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Pikes Peak Regional Airshow to host USAF Thunderbirds This Weekend

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The tight precision flying of the Air Force Thunderbirds and the aerobatics of the Trojan Phlyers will highlight the Pikes Peak Regional Airshow this weekend in Colorado Springs.

This “Thunderbirds and Warbirds” airshow will mark the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force with popular aircraft demonstrations, great food, and an aviation themed kids zone on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets remain available online, and proceeds from the airshow will go directly to the neighboring air museums, including the Peterson Air and Space Museum.

The Thunderbirds six F-16C jets will perform their 40-minute display each afternoon demonstrating the actual maneuvers used in training or actual combat.

During the airshow as the Diamond Team of four jets soar overhead at nearly 400 m.p.h., each flying three feet apart, behind the crowd, the two solos are lining up for a high speed maneuver in which they make a close pass by one another from either side of the airfield.

“As the jets take to the skies and fly only a few feet from wing tip to wing tip, the crowd gets a glimpse of the awesome skills and capabilities that all fighter pilots must possess,” Thunderbird spokesperson Captain Sara Harper said. “The solo pilots integrate their own loud and proud routine exhibiting some of the maximum capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.”

The Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron is lead by LT. Col. Jason Heard aboard the Thunderbird 1 jet. The six demonstration pilots also include left wing pilot Major Ryan Bodenheimer aboard Thunderbird 2, Thunderbird 3 right wing Major Nate Hoffman, slot pilot Major Nick Krajicek in jet 4, and Major Alex Turner and Major Whit Collins performing as lead and opposing solos in jets 5 and 6.

Also scheduled to perform are the Wings of Blue parachute team, who will freefall from a vintage World War II B-17 plane and land at the center of the airfield. Later, two T-28B Trojan aircraft will perform both solo and formation aerobatics as the Trojan Phlyers take to the skies each day.

“The Pikes Peak Regional Air Show Heritage Flight for 2017 features two remarkable aircraft, the P-38 Lightning and the A-10 Thunderbolt II, honoring one man whose dedication to his pilots and the nation serves as inspiration for all, Col. Francis “Frank” Royal,” Airshow officials announced on Wednesday.

Static displays from the 21st Space Wing and Air Force Space Command will be on display on the tarmac so guests can receive an upclose look.

The two-day airshow will cater to children with the popular KidZone and Kids Fun Area — both designed to educate, inspire, and have fun as the aircraft soar above.

“A Kid Zone learning area will offer activities for kids of all ages,” said MSgt. Nathan Langford, airfield manager at nearby Peterson AFB. “They can get in a 1930s-era N3N biplane and get a simulated flying lesson, build their own paper airplanes and fly them, or draw and color airplanes. There will also be educational exhibits for the older kids.”

Colorado Springs Airport gates will open at 8:00 a.m. and the opening ceremony will begin at 11:50 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Airshow officials urge the public to arrive early, and to follow the airshow Facebook page for updated traffic and parking lot conditions.

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

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Charles Atkeison

Written by Charles Atkeison

Charles A Atkeison is a long time aerospace journalist having covered both military and civilian aviation, plus 30 space shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral. He has produced multimedia aerospace content for CNN, London's Sky News, radio, print, and the web for twenty years. From flying with his father at age 5 to soaring as a VIP recently with the Navy's Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbirds, Charles continues to enjoy all aspects of flight.

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