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Thunderbirds 'Soar into Solstice'

June 25, 2008 (by A1C Nora Anton) - More than 6,000 people in the local area took the afternoon off to venture out to Eielson Air Force Base for the 2008 "Soaring into Solstice" Thunderbirds Show June 24.

The US Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team taxi onto the flightline during the 2008 'Soaring into Solstice' Thunderbirds Show at Eielson AFB on June 24th, 2008. [USAF photo by SSgt. Tia Schroeder]

Opening the event was a four-ship flyby of the 18th Aggressor Squadron's own F-16 Aggressor aircraft.

On display for visitors to tour and take pictures of were an F-16C Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II, KC-135 Stratotanker and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Also on display was the Air Force's newest fighter aircraft -- the F-22 Raptor.

Local residents were treated to demonstrations from military working dog teams, an Air Force Reserve Command Jet Car, Fort Wainwright's own UH-60 Black Hawks and the U.S. Air Force's aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds.

At 1:30 p.m. five Eielson Airmen were recognized alongside the USAF Thunderbirds in a ceremony before the aerobatics began.

Tech. Sgt. Duwain Aamodt, 353rd Combat Training Squadron; Staff Sgt. Adam Johnson, 354th Maintenance Group; Staff Sgt. Chad Linden, 354th Civil Engineer Squadron; Staff Sgt. Tehani Pardue, 354th Fighter Wing protocol office and Staff Sgt. Matthew Gough, 354th Medical Support Squadron were recognized for their hard work and dedication at either their deployed or home station.

"It was an honor to be recognized," said Sergeant Pardue, who was recognized for her work as a protocol specialist. "It's always a pleasure knowing that someone acknowledged all the hard work that goes into this position. What paid off the most was walking away knowing that someone cared enough to allow me this great opportunity."

At 2 p.m. the Thunderbirds wowed spectators with nearly an hour of aerobatic maneuvers, both in diamond formation and solo. Thunderbirds 1 through 4 took to the skies in diamond formation as Thunderbird 5 executed a "dirty roll" as Thunderbird 6 performs a "split-s."

A variety of maneuvers and stunts took place, such as the opposing pass, where two solo aircraft fly towards each other in what onlookers would guess will be a head-on collision, only to turn at the last second to scathe by untouched. Other maneuvers include the calypso pass, slow pass, fast roll, slow roll, bomb burst and tight turns, among others.

One spectator who brought her two sons to the event said, "We always come to the open base shows to see the flying. Even with the rain, today wasn't a disappointment."

Courtesy of 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs