The USAF Air Demonstration Squadron (“Thunderbirds”) is the air demonstration squadron of the United States Air Force (USAF). The Thunderbirds are assigned to the 57th Wing, and are based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Created 66 years ago in 1953.
The Thunderbirds Squadron tours the United States and much of the world, performing aerobatic formation and solo flying in specially marked aircraft. The squadron’s name is taken from the legendary creature that appears in the mythologies of several indigenous North American cultures, the Thunderbird!
Since the team’s inception, 325 officers have worn the distinguished emblem of “America’s Ambassadors in Blue.” Through selfless dedication, a desire to excel and a constant commitment to improvement, these leaders have channeled their efforts into making the Thunderbirds what they are today.
Every officer has a specific and crucial role in the broad Thunderbirds mission, and traditionally, officers assigned to the team adopt their number as their unofficial “call sign.” Eight of the 12 officers assigned to the team are highly experienced fighter pilots. Thunderbirds 1-6 fly in the air show demonstrations; Thunderbird 7 is the operations officer; and Thunderbird 8 is the advance pilot and narrator, coordinating last-minute logistical details at show sites and lending his voice to describe the maneuvers during the show. Thunderbirds 9-12 are support officers who perform expert medical, administrative, maintenance and public affairs functions.