U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will take to the skies opening weekend June 29thand 30th.The Festival Air Shows are presented by Northern Michigan Toyota Dealers, and co-sponsored by Blarney Castle Oil, Cherry Capital Airport, Spectrum, Northwestern Michigan College Aviation Department, Avflight, Sam's Club, WTCM AM and U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City.The Festival Airshows are FREE both days. A full practice show will be held Friday, June 28th in the heart of Traverse City, Michigan.
The Thunderbirds squadron is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and more than 100 enlisted personnel performing in almost 30 job specialties.
A Thunderbirds air demonstration is a mix of formation flying and solo routines. The four-jet diamond formation demonstrates the training and precision of Air Force pilots, while the lead and opposing solo aircraft highlight some of the maximum capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
The pilots perform approximately 40 maneuvers in a demonstration. The entire show, including the ground show and air demonstration, lasts about 75 minutes. The season typically starts in March and ends in November, with the winter months used to train new members. Officers serve a two-year assignment with the squadron, while enlisted personnel serve three to four.
The squadron performs no more than 80 air demonstrations each year and has never canceled a demonstration due to maintenance difficulty. More than 280 million people in all 50 states and 57 foreign countries have seen the red, white and blue Thunderbirds jets in more than 3,500 aerial demonstrations.