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The United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds” returned to Spaceport America on Jan. 9, for two weeks of winter training, according to a press release. This is the third visit to Spaceport America by the USAF display team since September 2021.
“Spaceport America is honored that the USAF Thunderbirds selected our site again for their winter training” said New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s Executive Director Scott McLaughlin. “The team of over 70 people have stayed in the local area for the last 2 weeks and have created a significant economic impact in this region. We wish the Thunderbirds the best of luck as they prepare for their display season, and we hope to see them back again soon.”
The Thunderbirds’ training season, from November through March, is a time to integrate and synchronize the team and practice the demonstration display. The 2023 winter training trip kicked off at Spaceport America, New Mexico and will continue to Edwards Air Force Base in California.
The team features six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft. Assigned to Air Combat Command, the squadron is composed of 12 officers and more than 130 enlisted personnel serving in nearly 30 Air Force job specialties.
2022 saw the first winter training by the USAF Thunderbirds outside of their homebase at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The decision was made to increase aerospace opportunity and flexibility for the team’s training needs, while also allowing them to practice in conditions of increasing difficulty.
The USAF Thunderbirds have a rigorous schedule, performing hour-long demonstrations across the world for nearly 30 weekends between March and November. The team’s first public performance takes place Feb. 19, when they will perform a flyover at the DAYTONA 500.