Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid
The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron "Thunderbirds" perform the Line Abreast Loop during the Gulf Coast Salute and Open House Air show at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Mar. 26, 2011.
The Air Force Thunderbirds
will return to the skies, including their flyover demonstration at the Air Force Academy's graduation
on May 28, after being grounded this year due to sequestration.
On March 1, the Air Force announced it had cancelled all aviation support to public events, including the Thunderbirds' aerial demonstration team "to save flying hours to support readiness needs." This included canceling support for air shows, trade shows, flyovers such as for funerals and military graduations and the like.
The entire Thunderbirds season was cancelled starting April 1
“Engaging with the public is a core Air Force mission and communicating and connecting with the public is more important today than ever before. However, faced with deep budget cuts, we have no choice but to stop public aviation support,” Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick
, director of Air Force Public Affairs, said in a release back then. “The Air Force will reevaluate the program at the end of the fiscal year and look for ways to curtail the program without having to cancel aviation support altogether.”
Now, the Air Force is reinstating the Thunderbirds' season, according to this news release:
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have finalized their 2014 show schedule and will return to the Air Force
Academy to fly at the Class of 2014's graduation ceremony.
In its 61st season, the Thunderbirds team is slated to perform 66 demonstrations at 34 locations.
The Thunderbirds, officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, will perform its first public flyover of 2014 at the opening of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1.
The Thunderbirds make one appearance in Colorado, to fly May 28, 2014 over Falcon Stadium and the Class of 2014's graduation ceremony.
The announcement of the Thunderbirds schedule confirms the Defense Department's commitment to supporting community engagement. Last October, in an internal memo to military service chiefs, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stressed a continuing need to maintain military demonstration teams.
"Community and public outreach is a crucial Departmental activity that reinforces trust and confidence in the United States Military and in its most important asset - people," Hagel asserted. "It is our obligation to sustain that trust well into the future."
The remainder of the schedule is available online at: