Thunderbirds Take Show Down Under
(October 5, 2009)
|TOWNSVILLE, Australia (9/29/2009 - AFNS) -- The U.S. Air Force Aerial
Demonstration Team, the Thunderbirds, took to the Australian sky Sept. 26
showcasing the power and precision that embodies Air Force Airmen worldwide. |
|The Air Force Thunderbirds flying in F-16
Fighting Falcons make their way to Townsville, Australia, Sept. 21,
2009, from Hickam Air Force Base Hawaii. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff
Sgt. Kristi Machado
Flying wingtip-to-wingtip formations and in solo maneuvers, the Thunderbirds put
on a show for a crowd of more than 70,000 spectators lining the beach in
Townsville and filling the balconies of hotels for miles around. |
"When I was 12, I actually had a Thunderbirds replica model," said Jason
Bitossi, a local man who enjoyed the Thunderbirds' recent visit "down under"
with his son, Kyle.
The Thunderbirds typically travel from mid-March to Mid-November in the
continental United States, and only travel overseas semi-annually. It's been
more than a decade since the Thunderbirds performed in Australia; however, the
airshow was about much more than the aerial demonstration. While hundreds of
man-hours went into the planning and execution of the show, the relationship
between America and Australia goes back much further.
"Many people don't realize that Australia is the only ally that has stood
shoulder-to-shoulder with America in every conflict dating back to World War I,"
said Maj. Tony Mulhare, the Thunderbirds advance pilot/narrator. "This airshow
is an opportunity to strengthen bonds that date back nearly a century."
Indeed, right now there are Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen deployed to
locations throughout the Middle East in support of coalition forces. The Royal
Australian Air Force has provided fighter jets as well as combat airlift
capability during operations in Southwest Asia. The RAAF also provided a
location in Australia for the Thunderbirds to park the jets and perform
Townsville Air Force Base officials welcomed the public with an open house Sept.
27, giving locals and tourists alike an up-close experience of the Thunderbirds.
In addition to the Thunderbirds, RAAF aircraft on static display included the
F-111, F-18, and the DHC-4 Caribou.
"It's such a thrill to be able to meet the pilots we saw flying yesterday," said
Miranda Ryan, a camp counselor who brought more than 20 children out to the base
to get up close and personal with the pilots and support personnel.
The Townsville Air Show is the second stop on the Thunderbirds' Far East tour
following two performances in Hawaii. The six-week tour also includes stops
scheduled for Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
By USAF TSgt. Randy Redman
U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Team Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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