April 18, 2013 (by A1C Alex Echols) - Tyndall's own Lt. Col. Matthew "Pipper" Bradley, 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron operations director, has been selected to be Thunderbird No. 1.
Lt. Col. Matthew 'Pipper' Bradley, 83rd FWS operations director, stands in front of a F-15 Eagle (A-model). He has been selected as Thunderbird No. 1. [USAF photo by MSgt. J. Scott Wilcox]
"I am extremely honored and humbled to be chosen as the next Thunderbird No. 1," said Colonel Bradley. "I'm following in the footsteps of great leaders, officers and pilots who have carried the torch for 60 years. I'm very excited about joining a team dedicated to representing the United States Air Force around the world."
Colonel Bradley will be joining the team in 2014.The Thunderbirds consist of 120 members from around 30 career fields.
"The year 2014 will mark the Thunderbirds' 61st season as the Air Force's premier jet demonstration team," Maj. Derrick B. Lee, Thunderbirds Public Affairs said. "From mid-March till mid-November, the team travels around the country and abroad, showcasing the integrity, selfless service and excellence embodied by American Airmen everywhere."
In his current job, Colonel Bradley is in charge of planning visits from 30 squadrons to Tyndall each year. The squadrons come here for two weeks to shoot missiles and scrimmage with drones as part of Combat Archer. He is responsible for the scheduling of all these items.
Colonel Bradley has logged more than 1,300 flying hours in the F-15C Eagle, but as Thunderbird No. 1, he will be flying the F-16C Fighting Falcon. He will also be in the commanding position in the team.
"As the leader, I will be the squadron commander of the Thunderbirds," Colonel Bradley said. "Just like any squadron commander, I will be serving the 120 members of the team by taking care of them on and off duty, equipping them to perform their mission, and setting the vision and goals of the team. In addition, during the air shows, I will be flying and leading the six aircraft that perform."
Colonel Bradley credits his success to wife, Stephanie, of 15 years and his three sons. He also thanks the great mentors who taught him throughout his life and especially during his 16 years in the Air Force for molding him into the successful leader he is today.
"From my parents, brothers, wife, sons, family, friends, commanders and peers, I've learned a lot and have been given opportunities that have set me up for this time," said Colonel Bradley. "I am thankful for every person that has guided me along the way because I wouldn't have this opportunity if it wasn't for every one of them."