Air Show History

Cleveland National Air Show soared into the skies 50 years ago.

How many do you remember?

Cleveland’s rich aviation history includes two members of the prestigious International Council of Air Shows Hall of Fame…Air Race founder Clifford Henderson and longtime Air Show Executive Director Chuck Newcomb.

Learn more about the National Air Races or Burke Lakefront Airport the Air Show’s longtime home.


Cleveland National Air Show held July 4 – 5timeline_1964-150

T-Birds canceled because of accidents in F-105 jets.

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T-Birds perform in North American F-100s (first supersonic jet fighters).timeline_1965-150

Flyby of Convair B-58 Hustler supersonic 4-jet bomber.

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Blue Angels perform in Grumman F11A Tigers.timeline_1966

Solo pilot Vince Dinelli knocked off a wingtip on a piling sticking out of Lake Erie and diverted to Selfridge Field, MI.

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Air Racing returns with Formula One, sport bi-planes and Women’s stock planes.timeline_1967-150

Cpt. Ed Weiner, ex-fighter pilot wins Bendix-style dash from LA in P-51 Mustang after 4 hrs, 55 min. averaging 411 mph.

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More Air Racing.timeline_1968-150

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timeline_1969-150All racing events opened to women.

T-Birds performed in F-4 Phantoms.

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Fly-by of Air Force’s C-5A Galaxy — “World’s Biggest Plane”.timeline_1970-150

Blue Angels performed in F-4 Phantom IIs.

Lt. Steve Shoemacher causes ruckus when he flies his F-4 Phantom straight down East 9th Street through the canyon of Cleveland skyscrapers.

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Air Show moved to July 17 – 18 to match the City of Cleveland’s 175th birthday.timeline_1971-150

Chicago’s Naval Reserve Air Barons perform in A-4 Skyhawks.

Pictured: Chief Warrant Officer Jimmy B. Johnston and Capt. Jim Mead with their Cobra helicopter gunship at the 1971 Cleveland National Air Show.

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Thunderbirds perform in F-4s, fly-by of Air Force’s Lockheed SR-71 and demonstration of U.S. Army Golden Knights.timeline_1972-150

Cleveland National Air Show moved to Labor Day Weekend following the tradition begun in 1929 with the National Air Races.

Both U.S. Air Force and Burke Lakefront Airport celebrate 25th Anniversaries.

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Thunderbirds return in F-4s for second straight year.timeline_1973-150

Seven-helicopter flight team, Army Silver Eagles perform with FB-111 fly-by, USMC OV-10 Demo and Red Devils.

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Royal Air Force’s Vulcan delta wing bomber flew the Atlantic in 9 hours to perform at CNAS. timeline_1974-150Blue Angels headline show in A-4 Skyhawks. Appearance of world’s first civilian jet aerobatics team “The Bede Jet Team” flying BD-5J micro jet and the US Army’s Silver Eagles precision helicopter team. Aviation High School opens.

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T-Birds are scheduled to perform in T-38 Talons but three days of torrential downpour cancels show.

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Flying display included a restored 1925 Swallow biplane and a 1929 Ford Trimotor.timeline_1976-150

Performances by the Eagles, then still called the Red Devils, the Blue Angels and Bob Hoover.

Pictured: The Red Devils, from left, Charlie Hillard, Gene Soucy and Tom Poberezny.

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Parker Hannifin sponsored a business jet race from the midwest to Burke Lakefront Airport and the event features an aviation industry Trade Show.timeline_1977-150

Senator John Glenn serves as Grand Marshal. T-birds perform in T-38s, Formula One racing, CNAS debut of A-10 Thunderbolt.

Burke Lakefront Airport celebrates 30th Anniversary.

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Blue Angels perform in A-4s. Formula One Championships were held at CNAS. timeline_1978-150Bill Falck, long-time Formula One Champion, perished when his plane, Rivets, crashed into the lake.

Arnold Palmer serves as Grand Marshal.

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50th Anniversary of the 1929 National Air Races.timeline_1979-150

B-52 bomber fly-by and Thunderbirds perform in T-38s. “Thunderchicken” the world’s only sky-diving clown appears at CNAS.   Other acts include the USMC Harrier, the legendary Art Scholl, the Red Devils (later known as the Eagles), F-14 Tomcat Demonstration and a static display of the C-5A Galaxy.  Mudry Aviation demonstrates their CAP aircraft with a duo of pilots that would be dubbed “The French Connection” by CNAS publicists.


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Blue Angels headline show in A-4 Skyhawks, Bob Hoover performs and Gossamer Albatross (first human powered aircraft to cross the English Channel) is displayed at CNAS.timeline_1980-150

RAF demonstrate both the Vulcan and Nimrod aircrafts.  Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer and Senator John Glenn attend the show along with National Air Race founder Cliff Henderson (his last visit to Cleveland).

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Thunderbirds perform in T-38s.(An incident, unrelated to the event, in which a bird is sucked into the aircraft’s engine occurs during Tuesday morning’s departure causing the crash of the #1 T-bird aircraft.   D.L. Smith perishes in the accident.). timeline_1981-150 It is the last year they stage from Burke Lakefront Airport, future aircraft requirements will force them to stage from Hopkins Int’l Airport.

There is a B-52 flyby and the Goodyear Blimp on display at CNAS.

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Blue Angels perform in A-4 Skyhawks. Seven time U.S. National Aerobatics Champion Leo Loudenslager’s first CNAS appearance. The Royal Falcons, from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, appear at CNAS as part of their first North American Tour.timeline_1982-150

Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich and members of the legendary Surfer-group the Beach Boys (performing in Cleveland Stadium over the weekend) attend the event.

Pictured: Mayor Voinovich meets the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team.

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Thunderbirds return to CNAS now flying F-16 Fighting Falcons. timeline_1983-150

Golden Knights are featured at the show along with the first solo appearance of BD-5J Micro jet at CNAS.

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Appearance of Royal Air Force’s Nimrod. timeline_1984-150

Blue Angels perform in A-4 Skyhawks.

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Frederick C. Crawford serves as CNAS’s Grand Marshal.timeline_1985-150

Thunderbirds perform in F-16s.

British Airways Concorde supersonic airliner makes first Ohio appearance.

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Last Cleveland appearance of Blue Angels in A-4 Skyhawks. timeline_1986-150Senator John Glenn returns as Grand Marshal.

F-14, star of the movie “Top Gun,” demos at CNAS along with the USAF’s A-10 Thunderbolt II and KC-135 tanker.

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Thunderbirds return to CNAS with F-16 Fighting Falcons. timeline_1987-150Clevelanders witness the first baton pass between wingwalkers when Johnny Kazian and Lori Ross pass a baton while wing-walking on separate Waco bi-planes.

B-1B Bomber, British Airways Concorde and USAF’s SR-71 perform flybys at show.

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Blue Angels perform in Cleveland with F/A-18 Hornets. The British Airways Concorde returns to Cleveland.timeline_1988-150

Mrs. Marian Henderson, widow of National Air Racing founder Clifford Henderson, reinstitutes the prestigious Clifford W. Henderson Achievement Award. The Award was presented to EAA’s then senior vice-president, Tom Poberezny.

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timeline_1989-150CNAS celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the 1929 National Air Races with Formula One Air Racing.

Thunderbirds perform in F-16s.

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U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform in F/A-18 Hornets.

timeline_1990-150Cleveland debut of Team America aerobatics team and “Otto” the talking helicopter.  Last Cleveland flying demonstration by living legend, R.A. “Bob” Hoover.

Gene Soucy and Teresa Stokes bring the Showcat to Cleveland for the first time and first and only appearance of the Halcones from the Air Force of the Republic of Chile.

Ohio Governor George Voinovich attends show.

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Cleveland becomes the first site of the historic MiG-29 Friendship Tour featuring a full demonstration of the MiG-29 Fulcrum.timeline_1991-150

F-117 Stealth Fighter fly-by and static display of Patriot Missile system recently back from Desert Storm.  NASA displays the X-30 Experimental aircraft.

First Cleveland appearance of Les Shockley’s Shockwave.

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Thunderbirds, US Army Golden Knights, F-117 Stealth Fighter fly-by, F-14 Tomcat demonstration,  Patty Wagstaff, Les Shockley and Jim Franklin define the “THRILL ZONE” of the 1992 event.timeline_1992-150

Delmar Benjamin performs in his Gee-Bee R2 replica.  President George H. Bush opens Saturday’s show as Air Force One (the actual 747) flies by with the President onboard.   During one performance the F-14 Tomcat was forced to land early when one afterburner was stuck in the “on” position (the engine was…

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1993’s “Break On Through” theme highlighted by performances of Blue Angels, first Cleveland appearance of Sean D. Tucker and F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration.timeline_1993-150

Alexander Zuyev, a former top fighter pilot for the Soviet Union who narrowly escaped and defected in a stolen MiG-29 appears at the show.  Cleveland Cavalier’s General Manager and Executive Vice President, Wayne Embry, serves as Honorary Chairman.

The US Army Golden Knights found their C-31 aircraft stuck in the mud when they…

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Blue Angels return for 2nd straight year.timeline_1994-150

Cleveland National Air Show commemorates 50th Anniversary of W.W.II with “So Proudly We Hail” theme and commemoration display.R.A. “Bob” Hoover returns to CNAS to serve as Grand Marshal.  Crystal Bernard, star of NBC’s “Wings” made a guest appearance at Saturday’s show.   Dr. Guion S. Bluford, Jr., retired Air Force pilot with 144 combat missions in the F-4C tactical fighter aircraft including 65 missions over N. Vietnam who became the first…

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Return of USMC Harrier demonstration, final Cleveland performance of the legendary Eagle Aerobatics Team and fly-by of B-2 Stealth Bomber.  Matt Chapman makes first appearance at the Cleveland National Air Show.timeline_1995-150

Commemoration of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Grand Opening with “Rocks the Sky” theme and Skydiving Elvises.   Music industry executives and icons of the music world, such as Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp, pass through Burke Lakefront Airport as part…

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Blue Angels perform their 50th show of their 50th Anniversary Season during the Cleveland National Air Show.timeline_1996-150

Air Show celebrates Cleveland’s Bicentennial with appearance of Delmar Benjamin’s Gee Bee R-2 replica and a special salute to women in aviation with the Cincinnati-to-Cleveland 1996 Bicentennial Women’s Air Derby.

Cleveland National Air Show goes Above and Beyond with rare “Flight of the Twin Engine Cats” F-14/F-74 demonstration.

Cleveland National Air Show Foundation…

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Air Show moves off Labor Day Weekend in order to accommodate the appearance of the US Navy Blue Angels.  timeline_1997-150Show also features an F-104 Starfighter.

Cleveland National Air Show Foundation completes and official dedicates Marjorie Rosenbaum Plaza at Burke Lakefront Airport.

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The Air Show returns as “Cleveland’s Labor Day Tradition” with the first Cleveland appearance of the USAF Thunderbirds since 1992.  The show also features demonstrations of the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the F-14 Tomcat.  Rocky Hill appears in Cleveland for the first time.timeline_1998_edit-500

CASPA aerobatics competitions make Cleveland debut when Sean D. Tucker edges out Patty Wagstaff, Gene Soucy and Ian Groom for the EGC/GBSA Challenge Cup.

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The Thunder…The Roar…The Challenge offers something for everyone.  The “thunder” of the Blue Angels headlined a full list of flying events including the “roar” of a P-51/F-16 “Heritage Flight” and Cleveland’s own Walt Linscott in his YAK-55.timeline_1999-150

The “challenge” was intended for the aerobatics competition but it was better applied to the unusual amount of bird activity during the weekend.  The F-16 suffered a bird strike at the start of its performance on Sunday and Blue Angel #2 digested…

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Dense fog on Saturday and a wet, cold Monday spoil a terrific air show line-up featuring a W.W.II Bomber Parade led the by world’s only flying B-29 (“Fifi”) along with B-24, B-25 and B-17.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform in their sleek F-16s along with a flying demonstration of the RAF’s Nimrod.

Golden Knights planes

The US Army Golden Knights make a rare 2-team performance during Sunday’s show with both the Gold and Black teams.

Air Racing fans are treated to a flying display of the F2G-1…

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Gorgeous weather greeted Air Show fans each day.  The featured line-up included the US Navy Blue Angels and Army’s Golden Knights.  timeline_2001-1502001 marked the Cleveland debut of the Swift Magic Aerobatics Team, Dan Buchanan’s hang-gliding act, Jim “Bulldog” Leroy, and the L-39 Albatross.  A MiG-15/F-86 dogfight commemorated the 10th Anniversary of the 1991 MiG-29 Friendship Tour and the sky roared throughout the day with a B-1 Lancer flyby, a demonstration of the Canadian CF-18 Hornet, the USAF A-10…

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timeline_2002-150Although Saturday’s B-1 flyby cancelled en route to Cleveland due to aircraft problems and the Golden Knights aircraft did not arrive until Monday morning, the 2002 Cleveland National Air Show featured not only the Rockets Red Glare of the USAF Thunderbirds but an international line-up including the USAF’s A-10 Warthog, USN’s F-14 Tomcat, a beautifully painted CF-18 from Canada, the RAF’s Nimrod.

Curt Arnspiger made his first return to Cleveland since 1995 and the Aeroshell Aerobatics…

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timeline_2003-150Fat Albert’s JATO demonstration) and showcased its role in Aviation’s 100 year history as host of the “Golden Age of Aviation” and a focus on the National Air Races.  This included a Laird Super Solution and a simulated Unlimited Air Race with the restored 1949 Thompson Trophy Racer F2G Super Corsair  #57, a P-51 Mustang and a Hawker Sea Fury.  Other acts included a rare P-38 along with other warbirds that was punctuated by pyrotechnics, the first Cleveland appearance of the Firebirds…

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40 years at Burke logo Twilight Show logoThe 2004 Cleveland National Air Show presented by Discount Drug Mart kept the Cleveland tradition alive on Labor Day Weekend celebrating its 40 th Year at Burke Lakefront Airport and the 75 th Anniversary of the 1929 National Air Races. The Air Show also hosted a new Friday Night Twilight Show.

The excitement mounted as the future of the show was in jeopardy amid news from the FAA only nine days before the event that air shows cannot operate (within three nautical miles) at the same time…

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Strong crowds, near perfect weather and a fantastic act line-up combined to make the 2005 Cleveland National Air Show presented by Discount Drug Mart a Labor Day weekend success.

FA-18 FSuper HornetAfter an absence of a jet team in 2004, Air Show fans were delighted by the return of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Jet Demonstration Team. But the Thunderbirds were just the tip of the act line-up which included the A-10 Warthog, Heritage Flight with a P-51 Mustang, Sean D. Tucker, Legacy Flight with a F6F…

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Blue Angels 60 year anniversaryCleveland ‘s 2006 edition of the annual aerial extravaganza recognized the 60th Anniversary of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. “2006 was a special year to host the Blue Angels,” said Air Show Executive Director Chuck Newcomb, “the Blue Angels performed at the National Air Races in Cleveland during their inaugural 1946 demonstration season and so it was fitting they return to Cleveland for their historic 60 th Anniversary.” Despite Saturday’s frequent rain showers the U.S. Navy Blue Angels…

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What a beautiful weekend! Sunny skies and a comfortable breeze provided strong crowds.

USAF 60th AnniversaryThe 2007 Cleveland National Air Show featured the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. Appearing for the first time in Cleveland was Major Nicole Malachowski in the #3 right wing position, the first female demonstration pilot on a U.S. military high performance jet team. She has been with the Thunderbirds since 2006. Joining the team in 2007 was Captain…

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Another beautiful weekend! Sunny skies and a comfortable breeze provided strong crowds.

NASA 50th AnniersaryThe 2008 Air Show featured the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and celebrated NASA’s 50th Anniversary. NASA Glenn Research Center was front and center with an expanded display that included hands-on activities and digital learning stations packed into its Journey to Tomorrow trailer, plus the Aerospace Enviromental Bus and photos opportunities along with the S-3 Viking and T-34. Astronauts from Ohio also…

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Golden Knights 50 year anniversaryThe 2009 Air Show was filled with lots of Roaring, Soaring, Fun featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Marine Corp AV-8B Harrier Demo. The “Harrier” performed each event day and a second “Harrier” was on static display. The Cleveland National Air Show was one of only 14 show sites to recieve the coveted 2009 “Harrier” demo.

The 2009 show included first time appearances of Skip Stewart in his high-energy gyroscopic muscle bi-plane, Pirated Skies – Franklin’s Flying Circus and…

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timeline_2010-150The 2010 Air Show featured the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and some rain on Saturday. The Blues flew but folks were invited back on Sunday or Monday to view the show as General Admission patrons…and what a show they saw.

Military participation included the F/A-18F Super Hornet Demo (with a FU4-Corsair Legacy Flight), F-15 Strike Eagle Demo, C-17 Globemaster Demo and U.S. Army Golden Knights. The Red Eagles two-ship aerobatic team made their first Cleveland appearance and long time air show…

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Gravit Defying FunThe 2011 Air Show was Gravity Defying Fun with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. The weekend was a wild weather ride with temperatures on Saturday in the 90s and dipping to the fifties on Monday. But everyone flew and fans saw a terric show.

The Air Force represenation was second to none and included the A-10 Demo, F-4 Phantom and P-51 Mustang. Other military included the F/A-18 Hornet Demo, Golden Knights, Canadian Forces CP-140 Aurora flby and USMC MV-22 Osprey on static. Cleveland fans…

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timeline_2012-150The 2012 Air Show featured the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and commemorated the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. Cleveland experienced heavy rains Saturday night into Sunday morning which forced the closing of the air show parking lot due to muddy conditions. The Blues flew Sunday but folks were invited back on Monday to view the show as General Admission patrons.

The Bicentennial of the War of 1812 brought some unique features to the 2013 Air Show including a rare appearane of the U.S. Navy…

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The 2013 Air Show was canceled due to the impact of Federal Government Sequestration budget cuts on Department of Defense and Aerospace Industry support of public air shows. Planning and preperation proceeded for the 2014 Cleveland National Air Show featured the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

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timeline_2014-150The 2014 Air Show roared back into Cleveland on Labor Day Weekend…and featured the U.S. Navy Blue Angels!  Other performers included a civilian owned British Aerospace Sea Harrier, Jet Waco Screamin’ Sasquatch and Tin Stix of Dynamite with was an amazing mix of jaw-dropping aerobatics with pyrotechnics.  WWII Warbirds included a B-25 Mitchell Bomber “Yankee Warrior”, B-17 Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady” and a beautifully restored TBM Avenger.  Cleveland was one of the first air shows in…

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