This fleet of F-16's represents the
Air Force's elite "Air Demonstration Squadron". Its goal is to
not only show the
capabilities of the Air Force's high performance aircraft to people around the
world but also the high level of professionalism in the people that fly,
maintain and support such aircraft.
The Thunderbirds Flying Squadron formed back in 1953 using
fighter/bomber jets from the Korean War era. Aircraft used by the flying team
over the years included F-84 Thunderjets, F-100 Super Sabres, F-4E Phantoms,
T-38 Talon trainers, F-16A's and
finally the F-16C Fighting Falcons seen at the
Air Shows today.
Based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Thunderbirds have, over the
in all 50 States and 57 foreign countries. The
squadron usually performs about 88 air demonstrations per year and five planes
are used with four usually staying together while the fifth performs solo
stunts. A typical
demonstration lasts around an hour and the pilots perform about 30 different
Not all Air Shows at Edwards include performances by the Thunderbirds so when
they do perform, it is a real treat!
For those of you who are science fiction fans:
The futuristic toy aircraft piloted by puppets in the British filmmaker Gerry
Anderson's version of "The Thunderbirds" from the 1960's are no relation to this
||The pilots and flight crew of the Thunderbirds prepare for
||The flying team makes a few flybys over the crown in their four aircraft
||The formation of F-16C's flying upside-down as they are
halfway through a full loop.
||After the loop, they zoom by.
||Another look at the four plane formation.
||One of the solo F-16 performers
screams by the
audience at lighting speed when the crowd least expects it. In
this picture, what looks like flames coming out of the engine is evidence
that the afterburner is turned on.
||The four plane formation is seen off in the distance.
||The formation completes another 360º
||Another pass by the Thunderbirds.
||Here, the four planes converge from four separate angles
narrowly missing each other as they pass by.
||One of the Thunderbird F-16's being towed back to the flight
line with an exhausted pilot.