On May 25, 1953, the fledgling U.S. Air Force commissioned its first official air demonstration team out of Luke Air Force Base, AZ, designated the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit. Largely influenced by the Native American culture in the area, the unit adopted the name “Thunderbirds” after the legendary supernatural birds depicted in stories and paintings found in many North American native cultures.
Over the past 61 years, the USAF Thunderbirds have been creating a legend of their own, as millions of people have witnessed their aeronautic demonstrations. The Thunderbirds embody the pride, professionalism and dedication of American Airmen, serving around the world.
Since 1953, there have been a number of changes for the Thunderbirds. In 1956, they moved their home base to Nellis AFB near Las Vegas, NV. They have also utilized several different aircraft over the years.
In over 60 seasons of touring, millions of Americans have been wowed and awed by the USAF Thunderbirds. The pilots demonstrate amazing control over their aircraft, evident in the precision of their maneuvers. This can only be accomplished through thorough knowledge of their aircraft. Many of today’s military aviators credit the USAF Thunderbirds, and the shows they saw as children, as the reason why they are in their profession today.
Modern demonstrations usually consist of approximately 40 maneuvers, featuring formation flying and solo routines. The entire show, including the beginning ground ceremony, lasts about one hour. A typical air show travel season extends from March to November.
The USAF Thunderbirds have finalized their 2015 show schedule. The team is set to perform 71 demonstrations at 39 locations next year.
The Thunderbirds will perform its first public event of 2015 at the opening of Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix, AZ on February 1st. The remainder of the schedule is as follows:
- Feb. 22: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL
- March 8: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV
- March 14-15: Titusville, FL
- March 21-22: Lancaster, CA
- March 28-29: Keesler AFB, MS
- March 31- April 5: Easter Break
- April 11-12: Tyndall AFB, FL
- April 18: Louisville, Ky.KY
- April 25-26: Lakeland, FL
- May 2-3: Dyess AFB, TX
- May 9-10: Millville, NJ
- May 16-17: Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
- May 23-24: Wantagh (Jones Beach), NY
- May 28: U.S. Air Force Academy, CO
- May 30-31: Aurora, CO
- June 6-7: Waco, TX
- June 13-14: Whiteman AFB, MO
- June 20-21: Dayton, OH
- June 27-28: Mankato, MN
- July 4-5: Traverse City, MI
- July 11-12: Gary, IN
- July 18-19: Niagara Falls, NY
- July 22: Cheyenne, WY
- July 25-26: Milwaukee, WI
- July 28 – August 2: Mid-Season Break
- August 8-9: La Crosse, WI
- Aug. 15-16: Ellsworth AFB, SD
- Aug. 22-23: Open Date
- Aug. 29-30: Midland, TX
- Sept. 5-7: Cleveland, OH
- Sept. 12-13: Owensboro, KY
- Sept. 19-20: JB Andrews, MD
- Sept. 26-27: Millington, TN
- Oct. 3-4: Mather (Sacramento), CA
- Oct. 10-11: Grand Junction, CO
- Oct. 17-18: Houston, TX
- Oct. 24-25: Lake Charles, LA
- Oct. 31-1 Nov.: JBSA Randolph, TX
- Nov. 7-8: Moody AFB, GA
Include your family in the tradition of legendary American aviation by attending a USAF Thunderbird show in 2015.
To learn more about the Thunderbirds, visit www.afthunderbirds.com
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Military Connection: Thunderbird 2015 Show Schedule: By Debbie Gregory