Thunder Over Michigan 2021

After missing 2020 for obvious reasons, Thunder Over Michigan was back this year! The format was different, it was a drive in event. You simply set up chairs, blanket or whatever right next to your parked car. There were concessions (and port-a-potties!) available on site.
All things considered it was a fun way to do things. It certainly made it easier to bring along supplies (some home made desserts, check! rain coat? Might need it, so, check! Cooler with our own choice of beverages, check!) and locating your car after was much easier.
I do think the price points were badly fumbled, it was really only a bargain if you had four or more people in your car. But then they broke the show into two halves that were not the same and required their own tickets. I understand the capacity was MUCH less than normal (I would guess less than 1/10th normal) and the Yankee Air Museum was likely scrambling to make sense of the whole thing. But there were hundreds (thousands?) of unsold tickets and they will need to rethink this if things aren’t back to normal next year.

But it was so good to have this show again. And it was really well loaded with things to see.

Nothing like a Mustang, Thunderbolt and Lightning all in one picture! Or maybe I should say P-51, A-10 and F-35.
This was the show’s Heritage Flight. There was also a Navy Legacy Flight with Corsair and Growler.
As you may have guessed, an F-35 demo was a special treat. I’d never seen the type fly before, and I bet most viewers could say the same.
Airshows are so much fun when its humid!
An interesting visitor. An A400 Atlas of the Luftwaffe put on a good show too. Sort of an Elephant ballet.
Any event hosted by the Yankee Air Museum will have World War II types!
The two Mustangs in back, “Old Crow” and “Gentleman Jim” both represent the 357th Fighter Group and are owned by Jack Roush. That means they show up most local gatherings. The one in front was new to me, “Mad Max” (not a historic name) carries 31st Fighter Group colors and looks to have a post-War “Cavalier” style tail.
The official theme this year was “Mitchell Madness!” They used the same theme about 15 years ago (?), but actually had more planes this time. There were 15 Mitchells in total, one was a show time scratch but that still meant 14 up all at once!
They mostly gave us a continuous stream of low passes for 15 minutes, but late in the program several of the planes formed up.
Let’s just say my wife’s camera blows away anything I can do on the iPhone!
Did I mention it was a humid day?
I took my own F-18 up so I could get a good close-up… Sorry, day dream inspired by Jodie’s new camera…
Okay, extra bonus treat. This was the first time ever in Michigan that Blue Angels and Thunderbirds were at the same airshow.
Interesting that the two seaters seem to have extra fuel?
The jet teams did their low shows because of a low cloud deck. Now doubt the Thunderbirds’ vertical burst is amazing to see; but the flat burst pointing strait at the viewers is hardly less!

This may be the most photos I’ve ever put in one post, and I deleted everything on the iPhone…
There was more we didn’t shoot. Before the Navy Legacy Flight the EA-18G Growler did a demo, as did the A-10. The Mustang “Mad Max” did a brief aerobatic display. They really did a good job of putting something in the air all day long. Except for maybe one year in Dayton I think that was the most after-burners I’ve ever seen (and heard!) in one day.
The re-enactors’ land battles were missed, but with so many cars it would have been tough to see anything on the ground. Hopefully that part will return next year.

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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8 Responses to Thunder Over Michigan 2021

  1. Jeff Groves says:

    Looks like a great day out, Dave! Were you able to walk the apron?

  2. jfwknifton says:

    Great planes, great photos, and thanks for sharing them with us.

  3. edward wagman says:

    took me 40 minutes to get to the show and an hour and a half to get home. They need to get a better system for leaving, Also, the portapottys were too far away. The show itself was awesome! Thanks for the wonderful photos.

    • atcDave says:

      No doubt traffic was problematic! But then it always is, we were just at the Dayton airshow last month which was comparatively much worse. I often plan on touring the ramp after the show to let the crowds thin out, but that wasn’t practical this year. The portapottys weren’t too bad for us, but there always could be more of them!
      I think this was the most non-stop I’ve ever seen this airshow. So often there are dead spots in the middle of the day. But this year, apart from the planned break “between shows” it went fast. My biggest concern though was all the empty parking spots, they were way below capacity. Of course then traffic would have been even worse…

  4. Looked like a really great day out!

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