About this Video
About the Video: Thunderbirds (U.S airforce) 3:02
The Thunderbirds are the Air Demonstration Squadron of the United States Air Force.
The squadron performs no more than 88 air demonstrations each year and has never canceled a demonstration due to maintenance difficulty. In addition to their air demonstration responsibilities, the Thunderbirds are part of the USAF combat force and a component of the 57th Wing. If required, the team's personnel and aircraft can be rapidly integrated into a fighter unit at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.The first team leader was Major General Dick Catledge, and the first plane flown by the squadron was the F-84 Thunderjet. As the F-84G Thunderjet was a single seat fighter, a 2 seat T-33 Shooting Star served as the narrator's aircraft and was used as the VIP/Press ride aircraft. The T-33 served with the Thunderbirds in this capacity in the 1950s & 1960s.
A year later, 1955, they moved to the F-84F Thunderstreak aircraft, in which they performed 91 air shows. The aircraft of the squadron was again changed in June 1956, this time to the F-100 Super Sabre, which gave the pilots supersonic capability. This switch was accompanied by a move of headquarters to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada It also signaled a shift in their performance routine—for example, the Cuban 8 opening routine was dropped, and emphasis was placed on low, screaming flyovers and demonstrations of takeoff performance. For a time, if the show's sponsor permitted it, the pilots would create a "sonic boom" (this ended when the FAA banned supersonic flight over the continental U.S.)In 1960 a decision was made to allow the tail of the #4 slot plane, blackened by the exhaust of the other planes, to remain black. This practice remained in force through the 1973 season. In 1961, the team was compelled to discontinue the vertical bank maneuver due to an FAA regulation prohibiting aerobatics that pointed the nose of the aircraft toward the crowd. . The team switched to the F-105 Thunderchief for a brief period, but returned to the F-100 in 1964 after only six airshows, following Capt. Gene Devlin's death resulting from structural failure of the aircraft in a high-G climbing maneuver. In 1969, the squadron adopted the noisy and huge F-4E Phantom, which it flew until 1973, the only time they would fly jets similar to those of the Blue Angels, as it was the standard fighter for both services. A special white paint had to be developed to cover high-temperature metals, replacing the bare metal paint scheme of past planes. The white paint scheme has been continued to the present. In 1974 they switched to the more economical T-38 Talon, a supersonic trainer based on the F-5 fighter.
In 1982, there was another disaster for the Thunderbirds, occurring during pre-season training on January 18. While practicing the 4 plane diamond loop, the formation impacted the ground at high speed, instantly killing all four pilots: Major Norm Lowry, leader, Captain Willie Mays, Captain Pete Peterson and Captain Mark Melancon. The cause of the crash was officially listed by the USAF as the result of a mechanical problem with the #1 aircraft's control stick actuator. In 1983, the team returned to front-line fighters with the General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon. They would change to the updated F-16C in 1992, an aircraft which has proven its outstanding effectiveness in both air-to-ground and air superiority competitions.
Their 3,000th air show was performed in 1990. The squadron celebrated its 50th anniversary on June 1, 2003.
Submitted by: MarksmanMarc
Keywords: f16 16 fighter jet thunderbird airplane aircraft airshow new york usa airforce warbird plane amazing video thunderbirds
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