F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Thunderbirds release 2008 schedule

December 17, 2007 (by AFPN) - The Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, has announced its 2008 airshow schedule.

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Thunderbird no. 7 flies over the Midwestern United States during an air refueling mission on October 1st, 2007. [USAF photo by A1C. Chad M. Kellum]

The team is scheduled to perform more than 67 shows in 25 states and Canada, as it commemorates the 55th Anniversary of the "Ambassadors in Blue."

Lt. Col. Greg Thomas takes the reigns as the Thunderbirds commander and leader for the 2008 show season.

"The entire team is excited to announce our schedule for 2008," Colonel Thomas said. "It is truly an honor for me to lead the team in commemorating the 55th anniversary of the Thunderbirds."

The Thunderbirds will help commemorate another milestone in North America when the team travels to Québec City to perform June 14 and15, honoring the city's 400th anniversary.

The Thunderbirds, originally known as the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit, out of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., were activated May 25, 1953.

"Originally, the Thunderbirds were created in the infancy of the jet age," Colonel Thomas said. "At that time the pilots and crews' mission were to give confidence to the Air Force pilots of the day, showing that they too could handle the speed and power of jet aircraft.

"Over the last 55 years, the mission has changed slightly to include recruiting young men and women, retaining the quality Airmen already in service today and representing the 513,000 active-duty, Guard and Reserve members serving at home and abroad," Colonel Thomas said. "The mission might have changed throughout the years, but the pride, professionalism and almost unbelievable attention to detail of our Airmen representing the Air Force's finest has remained unparalleled."

The Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and about 110 enlisted people performing in more than 29 Air Force specialties.

The 2008 team includes the Air Force's first female lead-solo demonstration pilot, Maj. Samantha Weeks, Thunderbird No. 5, in her second year.

The remaining pilots for the 2008 season include: Maj. Chris Austin, Thunderbird No. 2, left wing; Maj. Scott Poteet, Thunderbird No. 4, slot; and Maj. Tyrone Douglas, Thunderbird No. 6, opposing solo.

Rounding out the list of officers are: Lt. Col. Rob Skelton, Thunderbird No. 7, operations officer; Maj. Anthony Mulhare, Thunderbird No. 8, advance pilot/narrator; Maj. (Dr.) Charla Quayle, Thunderbird No. 9, flight surgeon; Capt. Amy Glisson, Thunderbird No. 10, executive officer; Capt. Charles Ploetz, Thunderbird No. 11, maintenance officer; and Capt. Elizabeth Kreft, Thunderbird No. 12, public affairs officer.

A Thunderbirds' aerial demonstration is a mix of formation flying and solo routines. The pilots perform approximately 40 maneuvers in a demonstration. The entire show, including ground and air, runs about one hour. The airshow season lasts from March to November, with the winter months used to train new members.

The 2008 schedule is as follows:

March
  • 15 San Angelo, Texas
  • 29 Tyndall AFB, Fla.

April
  • 5 - 6 Punta Gorda, Fla.
  • 12 - 13 Lakeland, Fla.
  • 19 - 20 Wilmington, N.C.
  • 26 Charleston AFB, S.C.

May
  • 3 - 4 March ARB, Calif.
  • 10 - 11 Langley AFB, Va.
  • 17 - 18 Fort Smith, Ark.
  • 24 Tinker AFB, Okla.
  • 28 U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. (Invitation Only)
  • 31 McGuire AFB, N.J.

June
  • 1 McGuire AFB, N.J.
  • 7 - 8 Rockford, Ill.
  • 14 - 15 Québec City
  • 21 Klamath Falls, ORE.
  • 24 Eielson AFB, Ala.
  • 28 - 29 Elmendorf AFB, Ala.

July
  • 4 - 6 Battle Creek, Mich.
  • 12 - 13 Milwaukee, Wis.
  • 19 - 20 McChord AFB, Wash.
  • 23 Cheyenne, Wyo.
  • 26 - 27 Rochester, N.Y.

August
  • 8 - 10 Abbotsford, Canada
  • 16 - 17 Offutt AFB, Neb.
  • 20 Atlantic City, N.J.
  • 23 - 24 Kansas City, Mo.
  • 30 - 31 Travis AFB, Calif.

September
  • 6 - 7 Westover ARB, Mass.
  • 12 - 13 Reno, Nev.
  • 14 Mountain Home, Idaho
  • 20 - 21 Scott AFB, Ill.
  • 27 - 28 Salinas, Calif

October
  • 4 Vance AFB, Okla.
  • 11 - 12 Ft. Worth, Texas
  • 18 - 19 Dobbins AFB, Ga.
  • 25 - 26 Houston, Texas

November
  • 1 - 2 Lafayette, La.
  • 8 - 9 Nellis AFB, Nev.




Additional images:

Thunderbird no. 5 performing during RIAT 2007 on July 14th, 2007. [Photo by Mike Schoenmaker]