Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thunderbirds Roar Over U.S. Capitol

ANDREWS AFB, MARYLAND - The world renown U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, roared into the skies over Maryland and Washington, D.C. today in preparation for Armed Forces Day. They are part of the 57th Annual Joint Services Open House Air Show, at Andrews Air Force Base. The three day event began today under overcast skies. The Air Show runs through Sunday May 17th. While some of the most unimaginable aerial stunts take place in the sky, there is plenty to see on the ground that include; static displays of airplanes, jets, helicopters, boats, missile launchers, and more. Representatives of all branches of government, flying clubs, and commercial vendors fill the nearby hangers and flight apron. The theme of recognizing the sacrifices and commitment of the U.S. Armed Forces was celebrated throughout the event.

Celebrating 56 years of precision aerial maneuvers, in front of countless audiences around the world, the Thunderbirds are one of the main attractions, along with the Army's premier parachute team, the Golden Knights. There are also daring aerial acts from the Red Bull sponsored MiG, flown by Bill Reesman, and the only civilian pilot to be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to perform aerobatics in a helicopter, Chuck Aaron. This helicopter demonstration has to be seen to be believed as the specially aircraft does flips, rolls and turns upside down.

One of the newer teams on the air show circuit is the Collaborators Formation Aerobatic Team, that brings 4 veteran pilots together in a high energy performance that is unforgettable. The performance put on by Sean D. Tucker, Eric Tucker, Bill Stein and Ben Freelove is fast paced and heart stopping with the close calls, engine stalls, spins and unusual attitudes.

The roar of the F-22 Raptor, the Air Force's newest fighter aircraft can be felt in your chest as it roars past the crowd, using only a fraction of its capability. The 44.5 foot wingspan looks like a ship from Star Trek with its sharp cuts and angles.

The world famous GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team was back again this year with their six SNJ planes, also known as the T-6 Texan by the Army Air Corp in World War II. This team from New York put on a great aerobatic demonstration that includes writing messages in the sky with letters as tall as the Empire State Building.

To commemorate the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and liberation of Europe the Liberty Jump Team is scheduled to drop both static line and HALO jumpers from a WWII vintage C-47 this weekend. The team made its first jump in France in 2006 and went on to form a larger group to perpetuate the remembrance of not only the brave men and women of World War II but all Veterans of all wars.

The U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight included several flybys of the F-22, P-51 Mustang and A-10 Wart Hog in formation. The WWII P-51 led the team and was a bit overshadowed with the power and size of its two wingman. The Heritage Flight was originally going to be a onetime flyby in 1997 to recognize the Air Force's 50th anniversary, but became so popular they have kept it in air shows ever since.

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