June 8, 2010 (by AFNS) - The Museum of Aviation has won the 2010 Air Force Heritage Award for its Ambassadors in Blue - U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds exhibit.
Former Thunderbirds F-16A #81-0676 is displayed at the Museum of Aviation in Warner-Robins as seen on April 12th, 2010.
The 2,286-square-foot exhibit sponsored by the Carl Vinson Memorial chapter of the Air Force Association opened in May 2009 and displays an F-16A Fighting Falcon that was a part of the famous flying team from 1982 to 1991.
The award was presented by C.R. Anderegg, the director of Air Force History and Museums Programs and Policies, who recognized "the hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence" shown by the exhibits team at the Museum of Aviation.
Museum officials gained the aircraft in February 2008 from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, where it had been used as a maintenance trainer after being retired from the Thunderbirds team to bring on a newer model of the F-16. Using the aircraft paint facilities at Robins AFB
and the technical data supplied by the Thunderbirds members, museum officials repainted the aircraft to its original red-white-and-blue Thunderbirds markings.
Air Force Association officials donated more than $17,700 for the supplies and paint to put the Thunderbirds paint scheme on the aircraft, which is an earlier version of the F-16s used by the team today.
"This is the second year in a row we have won this Air Force award," said Ken Emery, the museum director. "Last year we won it for the 507th PIR/Down to Earth WWII exhibit in the new World War II Hangar. That exhibit and the Thunderbirds exhibit are now two of our most popular exhibits."
Besides the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, the Museum of Aviation is now the only other Air Force museum in the country to have a former Thunderbirds F-16 on display. The exhibit is open free to the public.