Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds

Today is the United States Air Force Academy graduation. Every year the Air Force’s most skilled pilots, the Thunderbird Squadron, descend on Colorado Springs for several days of practice flights. As I write this post I can hear them outside my house practicing for tomorrow’s performance. It is truly a magnificent arial ballet to see these jets fly in such tight formations, to pass within inches of one another on high speed flybys. To watch as they perform maneuvers that the G-force alone would make most of us fall unconscious, but they execute with such precision that it leaves all of us watching in awe and wonder.

These photos were taken by my wife last year during the actual show. President Obama was in attendance at the Air Force Academy’s stadium. The show itself went off without a hitch, but afterwards when the planes were returning to the landing strip east of town one of these jets experienced a failure and lost thrust, the pilot had to execute a crash landing. As a testament to how great these pilots are this one maneuvered the dead aircraft away from homes and towards an empty field before ejecting. As a result no one was injured and while the $29 million dollar plane was totaled in the forced landing it was still mostly intact after the crash.

Pike Flyby
The Thunderbirds pass in front of Pikes Peak.
Formation
All 6 jets of the squadron fly in tight formation

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