VIENNA, Ohio (WKBN) – They are fast, and they are loud. And with their distinctive red, white and blue markings, they are known all over the country: The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
The group of seven planes flew in to the Air Reserve Station in Vienna about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey where they performed over the weekend.
The demonstration team arrived at the Air Reserve Station ahead of this weekend’s Thunder over the Valley Air Show. The Thunderbirds immediately began performing some of the stunts they’re famous for while giving themselves an idea of the local terrain. “We have the opportunity to find visual references, things that will point us in the right direction to make sure that the crowd gets the ideal view for all the moves that we are trying to fly,” said Thunderbirds Pilot Major Curtis Dougherty.
Dougherty is one of just eight pilots with the team which has close to 130 members who perform everything from maintenance to communications in order to keep the F-16’s in perfect condition. Dougherty said the aircraft go upwards of about 550 miles per hour, not to mention breathtakingly close to the ground and each other. Each of the pilots must apply for their positions and then stay with the team two or three years. They put in more than sixty shows each season around the country.
“It is extremely, extremely exciting,” said Dougherty. “I have a hard time putting into words the amount of pride I feel putting on this uniform.”
And when the Thunderbirds take flight his weekend, there will be no doubt that something amazing is in the air.
“It will ultimately be loud. It will be fast, and it should be extremely fun,” said Dougherty.
Parking will be available at Eastwood Field, 111 Eastwood Mall Blvd. in Niles and at Delphi-Packard Electric Systems on the corner of North River Rd. and Larchmont in Warren, Ohio. The show will be open to the public May 17 and May 18.
Parking lots will open at 8 a.m. and the show will open at 9 a.m.The opening ceremony will be at 11:30 a.m., and the air show will run from noon to 5 p.m. Ground exhibits will be displayed from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.