Mark Your Calendar!
Chennault Airshow Takes to the Skies This Month On a day like any other in late May, 1953, four officers in the newly established U.S. Air Force climbed aboard F-84G Thunderjets and shocked the world of aviation with death-defying aerial maneuvers. Named for the Native American supernatural beast and conjurer of storms, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Jet Demonstration Team became a legend in aviation that day. Sixty-three years later, that same spirit of adventure thunders toward Chennault International Airport for the Kia of Lake Charles Chennault International Airshow on Oct. 24-25. The Thunderbirds will be the Airshow’s headlining act and accompanied by many thrilling performances by numerous daring aviators. “The Chennault Airshow is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Mary Jo Bayles, Airshow Director. “Beyond its awe-inspiring performances and demonstrations, the Airshow is a celebration of Southwest Louisiana’s rich aviation and military history.” After a year-long hiatus, the Airshow is pulling out all the stops to make a truly memorable experience for the whole family. Pyrotechnics, jet trucks, fearless aerial acts, kids’ activities and vintage aircraft will take over Chennault International Airport for two full days of excitement.
The Thunderbirds’ Legacy The Thunderbirds squadron is internationally recognized for their hard-charging demonstrations of precision formation flying and pushing 70 www.thriveswla.com
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their F-16s to the limit. The team was activated in 1953 at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona during the infancy of military aviation when the jet age was just beginning to boom. Seven officers and 22 enlisted servicemen sparked the beginnings of the Thunderbirds team, and they performed formation aerobatics in quick 15 minute intervals in F-84G Thunderjets. Over the years, the team’s increasingly advanced skills continued to redefine flight capabilities and required more agile aircraft. The team moved to the F-100C Super Sabre, which allowed for supersonic demonstrations. The Federal Aviation Administration eventually prohibited all supersonic flights during airshows, which is still in effect today. Throughout the decades, the team had flown the F-100, the McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom and the T-38A Talon. In 1982, the Thunderbirds embraced the latest advancement in fighter technology and adopted their signature red, white and blue F-16 Fighting Falcons. 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 most impressive capabilities of the F-16. Since 1953, over 300 officers and 100 enlisted personnel have embodied the mission of the Thunderbirds team as “America’s Ambassadors in Blue.” The October 2015
October 2015 Issue of Thrive