Luke AFB Open House and Air Show

Luke Air Force Base Open House and Air Show

by John Thow

So before we get to the air show stuff, we wondered how Luke AFB got its name and looked into it in the base’s own history pamphlet, which states: “In September 1918, 2d Lt Frank Luke, Jr., made aviation history in World War I when he wreaked havoc on the aerial fleets of Germany. During an 18-day period, of which Luke only flew 8 days, he destroyed 18 enemy aircraft. Because he targeted the most dangerous prey, the heavily defended observation balloons, he became known as the “Arizona Balloon Buster.” He was the first aviator awarded the Medal of Honor. On June 6, 1941, Litchfield Park Air Base (AB) was re-designated Luke Field in his honor and memory.”

Luke is notable for many aviation accomplishments which also includes being the birthplace of the Thunderbirds, who were formally activated at Luke on the 25th of May, 1953, flying the Republic F-84 Thunderjet. So it seemed only appropriate to get down to Arizona to see the T-birds back for another show.

F-16C Viper

F-16C of the 61st Fighter Squadron Photo: Dan Thow ©

Bill Reeseman Mig 17

Bill Reeseman rapidly approaching show center in his Mig 17. Photo: John Thow ©

Luke pilot and airmen stand with 61st Fighter Sqn F-16

Luke pilot and airman stand with 61st Fighter Sqn F-16.
Photo: John Thow ©

We really enjoyed our time at Luke. There was a nice collection of aircraft and we had a great chance to speak with many of the pilots who are seasoned professionals as well as some who are just getting started in their careers as fighter pilots. Luke is the premier fighter training base in the United States for the USAF.

As you can see from the included images, the F-16 Fighting Falcon was the primary fighter at the time we visited, however today the F-35 is coming into its own as well and the base is now training pilots and crews for the F-35 Lightning II and the F-16.

Keep an eye on our Air Show Calendar for information on the next LUKE AIR SHOW. Past featured aircraft and performers include the F-35 Heritage Flight Team, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, and Tora, Tora, Tora, WWII reenactment. Additional information will be available as the show gets closer. Check out the OFFICIAL LUKE AFB WEBSITE for up-to-date information.

F-22 Raptor Flight Demonstration Team J.Thow ©

F-22 Raptor Flight Demonstration Team  Photo: J.Thow ©

UC-35 Citation

Cessna UC-35 Citation Photo: J.Thow ©

The USAF Thunderbird Diamond

The USAF Thunderbird Diamond over Luke AFB Photo: J.Thow ©

Luftwaffe Tornado

German Luftwaffe Panavia Tornado on the ramp at Luke AFB.  Photo: J. Thow ©

KC-10 Extender

A behemoth KC-10 Extender refueling aircraft sits on static display at Luke AFB. Photo: © John Thow

Air Force Heritage Flight

Air Force Heritage Flight with P-51D, P-40, and A-10. Photo: J.Thow ©

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