Here is a Breathtaking Cockpit View Video of USAF Thunderbirds Flying in Close Formation
The “Thunderbirds” are the United States Air Force Demonstration Squadron. Also known as “America’s Ambassadors in Blue”, the team flies with six F-16C/D Block 52 aircraft.
In total, the “Thunderbirds” use 12 F-16s; nine are C-models and three two-seat D-models. 6 Aircraft are used for the displays and the rest in reserve
The squadron’s home base is Nellis AFB, near Las Vegas
In total, the squadron consists of 120 personnel – 12 officers, 4 civilians and 104 NCOs. The twelve officers all use the “Thunderbird” call-sign with their applicable number.
- Thunderbird #1 is the leader and commander of the squadron.
- Pilots #2 to #6 are demonstration pilots: #2 is the left wing
- #3 is the right wing, #4 is the slot
- # 5 is the lead solo
- #6 is the opposite solo.
- Pilot #7 is the operations officer
- #8 is the narrator and coordinator of the show.
Each of these pilots is a fighter pilot in the squadron but only the first six participate in the airshow. The #9 is the team’s flight surgeon, #10 is the chief of the headquarters, #11 is the chief of support and #12 is the public relations (PR) officer.
The pilot candidates for the Thunderbirds aerobatic team must have at least 1000 flying hours on a jet fighter and must be current on the F-16. All candidates for the “Thunderbirds” must have at least 3 years (but no more than 12 years) of military service.
Related link: Air-force Thunderbird’s vs Navy Blue Angels
Here are the interesting Facts about Thunderbird’s
1) The United States Air Force introduced its first official air demonstration team on May 25, 1953, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
2) The name “Thunderbirds” is influenced in part by the strong Native American culture and folklore from the southwestern United States where Luke Air Force Base is located.