History of the Air Force Thunderbirds - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio


History of the Air Force Thunderbirds

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Power, precision, pride.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are the epitome of a team and all this week, Derek Steyer will have an exclusive, in depth look at the worlds best air demonstration squad.

First up, a history lesson. The Thunderbirds were formed in 1953. Seven officers and 22 enlisted personnel were selected for the squad. Their first air show, lasted only 15 minutes.

They've certainly come a long way in the past 60 years, performing thousands of shows for millions of people across the world.

"You get to see that your tax dollars are paying for young, bright American men and women who are going out and either working on these amazing jets, or whatever other job it may be. This team has 30 different career fields represented within the Air Force. It's a great way to showcase who the Air Force is to the American public," said SSGT Jarid Watson, a Video Production Specialist with the Air Force.

The Thunderbirds name is a nod to their southwestern roots, but they were originally called the "Stardusters". That name doesn't exactly paint a picture of power, precision and pride does it?

Coming up tonight at 11 p.m., Derek Steyer will Tell you how that name was vetoed.

Also, a deadly plane crash in 1982 nearly grounded this air demonstration squad.  Derek will also explain how a change of planes and one General's vision kept it going.
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