The F-15C Demo Was Ten Minutes Of Screaming Eagle Freedom

Illustration for article titled The F-15C Demo Was Ten Minutes Of Screaming Eagle Freedom

The now defunct F-15C Eagle Demonstration Team put on one hell of a show, only to be rivaled by the Navy's notorious F-14 Tomcat demonstration. The Eagle is one sleek yet brutish machine, punching out close to 50,000lbs of thrust. When flown totally clean, the jet's raw performance is jaw dropping, and nowhere was this made more clear than during the demo.


One of the coolest parts of the F-15C demo was the takeoff, with the pilot performing a hard stick-back, high angle of attack rotation. You could literally see the Eagle's twin P&W F100-220 trubofans scorching the runway. The rest of show consisted of minimum radius turns, zoom climbs, crisp rolls, and dirty passes. It was just fantastic, and if you were lucky enough to be at an air show with a low ceiling and wet clouds, the 'low-show' turned the F-15C into near-supersonic cotton ball with a pointy nose and a pair of big tails sticking out the ends.


The F-15 demo team had a good run, spanning some 26 years, but with the post-bush era defense cutbacks on the horizon and the Raptor becoming America's preeminent air-to-air fighter, the team was disbanded in 2009. Still, the F-15E Strike Eagle demo team soldiered on, although the display did not quite have the same wow factor as its single seat "not a pound for air to ground" predecessor.

Illustration for article titled The F-15C Demo Was Ten Minutes Of Screaming Eagle Freedom

Sadly, the USAF Strike Eagle demo team was disbanded just a couple years after the F-15C demo team as part of a sweeping reduction in USAF participation in air shows, leaving just the F-22 Demo Team representing the USAF's front-line forces across the US and abroad. What was puzzling about this deep cutback was that the F-16 Viper demo teams were also disbanded but continued to fly heritage flights at air shows, meaning that although they would still fly all the way to the air show location, launch for a short routine and then execute the heritage flight, they could not fly the F-16 demo. This was just another absurd sign that cutting the individual type demonstration teams nearly across the board really didn't save much money at all, but it sure did punish the public and the air show industry.

For those of us who were lucky enough to see the F-15C demo, we can still remember the thundering crescendo that seemed to fill every inch of the atmosphere as the mighty Eagle zoomed up into the vertical with long vapour streamers pouring off of its wingtips. It truly was an eyewatering sight to behold.

Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address

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Many years ago I was in the USAF for Desert Storm. I was at KKMC where we had a squadron of A-10's and F-16's. When the first A-10 to be shot out of the sky went down a foursome of F-16's took off in anger in an attempt to find and guard the downed plane. I have never seen a jet move that fast in my life. All 4 went full AB off the runway to straight vertical and broke mach before they were even out of out sight. I saw a lot of crazy and amazing things out in that desert but the sight of that rescue effort stands out.