Ever drive on an urban freeway where it’s bumper-to-bumper at 70 mph and if you sneeze or blink too long, it can be a disaster?
Try steering in the same crowded environment at 400 mph. And in three axes, or dimensions of direction. Upside down. Close enough to count the other guy’s rivets.
That’s what it’s like the fly with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Take a look.
This year, for the first time, the Air Force demonstration team is doing its winter training away from its home, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, according to their public affairs office.
The Thunderbirds were slated for training beginning Jan. 10 near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. They then moved Feb. 1 to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, The Sierra Vista Herald/Review said.
It’s all in preparation for their first show of 2022 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, March 19 and 20.
Does the Thunderbird demonstration team help Air Force recruitment?
Yes: 96% (24 Votes)
No: 4% (1 Votes)
Leadership for the team and the Air Force 57th Fighter Wing decided to do training this year away from their Nevada base. They reviewed several locations “based on aerospace availability, geographic location and site surveys,” the Air Force said.
Officials chose Truth or Consequences and Fort Huachuca as “excellent training environments, each serving different purposes,” according to Lt. Col. Justin Elliott, Thunderbirds commander and leader.
“The show season subjects the team to difficult and ever-changing environments both in the air and on the ground,” Elliott said. “
“Training in new and different environments will allow the team to exercise the necessary muscles to ensure our demonstration is precise despite changing conditions.
Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, features 6,000 square miles of restricted airspace, 340 days of sunshine, low humidity, low population density and a 12,000-foot runway.
Fort Huachuca has restricted airspace of 946 square miles, mild winter weather, low humidity and three runways.
Fort Huachuca, “with many mountains close by, will challenge the demonstration team in flight with different conditions, visuals, and a more rigid flying schedule like those they’ll see during the show season,” an Air Force news release said.
It will provide a training experience that is more disciplined, according to Capt. Kaitlin Toner, Thunderbirds public affairs officer.
The Thunderbirds, launched in 1953, consists of eight pilots and four other officers providing medical and public relations efforts plus 120 enlisted support people.