The Thunderbirds are the U.S. Air Force's precision flight demonstration team. They were activated in 1953 as the 3600th Air Demonstration Team, the successor to earlier Air Force aerobatic teams including the Acrojets, Red Devils, Skyblazers, and Saber Knights, who flew flight demonstrations in the late 1940s and 50's. The Thunderbirds were originally based at Luke AFB, Arizona, until 1956 when they moved to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
The T-Birds have flown the F-84G Thunderjet (1953-55), F-84 Thunderstreak (1955-1956), F-100C Super Sabre (1956-64), F-105 Thunderchief (1964), F-100D Super Sabre (1964-69), F-4E Phantom II (1969-74), T-38 Talon (1974-83), and F-16A Fighting Falcon (1983-Present).
The squadron has performed in the United States and 57 countries, including Canada, China, Central and South America, Europe, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Guam, and Malasia. During their 48-year history they have displayed their flying skills before more than 300 million people in over 3,500 air demonstrations.
A Thunderbirds air demonstration is a mix of formation flying and solo routines. The four-aircraft diamond formation demonstrates the training and precision of Air Force pilots, while the solo aircraft highlight the maximum capabilities of the F-16.
The team performs approximately 30 maneuvers in a demonstration. The entire show, including ground and air, runs about an hour and fifteen minutes. The season lasts from March to November, with the winter months used to train new members.