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The United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the "Thunderbirds," is based at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), and performs all over the world. As a pilot, it is always thrilling to view their aerobatics in formation and also solo flying at both high and low speeds. I have viewed their performances on numerous occasions, both when a USAF pilot on active duty, and more recently, such as at the Langley AFB, Virginia, Air Show held on April 23-24, 2016. On one occasion, two friends and I were returning to Las Vegas from a weeklong shoot in Death Valley National Park in March 2015, when I saw an F-16 "Fighting Falcon" streaking across the desert at about 100 feet above the ground and at high speed. We pulled abeam the tower at Creech AFB in Indian Springs, Nevada, as the practice show was about to begin. For the next forty-five minutes, we were treated to segments of both the team's low altitude and high altitude programs. The former, the low altitude program, is utilized when weather becomes a factor and low ceilings, for example, preclude some of the high altitude elements of the show. The Thunderbirds are a superb example of precision aerobatic formation flying, as well as solo aircraft flight demonstrations. This team of excellent pilots, together with superior maintenance and support personnel provide a wonderful means of recruiting young folks who have an interest in flying, as well as demonstrating the air power capabilities of the United States Air Force.
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