Newer F-16s allow team to add new maneuvers
By Erik Holmes - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Mar 11, 2009 17:32:26 EDT
The Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Thunderbirds, kicks off its 2009 air show season Thursday with its annual acceptance show at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
The acceptance show gives the commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. John Corley, a chance to preview the demonstration and sign off on the 2009 program before the Thunderbirds hit the road.
The season officially starts March 21 with a show at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., and concludes Nov. 15 at Nellis.
The acceptance show will be the team%u2019s first chance to show off its newer block 52 F-16 jets, which feature more powerful engines and advanced avionics.
The additional thrust will allow the Thunderbirds to start off each show with a bang. Within a few seconds of lifting off the runway, a four-aircraft diamond-formation loop will execute a full loop.
The team also is spicing up the maneuvers flown by the two solo pilots, who fly much of the show separate from the diamond formation.
This year, some of the solo maneuvers will be replaced by more challenging opposing maneuvers in which the two solo aircraft fly at each other on an apparent collision course before narrowly missing.
I'll be seeing the team six times this year (though two times will be over the ocean) and I'm looking forward to seeing the diamond loop on takeoff! I know the Blues do it, but it'll be the first time I've seen the Thunderbirds do it. I really think 23:44-25:33 should come back... that was pretty cool if you ask me!