As we predicted a couple weeks ago, Thunderbirds 7 and 8 had a moment in the spotlight this past Saturday at the Thunder Over Louisville airshow when they thrilled the crowd with a mini-demonstration. As far as we are aware, this is the first dedicated aerial performance by 7 and 8 ever! It appears they showed the crowd just about as many different things as they could within the restrictions; a dirty pass, a high speed pass, some close formation work, and even a synchronized vertical climb out while headed directly at (the majority of) the crowd! Of course, it should be no surprise that these pilots put on an impressive display; both Thunderbird 7, Maj. Tyler Ellison, and Thunderbird 8, Maj. Scott Petz, are fully qualified and capable fighter pilots despite serving more supportive roles than the typical stars of the show, Thunderbirds 1-6. Still, it is very nice to see them getting a rare chance to show off for the public and represent the US Air Force in such a creative manner. Well done!
You can check out video of the Thunderbird’s mini-demo below, courtesy of WLKY:
In case you missed our previous posts about the many challenges faced by TOL organizers this year, this two-ship performance is the end result of a sudden and recent FAA decision to deny the larger aerobatic box required for the normal six-ship routine. This forced the team to cancel their traditional performance, but they still came through with a show for the fans. You can read more about the decision and other complications here, here, and here.