Thunderbirds perform 4,000th show

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, performed their 4,000th air show May 13 at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. The show was the team's 14th of the 2006 season.

“We perform about 70 air shows throughout the year, representing the 530,000 men and women in our Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Robbins, Thunderbirds commander. “We are proud to be able to go throughout the U.S. talking about our brothers and sisters in arms who are supporting the war on terror and putting bombs on targets daily. This 4,000th show is just another way to represent those people.”

The team crossed the 3,000th air show milestone on April 22, 1990, at Norfolk Naval Air Station, Va.

“I am very proud of our enlisted maintainers and the personal sacrifices they make daily,” said Senior Master Sgt. Mark Antunes, line chief. “We are extremely fortunate to represent the combat forces during this 4,000th show. The men and women on this team, constantly give 100 percent, just like the men and women currently deployed around the world."

While a lot of the credit for the team reaching the 4,000th air show falls on the shoulders of the maintenance team, there were many others involved as well. A team effort is what gets the job done every time, said Staff Sgt. Ray Moose, Thunderbirds airlift coordinator.

“This team can credit its standards of perfection to teamwork,” Sergeant Moose said. “All 122 handpicked team members have an A-plus personality, which means no one goes home until the last person’s job is done. We take a great amount of pride in each and every task we perform.”

As the team passes this milestone, they look to the future and what it will take to reach yet another history-making day: 5,000 shows.

“Our team is definitely capable of reaching that goal,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Acevedo, Thunderbirds information manager. “Every one of my enlisted teammates, upon the end of our three years, we will be replaced with another proud Airman who will continue our traditions and standards. This cycle is a small testament why America's Air Force is the world's most respected air and space force, and why the sky’s the limit for the legend of the Thunderbirds.”

Though the team hit a milestone, the celebration was short-lived. Two days after performing their 4,000th show, the team loaded up more than 56,000 pounds of cargo and headed back to their home at Nellis. On May 18, the Thunderbirds will make their way to Altus AFB, Okla., for another show.

The Thunderbirds started their travel season in March and will be on the road until mid-November; completing more than 70 shows this year in 35 states. For more information on the Thunderbirds, log onto www.airforce.com/thunderbirds.