Thunder Over Michigan 2022

F-16 Viper demonstration team

Thunder returned to the skies of southeast Michigan, at Willow Run Airport this year. After an absence in 2020, the show returned in 2021 with a drive-in-style airshow, due to government restrictions. It was a hit last year, so the organizers decided to do it again this year. The format was, admission per car ($225) for either the morning or afternoon show (or both) for either the Saturday or Sunday show. At the time of the show, you drive right on to the tarmac and park in the grass field along the runway. In years past, one would have to walk to the show from the parking lot to the tarmac while carrying chairs, cameras, etc.. And the show would go on throughout the day. This new format for the show was essentially a tailgate at the airshow. Like always, there was static display (ground) of aircraft to walk up to and check out. One difference this year was that there was no World War II re-enactment ground battle, that Thunder Over Michigan typically had in years past.

Hurricane Hawker, Supermarine Spitfire, ME-109, FW-190

This year I went with my parents and an old friend and his dad to the morning show to see the World War II British aircraft and the F-16 Viper demonstration team. The afternoon show had the headlining Blue Angels, but the morning show fit everyone’s schedule. The entire time we were there, it looked like it would storm, but the weather held out and the clouds kept it at a pleasant temperature. Air shows in the summer can be notoriously hot. The threat of storm did limit the planes that appeared in the show and kept the sky divers from the helicopter from opening the show.

Once the flying began, it was a constant round-robin of planes, representing eras from World War II to the present. This year’s show had a theme of British planes of World War II, and I was excited to see the Hawker Hurricane. The Hurricane was a crucial plane for the British Royal Airforce fending off the German Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain. During the show, the Hurricane also flew with a P-40 Kittyhawk with a New Zealand paint scheme. One disappointment was that the weather scared off the British Supermarine Spitfire MK. IX from flying. I was able to see it on the ground though. Maybe it will be back next year. The weather also scared off the De Havilland Mosquito, the famous wooden war bird.

Hurricane Hawker and P-40 Kittyhawk flying together.

The show also featured a legacy flight consisting of a World War II P-51 Mustang fighter and a modern F-16 jet fighter flying together in close formation. My favorite moment from the show was when the F-16 Viper team took off and threw on the afterburners while still over the runway as it turned hard to the left. If you haven’t witnessed a jet going into afterburners, it sounds like a loud bang, and you will see the jet exhaust glow orange.

Legacy flight P-51 and F-16

No two airshows are the same, -the week before I went to the Selfridge Open House. Both shows featured the last remaining flying F-100 Super Sabre. For Thunder Over Michigan, the pilot-owner flew lower and closer to the crowd, and as a result I got better pictures of the plane at this show vs. the Selfridge Open House. The Selfridge Open house featured more modern aircraft, while Thunder Over Michigan typically features historic aircraft with a splash of modern aircraft. Enjoy my pictures from the show.

F-100 Super Saber
F-100 and B-17 share the tarmac
Hurricane Hawker
German ME-109 (left) and FW-190 (right)
From left to right, F-100, F4U Corsair, Spitfire, B-17, P-51.
U.S. Navy PT-13
C-47 Skytrain
P-51, Blue Angels FA-18 in the background
F-16 with Blue Angels in the background

Blue Angels
U.S. Navy F/A-18 painted in Soviet.. I mean Russian schemes. Pretending to be a MIG-29 or SU-35 perhaps?
F4U Corsair
F-100 Super Saber
Hurricane Hawker
P-40 Kittyhawk
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