Thunderbirds are Go!

The F-16s of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds have been wowing crowds at airshows in the USA and overseas for years. Their tight displays and precision movements impress and delight people. The jets are painted white, have a red-tipped nose and tail and have a proud blue Thunderbirds on the underside. Small flags of each country operating the Viper are located just behind the canopy.

The T’bids were formed in 1952, with their first show season in 1953, and are the third oldest display team, behind the Blue Angels and Patrouille de France. They started off with the F-84G/F Thunderjet/streak, then the F-100C Super Sabre, upgrading to the mighty F-4E Phantom, then the T-38A Talon and finally the F-16C Fighting Falcon.

Luke Air Force Base, Arizona was the first to host the team from 1952-56 before moving to their current home at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The climate and lack of bad weather makes the South West of America the perfect place to be based for training and practice. The team often practice at neighbouring Creech Air Force Base during busy periods at their home.

The team operated the F-4E from 1969 – 1973 and it was the only time both USAF and USN display teams flew the same aircraft. Unfortunately the oil crisis in the 1970s ended the expensive and maintenance heavy Phantom. 1974 saw the introduction of the T-38. Four T-38s could be operated for the same cost as a single F-4. Quite some difference.

These images were taken in October 2016 at the Fort Worth Alliance Airshow during a sunset and sunrise photoshoot. I was going to add captions to the images, but I feel they speak for themselves. I hope you enjoy them.

Full resolution images are available here and can be purchased.

Thanks very much to Debra Hale at the Alliance Airshow and Fort Worth Alliance Airport for access and the opportunity to shoot the USAF Thunderbirds.

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