The Most Incredible Aircraft Of All Time: USAF Thunderbirds

Last week I talked about the airshow I attended, and the final performance by the USAF Thunder birds.  I want to fill you in on a short history of the Thunderbirds, then teach you a little bit about the way they fly.  After this I’ll talk about their history of aircraft from the old to the modern F-16.

The Thunderbirds were started on February 13, 1967.  They were made the official demonstration team for the USAF.  They flew many shows before this time but it was not official until 1967.  They Perform up to 88 shows per year in every almost every state and many other countries.  The team is made up of 12 Officers, the first 6 are the pilots.  The other  120 members of the team are enlisted men who support the aircraft and do many other tasks involved with making a great show run smoothly.

The flight team is made up of six of the same aircraft.  The first 4 aircraft make up the Diamond Formation.  This consists of the lead, pilot #1, in front with pilots 2 and 3 on wing left and wing right.  The 4th pilot is called the “Slot” pilot as he fills in the gap at the back of the formation.

The other pilots, #5 and #6, are the solo pilots.  The solo pilots will alternate with the Diamond Formation in performing stunts.  The Solos stunts are alternated between single flybys or two ship flybys, and opposing.  Fun fact aircraft #5 has its five painted upside-down because of his frequent inverted flight.

After many minutes of alternating the two sub-teams join into the classic Thunderbirds Formation.  The two solos fill in at far wing right and left.

 The USAF Thunderbirds have gone through many different aircraft through their years and they are as follows:

F-84 Thunderjet,

F-100 Super Sabre,

F-105 Thunderchief,

F-4 Phantom II (Awesome),

T-38 Talon,

and today they fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon.


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