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Thunderbirds get a new "1"

January 18, 2008 (by SSgt. Russ Martin) - Lt. Col. Greg Thomas took command of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, "Thunderbirds," Jan.11 at the Thunderbird Hangar.

Lt. Col. Greg Thomas assumes command of the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron from Brig. Gen. Stephen Hoog, 57th Wing commander, in a ceremony held on January 11th, 2008. [USAF photo by TSgt. Justin Pyle]

Colonel Thomas becomes the 32nd commander/leader of the "Ambassadors in Blue," accepting the Thunderbird No. 1 position from outgoing commander Lt. Col. Kevin J. Robbins.

"It's truly an honor to represent the more than 500,000 Air Force members serving our country both at home and abroad," said Colonel Thomas.

"For 55 years the Thunderbirds have proudly represented the dedication, service and professionalism of every Airman and I hope to carry on that respectful tradition."

Colonel Thomas entered the Air Force in 1992 as a distinguished graduate from Reserve Officer Training Corps at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Before his assignment to the team, Colonel Thomas was the 12th Fighter Squadron director of operations at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

He has logged more than 2,100 hours as an Air Force pilot, with more than 240 hours of combat experience and nearly 1,800 hours in the F-15.

The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron is an Air Combat Command unit comprised of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and approximately 120 enlisted Airmen performing in more than 31 career specialties.

A Thunderbirds' demonstration is a mix of six aircraft, performing formation flying and solo routines. The four-aircraft diamond formation demonstrates the training and precision of Air Force pilots, while the solos highlight the maximum capabilities of the Lockheed Martin F-16C.

Courtesy of U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron

Additional images:

Lt. Col. Gregory Thomas, 12th FS, was selected to fly the No. 1 position for the Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron during the 2008/09 air show seasons. [USAF photo]

Lt. Col. Greg Thomas, the incoming 2008-2009 USAF Thunderbird Aerial Demonstration Team commander/leader, climbs into his new block 52 F-16. The 508th Aerospace Sustainment Wing and the 309th Maintenance Wing worked together to provide the first of several converted aircraft to the Thunderbird Team for the 2009 season. [USAF photo by Alex R. Lloyd]