miss: The Canadian Forces Snowbirds 431 Air Demonstration Squadron is truly a pleasure to watch. These elite pilots fly old-school Canadair CT-114 Tutor jets -- a single-engine, T-tail trainer that dates back to the 1960s. They also perform with nine planes, instead of the typical six-plane team. Signature flying formations include the Big Diamond.

Where to watch: Beaches and the boardwalk

3. Toronto, Ontario: Canadian International Air Show

When: September 1-3, noon-3 p.m.

Don't miss: The Pentagon's newest and most technologically sophisticated fighter jet -- the F-35 Lightning -- makes an appearance with the Heritage Flight Team. If you've never seen an F-35 fly, you should. Based on previous performances, possible thrilling maneuvers could include near-vertical ascent, spirals and inverted flight.

Where to watch: CNE Grounds

4. Ohio: Cleveland National Air Show

When: September 1-3, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Don't miss: This may be your last chance to see famed aerobatic pilot Sean D. Tucker perform solo. After a 40-year career, Tucker announced plans to retire from solo aerobatics at the end of this season. He plans to donate his custom Oracle Challenger III to the Smithsonian.

Where to watch: Burke Lakefront Airport

5. New York: New York Air Show

When: September 15-16, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Don't miss: If you've never seen a really large jet like a C-17 Globemaster airlifter perform at an air show, you're in for a treat. A flight demonstration by a C-17 is like a pro-wrestler dancing a ballet. You're watching a 5-story airplane that weighs more than a quarter million pounds and has a wingspan of nearly 170 feet execute turns and passes very close to the airfield. It's truly jaw-dropping.

Where to watch: Stewart International Airport

6. Southern California: MCAS Miramar Air Show

When: September 28-30, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Don't miss: Here's a chance to catch a rare glimpse of a history-making jet: the U-2 Dragon Lady. Lockheed's famous Skunkworks facility designed this spy plane in the 1950s to fly to ultra-high altitudes -- more than 13 miles up -- and out of sight. They fly so close to the edge of space that U-2 pilots wear pressurized flight suits, similar to astronauts. The jet gained fame in 1960 when a U-2 was shot down by the Soviets -- as portrayed in the 2015 film "Bridge of Spies." Today's U-2s are 40% larger than the original models.

Where to watch: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California

7. Maryland: Maryland Fleet Week and Airshow

When: October 6-7, noon-4 p.m.

Don't miss: The GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team uses their North American SNJ-2 propeller airplanes to write messages in the sky. In less than two minutes, the Skytypers can release smoke, spelling 20 to 25 characters. A message can be from 2 to 5 miles long and as big as the Empire State Building. It's all coordinated by the lead pilot -- who carries a small computer device that's pre-loaded with messages. The computer is wirelessly connected to the other five pilots.

Where to watch: Fort McHenry National Monument and Middle Branch Park, Maryland

8. Georgia: Wings Over North Georgia

When: October 13-14, noon-6 p.m.

Don't miss: A Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is scheduled to perform at this show. If you ever wanted to see this fearsome stealthy super-fighter jet in action, here's your chance. The Raptor is designed to fly faster and stealthier than any of its fighter jet predecessors. During performances, the F-22 has been known to execute eye-popping maneuvers like The Cobra -- when the plane rears up from horizontal to vertical like a snake -- and the Mongo Flip, when it essentially performs a tumbling backflip.

Where to watch: Russell Regional Airport near Rome, Georgia

9. Texas: Wings Over Dallas WWII Airshow

When: October 26-28, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Don't miss: The Boeing B-29 Superfortress named "FIFI" is one of only two left that still fly. This is the first type of US military bomber produced with a pressurized cabin, allowing it to fly above bad weather. The B-29 made history in 1945 when it dropped atomic bombs on Japan, ending World War II. Fans may recall FIFI appearing in a 2016 episode of AMC TV's "Better Call Saul."

Where to watch: Dallas Executive Airport, Dallas, Texas

10. Florida: Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show NAS Pensacola

When: November 2-3, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Don't miss: The US Navy Blue Angels elite flight demonstration team has been wowing crowds since 1946. Their annual homecoming performance is the team's chance to look good in front of their friends and neighbors. What these pilots manage to do with their twin-engine F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets is simply breathtaking.

Where to watch: Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

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