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So You Want To Be A Member of the USAF Thunderbirds

thunderbirds in flight 1

If you want to be a USAF Thunderbirds pilot, here is what you need to know. 

Thunderbirds #4 pilot Maj. Curtis Dougherty says it takes a great deal of training to become a member the air demonstration team. He says first you have to be an experienced pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

You need at least 3 but more likely 5 to 7 years of flight experience before you can apply. Then we put you through a rigorous training program. Over the course of the winter it’s as many as 2 flights a day, typically five days a week. It takes about 100 flights to learn how to fly this airplane in the formations we fly.

He says the team includes support officers who perform expert medical, administrative, maintenance and public affairs functions and more than 120 enlisted personnel, representing nearly 30 career fields.

Dougherty says if it looks like they fly extremely close in some of their maneuvers, that’s because they do.

About five to eight feet as close as three feet. When we do our arrowhead loop during our show on Wednesday, I get as close as 18 inches from the Commander leader, directly under the aft portion of his aircraft.

Dougherty adds that the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon’s they fly are part of the USAF combat force and if required, can be rapidly integrated into an operational fighter.

The Thunderbirds Cheyenne Frontier Days show will be Wednesday July 23 beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The Wyoming Highway patrol says College Drive will close at 7:30 am to through traffic from Fox Farm Road to Avenue C and only spectator parking for the show will be allowed to proceed. The same section of College Drive will close to all traffic at 9:00 am so arrive early to the show to make sure you do not miss out on the excitement.

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