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Thunderbirds arrive for Youngstown air show

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VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio - The skilled crew of U.S. Air Force pilots and their team are on the ground, preparing of this weekend's Thunder Over the Valley event at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

The skilled airmen, known for their close quarter aerial stunts, touched down just before noon Tuesday flying their F-16 Phantom jets.

The jets arrived flying in formation at treetop level.

Major Curtis Dougherty, from Downingtown, Pennsylvania flies in what is called the slot position, at the back of the diamond formation.  He said takes a clear mind and a steady hand.

"In terms of speed could be anywhere from 300 miles per hour up to 550, or so. In terms of proximity, when we get into our tightest formations we can be as close as three feet," said Major Doughtery.

Flying with the Thunderbirds may seem like a star assignment, but the major said they represent all air force aviators.

"We represent a group of combat aviators across the spectrum in fighters, cargo aircraft and bombers. And, all types of aircraft that are ultimately capable of doing exactly what we do. We just have the good fortune of representing them on the road," said Doughtery.

At the controls of plane #3 will be Major Caroline Jensen, the third woman to fly with the Thunderbirds.  The other members of the air show team include aircraft maintenance crews and other support personnel. 

The Thunderbirds will perform Saturday and Sunday afternoon on both days of the air show.

You can find more about parking, schedules and other information on the air show by following this link.

Complete information about the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds can be found here.
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