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Thunderbirds, Civilian Aerobatics to Highlight Melbourne Air and Space Show

Air Force Boss says Thunderbirds will ‘blow the doors off of houses’

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform in the shadow of America's Space Program during Melbourne Air show on March 24 and 25. (U.S. Air Force)

MELBOURNE, Fla. — The precision flying of the Air Force Thunderbirds combined with the aerobatic performances of the nation’s top civilian pilots will highlight the Melbourne Air and Space Show in March.

Military performances combined with civilian aerobatics by Scott Yoak piloting his P-51D Mustang Quicksilver and Adam Baker aboard the Playful Extra 330, are poised to take flight over America’s Space Coast on March 24 and 25. The show was rescheduled for one week later than planned due to a shift in the Thunderbirds season schedule.

“We are thrilled to be able to host the Thunderbirds for their season opener,” Air and Space Show Chairman Bryan Lilley said on Friday. “What a way to celebrate the 5th anniversary of our event at the Orlando Melbourne International Airport.”

The Air Force Thunderbirds soar above Cape Canaveral, Florida prior to the 2017 Melbourne Air and Space Show. (U.S. Air Force)

The Air Force’s premier jet demonstration team will launch into their 65th anniversary season over Melbourne, performing many of the same aircraft maneuvers used in combat situations. Both the Thunderbirds pilots and maintenance personnel will display their attitude for excellence as they kick-off each 40 minute flight demonstration with a sharp opening ceremony followed by the departure of each of the six F-16 Fighting Falcons.

“We are incredibly excited to kick off the 2018 demonstration season in Melbourne,” Thunderbirds commander and pilot Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh stated on this week. “The team is training hard through the winter getting ready to perform a phenomenal demonstration. We are fired up to get out there and showcase the pride, precision, and professionalism of your United States Air Force.”

America’s Ambassadors in Blue will provide the thrust each day as they mix the formation flying of the four jet diamond team with the high-speed maneuvers and close passes by the two solos. In all, the Thunderbirds new commander promises an exciting time as they promote the mission of the Air Force.

“When we have safely completed our training and are ready to hit the road, we’re going to blow the doors off of houses around the country,” Walsh added with a grin. “By doing so, we will recruit the next generation of Airmen, we will retain those who have raised their right hand to defend this great country, and we will inspire people from around the world, to be better versions of themselves.”
Melbourne Air and Space Show performer Scott Yoak pilots his P-51D Mustang “Quicksilver’ in October 2017. (Charles A Atkeison)

Vintage and current aircraft, both civilian and military, will also be placed on static display. Guests can get up close with several historic aircraft poised on the airport’s tarmac as aircraft and jets screech across the sky above.

The U.S. Special Operations Command Parachute Team will drop in with the American flag to begin the opening ceremonies each day. US-SOCOM is made up of veterans from the Navy, Air Force, Marines, Army, and U.S. government civilians assigned to the Special Operations Command. The opening ceremonies will begin at 11:30 a.m. each day.

A variety of ticket packages and single ticket purchases remain available via the air show website. Show officials have asked that attendees and guests follow their social media sites for important updates and traffic information during the show weekend.

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