Aviation Students to Learn Airshow Ground Ops from USAF Thunderbirds

The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds” perform the Line Abreast Loop during the Gulf Coast Salute and Open House Air show at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Mar. 26, 2011.
(U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.)

Lake Superior College aviation students, including professional pilots and aviation maintenance technicians, will have the opportunity to meet the USAF Thunderbirds officers and crew and learn about air show demonstration ground operations. The approximately two-hour briefing will take place on Friday, July 6, at 8:30 a.m. at Lake Superior College’s Center for Advanced Aviation, CAA RM 120, Hangar 103, 4960 Airport Road.

“We’re excited for our aviation students to meet and talk with the officers and crew in person,” said Dan Traska, director of LSC’s Center for Advanced Aviation. “They will be privy to a full operational briefing about what it takes to orchestrate a precise air show demonstration, including learning about the specific roles each team member plays, their training and background.”

Officially, the Thunderbirds are known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron. The Thunderbirds squadron is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and more than 100 enlisted personnel performing in almost 30 job specialties.

The Thunderbirds will perform at the Duluth Air and Aviation Expo on July 7-8, 2018. A Thunderbirds air demonstration is a mix of formation flying and solo routines. The four-jet diamond formation demonstrates the training and precision of Air Force pilots, while the lead and opposing solo aircraft highlight some of the maximum capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The pilots perform approximately 40 maneuvers in a demonstration. The entire show, including the ground show and air demonstration, lasts about 75 minutes. More than 280 million people in all 50 states and 57 foreign countries have seen the red, white and blue Thunderbirds jets in more than 3,500 aerial demonstrations.

Located in the Duluth International Airport, Lake Superior College’s Center for Advanced Aviation is home to the professional pilot, private pilot ground school and aviation maintenance technician programs.