Air Force Thunderbirds to Perform ‘Captain Marvel’ Premiere Flyover

The Air Force Thunderbirds will celebrate the release of 'Captain Marvel' on March 4, while honoring one of their own. (Charles A Atkeison)

The Air Force Thunderbirds will perform several fly overs of the Los Angeles area on Monday to help promote the new movie Captain Marvel and to honor the squadron’s own fallen hero.

America’s Ambassadors in Blue announced on Thursday their six aircraft delta formation will soar above the Los Angeles and Hollywood area “during periodic maneuvers from 12:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.” PST. The flights will occur during the hours preceding the high profile red carpet world premiere of Marvel Studio’s new action movie.

The much anticipated film stars actress Brie Larson as the title character, Captain Carol Danvers, who transforms from her role as an Air Force F-16 Viper pilot to that of Captain Marvel. The fictional Capt. Danvers is featured in the cockpit of the F-16 and walking the aircraft flight line in several scenes from the trailer.

‘Captain Marvel’ Actress Brie Larson and Nellis AFB 57th Wing Commander Brig. General Jeannie Leavitt pause during aircraft training in January 2018. (USAF)

“This flyover is a unique moment to honor the men and women serving in the Armed Forces who are represented in Captain Marvel,” Thunderbirds Commander and lead pilot Lt. Col. John Caldwell stated on Thursday. “Being part of this event is a tremendous opportunity, and we look forward to demonstrating the pride, precision and professionalism of the 660,000 total force Airmen of the U.S. Air Force over the city of Los Angeles.”

During January 2018, Larson and her director, Anna Boden, visited the home of the Thunderbirds at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas to film scenes and prepare for the film. The Thunderbirds supported the production including Larsen’s high-G flight aboard a Viper.

Brie Larson during a training session at Nellis AFB with Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bagno in February 2018. (USAF/ Marvel Studios)

Thunderbirds slot pilot Maj. Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno and Lead Solo pilot Maj. Matt Kimmel were named to advise Larson and Boden during the opening months of 2018. They helped with the pilot’s narrative in how to preflight the aircraft and their daily traditions.

A short time after the film team wrapped production at Nellis, Maj. Del Bagno performed a morning training flight with his squadron north of their base. During a maneuver on April 4, “Cajun” Del Bagno experienced a negative 2-G (gravity) maneuver followed by a positive nearly 9-G maneuver causing the pilot to pass out. Seconds later, he regained consciousness too late and crashed into the desert floor.

“Executing this flyover is a fitting tribute to Cajun,” Maj. Kimmel said on Thursday. “He lived to share his passion for aviation with everyone he met and always left you with a smile. We carry his legacy each day and can’t wait to make him proud by showing off his U.S. Air Force and his team in his backyard.”

In addition to honoring Captain Marvel, the six pilots of the 2019 Thunderbirds will also fly over key locations including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Santa Monica Pier, and both Pepperdine and Cal. Tech Universities. The squadron will also pay a special tribute with a formation flight above Maj. Del Bagno’s hometown of Valencia.

(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)