Through air shows and flyovers, they aim to excite and inspire. In addition to showcasing the elite skills all pilots must possess, the Thunderbirds demonstrate. Former Thunderbirds commander Lt. Col. Jason Heard was fired last November after an investigation found he placed his hands on another. In the Thunderbirds hired their first-ever Air National Guard pilot, Lt. Col. Derek Routt as Thunderbird No. 7 (operations officer), and the first-ever. NEW AGE WORKBENCHES
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The squadron's name is taken from the legendary creature that appears in the mythologies of several indigenous North American cultures. It is also one of the oldest squadrons in the Air Force, its origins dating to the organization of the 30th Aero Squadron, formed at Kelly Field , Texas, on 13 June Officers serve a two-year assignment with the squadron, while enlisted personnel serve three to four years.
As the squadron performs no more than 88 air demonstrations each year, replacements must be trained for about half of the team each year, in order to provide a constant mix of experience. In addition to their air demonstration responsibilities, the Thunderbirds are part of the USAF combat force and if required, can be rapidly integrated into an operational fighter unit.
Since , they have flown in front of more than million people. The F has been the demonstration aircraft for the Thunderbirds since the season. The F, however, had been considered for transition prior to the accident.
In rebuilding the Thunderbird Team, the Air Force recruited previous Thunderbird pilots, qualified each in the FA, and had them begin by flying "two-ship" maneuvers, then expanded the program one airplane at a time up to the full six airplanes. These include the replacement of the 20 mm cannon and ammunition drum with a smoke-generating system, including its plumbing and control switches, the removal of the jet fuel starter exhaust door, and the application of the Thunderbirds' glossy red, white, and blue polyurethane paint scheme.
Other than those modifications, the aircraft are taken from the standard USAF inventory as production fighters, and can be returned to an operational squadron in short order without any major modification. From the end of the runway the four-ship Thunderbird team get ready to begin their takeoff roll with the words "Thunderbirds, let's run em up! Diamond: Historically, as Thunderbirds 1 through 4 lift off, the slot aircraft slips immediately into position behind 1 to create the signature Diamond formation.
Thanks to the upgrade to the Block 52, the Diamond now has more than enough thrust to continue to climb straight up into their first maneuver, the Diamond Loop. Solos: Thunderbird 5 takes to the air next, performing a clean low altitude aileron roll, followed by 6 who performs a split S , climbing in a near vertical maneuver, rolling over and diving back toward show center and pulling up just above the runway to exit in the opposite direction.
Much of the Thunderbirds' display alternates between maneuvers performed by the diamond, and those performed by the solos. The Arrowhead involves maneuvers in tight formation with as little as 18 inches 46 cm fuselage to canopy separation. They perform formation loops and rolls or transitions from one formation to another. Some of their maneuvers include both solo aircraft at once, such as opposing passes passing in close proximity to each other and mirror formations two aircraft being flown back-to-back in the calypso pass or belly-to-belly.
In mirror formations, one Thunderbird must be inverted, and it is always number 5. In fact, the number 5 on this aircraft is painted upside-down, and thus appears right-side-up for much of the routine. There is also an extra amount of humor regarding the inverted performance of Thunderbird 5: the pilots all wear tailored flight suits with their name and jet number embroidered on the left breast.
The suit for the pilot of the number 5 airplane has the number sewn upside-down. Nearing the end the Diamond pulls straight up into the vertical to perform the signature "Bomb Burst," where all four aircraft break off in separate directions while a solo goes straight up through the maneuver and performs aileron rolls until 3 miles 4. At the end of the routine, all six aircraft join in formation, forming the Delta.
The jets fly over Falcon Stadium at the precise moment the cadets throw their hats into the air at ceremony's end. During its operational history, the 30th served in World War I as a training unit in France , its mission to train fighter pilots to go into combat on the Western Front. The squadron was almost torpedoed on its troop ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines on 7 December , it was almost wiped out in the Battle of the Philippines.
Some members of the squadron fought as an infantry unit and were captured by the Japanese, being subjected to the Bataan Death March. The squadron was withdrawn to Australia, being reformed and later attacked Japan as a B Superfortress squadron in The team had flown 26 shows by that August. The first team leader was Major Richard C. Catledge — , and the first plane used by the unit was the straight-wing FG Thunderjet.
The T served with the Thunderbirds in this capacity in the s and s. The next year the Thunderbirds performed their first overseas air shows, in a tour of South and Central America, and added a permanent solo routine to the demonstration. Broughton ,  they moved to the swept-wing FF Thunderstreak aircraft, in which they performed 91 air shows, and received their first assigned support aircraft, a C Flying Boxcar. The Thunderbirds' aircraft were again changed in June , to the FC Super Sabre , which gave the team supersonic capability.
This switch was accompanied by a relocation of their headquarters to Nellis AFB , Nevada on 1 June because of maintenance and logistical difficulties of basing the Fs at Luke, with their first show after the move being held on 23 June. It also signaled a shift in their performance routine—for example, the Cuban Eight opening routine was dropped, and emphasis was placed on low, screaming flyovers and demonstrations of takeoff performance.
For a time, if the show's sponsor permitted it, the pilots would create a sonic boom ; this ended when the FAA banned supersonic flight over the continental United States. The move to Nellis also resulted in the first assignment of buildings and hangar space to the team. This practice remained in force through the season. In , the team was compelled to discontinue the vertical bank maneuver due to an FAA regulation prohibiting aerobatics that pointed the nose of the aircraft toward the crowd.
The year saw the introduction of dual solo routines, and the Thunderbirds went on their first European deployment in , the year after the disbanding of the "Skyblazers" see below. The team switched to the F Thunderchief for the season, but were forced to re-equip with the FD after only six airshows due to a catastrophic structural failure of the No. By , the Thunderbirds had flown 1, shows. In , the squadron re-equipped with the front-line F-4E Phantom , which it flew until , the only time the Thunderbirds would fly jets similar to those of the Blue Angels as it was the standard fighter for both services in the s and s.
Due to the oil crisis , the team flew only six air shows and was grounded for some time. However, in they switched to the more economical T Talon. Five Ts used the same amount of fuel needed for one F-4 Phantom. The switch saw an alteration of the flight routine to exhibit the aircraft's maneuverability in tight turns, and ended the era of the black tail on the No.
In , the Thunderbirds suffered a catastrophic loss during pre-season training on 18 January. This resulted in insufficient back pressure by the formation leader on the T control stick during the loop. Visually cueing off the lead aircraft during formation maneuvering, the wing and slot pilots disregarded their positions relative to the ground.
The team's activities were suspended for six months pending investigation of the crashes and review of the program, then reinstituted using the General Dynamics FA Fighting Falcon in , 39 years ago, and were upgraded to the FC now produced by Lockheed Martin in They also performed the first American military demonstration in a communist country when the team visited Beijing , China , in Their 3,th air show was performed in , and in the team went overseas to perform air shows in Switzerland, Poland, and Hungary.
The team traveled abroad again in , visiting Romania, Bulgaria, and Slovenia. Also in , the team participated in the Atlanta Olympics' opening ceremonies. The United States Postal Service honored the Air Force's 50th anniversary as a separate branch of the military in with a limited edition stamp featuring the Thunderbirds. In , during Maj. Malachowski's final season as a Thunderbird, the team selected its second female pilot, Captain Samantha Weeks, who flew the No. During this tour, the Thunderbirds performed at their first-ever air show in Ireland.
Despite inclement weather, more than , people attended the air show, garnering nationwide exposure by Irish media. Outside of aerial demonstrations, the team participated in eight official public relations events attended by heads of state and local civic leaders. The team also conducted community outreach by meeting with needy children throughout Europe.
Later in the year, the team returned to Canada for two shows in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Derek Routt as Thunderbird No. Sean Gustafson, also joined the team as Thunderbird No. More than 1. Alan Schreihofer Information Officer Maj. Lloyd Reder Maintenance Officer Capt. Clarence Langerud Solo Capt. Eugene Devlin Left Wing Capt. Russell Goodman Narrator Capt. Charles Hamm Left Wing Capt.
Robert Morgan Solo Capt. Henry Canterbury Slot Capt. Glenn Scoggins Administration Officer Lt. Robert Haney Maintenance Officer Maj. Frank Liethen Executive Officer Capt. Harold Dortch Narrator Capt. Robert Beckel Solo Capt. Stephen Murata Information Officer Maj. Jack Dickey Slot Maj. Tony McPeak Solo Capt. Louis Labell Administration Officer Maj. Mack Angel Left Wing Maj. Harold Sheldon Materiel Officer Capt. Jack Thurman Solo Lt.
Michael Kerby Solo Capt. Dennis Weddle Information Officer Maj. Robert Jackson Left Wing Maj. Bill Elander Materiel Officer Maj. Art Ivins Narrator Capt. Gary Younglove Administration Officer Lt. Joseph Howard Right Wing Maj.
Steve Dwelle Solo Capt. William Gregory Information Officer Maj. Nels Running Left Wing Maj. James Bash Maintenance Officer Lt. Kirk Brimmer Solo Maj. Al McArtor Narrator Capt. Gilbert Mook Left Wing Capt. Robert Gore Information Officer Maj. Raymon White Logistics Officer Capt.
George Mattingley Executive Officer Maj. James Simons Solo Maj. Joe Prater Logistics Officer Capt. John Lapointe Left Wing Capt. Lacy Veach Solo Maj. Michael Thomsic Maintenance Officer Lt. Rudy Miller Information Officer Capt. Charlie Carter Narrator Capt. Stephen Hyle Executive Officer Capt. James McCoy Slot Capt. Ronald Maness Left Wing Maj. James Coziahr Slot Capt. Gary Ball Logistics Officer Capt. Robert Biehl Maintenance Officer Lt. Daniel Taylor Executive Officer Lt.
Robert Evans Solo Capt. James Epting Executive Officer Maj. Robert Fleer Logistics Officer Capt. Sonny Childers Solo Capt. Monty Montgomery Maintenance Officer Capt. Nicholas Hauck Solo Capt. Kevin Collins Executive Officer Maj. Mark Melancon Slot Lt. Danny Cooley Maintenance Officer Capt. Wayne Holum Right Wing Capt.
John Bostick Solo Maj. Alan Minkel Narrator Maj. James Bailey Logistics Officer Maj. Brian Haugen Executive Officer Maj. Patrick Corrigan Solo Capt. John Robinson Left Wing Maj. David Commons Right Wing Maj. Mark Masters Solo Maj. Jacob Thorn Narrator Capt. Richard Savko Executive Officer Maj. William Pritchett Logistics Officer Lt. Lance Undhjem Slot Capt. Thomas Weiler Solo Capt. Terry Williamson Maintenance Officer Maj.
Joseph Bulmer Right Wing Capt. Kenneth Schow Solo Maj. Bruce Java Logistics Officer Capt. Herbert Nelson Narrator Capt. Walter Williams Maintenance Officer Capt. Dana Atkins Left Wing Maj. Jeffery Remington Solo Capt. Gerilyn Lentine Executive Officer Capt. John Posner Right Wing Maj. John Weida Slot Maj. Charles Greenwood Solo Maj.
David Janik Logistics Officer Maj. Timothy Hoy Narrator Capt. Paul Bowman Maintenance Officer Capt. Steven Henderson Left Wing Capt. Michael Beale Solo Capt. Leonard Coleman Right Wing Capt. Paul Strickland Slot Capt. David Coffman Solo Maj. Scott Anderson Logistics Officer Capt. Christopher Chambliss Narrator Capt. Thomas Foley Executive Officer Capt. Marc Paquette Maintenance Officer Lt. Jeffrey Rochelle Left Wing Capt. Clark Rogers Solo Capt.
Paul Reagan Executive Officer Capt. Matthew Byrd Right Wing Maj. James Evanko Slot Capt. Peter McCaffrey Solo Lt. Michael Major Logistics Officer Maj. Walter Sarafin Maintenance Officer Capt. Darryl Roberson Left Wing Capt. Thomas Lewis Solo Capt. Tony Seely Right Wing Maj. Jeffrey Fiebig Slot Capt. Russell Quinn Solo Maj. James Harder Operations Officer Capt. Patricia Thomas Executive Officer Capt.
John Tobin Maintenance Officer Capt. James Callaghan Flight Surgeon Lt. Scott Cerilli Left Wing Maj. Matthew Modleski Solo Capt. Robert Givens Right Wing Maj. Paul Krause Slot Maj. Randy Lane Operations Officer Maj. Anne Duke Executive Officer Capt. Carl Buhler Maintenance Officer Capt. David Adams Flight Surgeon Lt.
Bradley Bartels Left Wing Maj. Dennis Malfer Solo Maj. Russell Mack Right Wing Maj. Scott Bowen Slot Maj. Dean Wright Solo Lt. Charles Underhill Executive Officer Capt. James Humes Maintenance Officer Capt. Richard Boutwell Slot Maj. Jonathan Greene Right Wing Maj. Kevin Mastin Solo Maj. Jay Flottmann Flight Surgeon Capt.
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