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Question About Usaf Thunderbirds

Thu Sep 12, 2002 5:42 pm

In 1999 when I was studying at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University,I learned that Thunderbirds display team were going to visit Patrick AFB for a show.Iwas very excited that they are coming this close so I went there to watch.After great shows by other aircraft like A-10,WWII fighters,and Golden Knights,it was the time for the Thunderbirds.They started up with their great ceremony,walking formations,climbing leadders same time,great discipline.They taxied to the runway.The runway was behind the position that we spectators sitting so I only saw them taking off with formation and break away immidiately.Later They've landed one by one after flying around 5000 ft for almost 15 minutes.They parked to a distant place.The commentator came up and said the show was cancelled due to "bad weather".Yes there was some thunderstorms forming in distance but that was not a surprise.I am sure somebody checks weather before taking the team up in the air,if weather was really a concern they've had to cancelled before.It was my last days of flight training at ERAU so I never had a chance to learn what really the cause was.After some time I was visiting Thunderbirds website I read"After last years incident, Thunderbirds started working for the new display season"The place and cause of the incident wasn't stated.So my question is does any one knows what happened that day,can this "incident" may be related with what I saw?Thank for any info.Have a nice day

PS:My hearth goes with the victims and their families of Sept 11.
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RE: Question About Usaf Thunderbirds

Thu Sep 12, 2002 7:11 pm

As you know lightning can have an impact on electronics from quite a distance away.
It can also strike a long way from the nearest thunderhead.

Maybe one of them got hit by lightning, or suffered a malfunction due to electrical interference.
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RE: Question About Usaf Thunderbirds

Thu Sep 12, 2002 10:05 pm

As far as I remember (I've rechecked my video footage also)it was not a weather that can genarate a lightning a that moment in addition to that thunderstormy weather makes a lot of gusty winds and rain which may cause the show to be cancelled at the first place.Think about that some of the stunts they perform like loups needs alot of space which allow them to stay in formation.Also Thunderbirds carry 2 additional aircraft just incase they suffer a mulfunction.I was rather thinking about a contact between two or more aircraft during formation take off or just after take off.Any comfirmation about this?
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RE: Question About Usaf Thunderbirds

Fri Sep 13, 2002 10:13 am


Your suspicions are correct. Weather did not cancel the show that day.

The link below is one of several on the website "News" section that refers to this incident. From what I remember, two of the jets in the diamond formation made physical contact on takeoff. One of the pilots was later removed from the team.

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