US Air Force Thunderbirds to perform flyover before start of 104th Indy 500

Indy 500

Photo courtesy of IMS

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INDIANAPOLIS– The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform a pre-race flyover Sunday for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500.

“America’s Ambassadors in Blue” – officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron – will fly in their signature “Delta” formation over a largely-empty Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).

No fans will be allowed inside the track for the race on Aug. 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The green flag is set for 2:30 p.m.

“It’s a great privilege for IMS to welcome the United States Air Force Thunderbirds for the pre-race flyover for the 104th Indianapolis 500,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “The race always has paid tribute to the dedicated service and sacrifice of men and women of America’s Armed Forces and is a celebration of patriotic pride, and the precision and skill of these elite Thunderbirds pilots will be appreciated by the worldwide television audience and also by the residents of Indianapolis and Central Indiana as they look to the skies.”

The flyover will feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons.

The Thunderbirds typically perform hour-long aerial demonstrations at air shows across the United States from March to November, but most of their performances are canceled this year due to the pandemic.

Instead, the team worked with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels to do flyovers in several cities in April and May to celebrate frontline workers.

“Supporting the Indy 500 is a great honor for the team and Air Force,” said. Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbirds commander and leader. “This spectacular event provides an amazing opportunity to showcase the pride, precision and professionalism of the 693,000 total force Airmen to race fans viewing from around the world.”

The flight demonstration team is made up of Lieutenant Colonel John Caldwell, Thunderbird No. 1, Thunderbird commander and lead pilot; Major Trevor Aldridge, Thunderbird No. 2, Left Wing pilot; Major Michael Brewer, Thunderbird No. 3, Right Wing pilot; Major Zane Taylor, Thunderbird No. 4, Slot Pilot; Major Michelle Curran, Thunderbird No. 5, Lead Solo; and Major Kyle Oliver, Thunderbird No. 6, Opposing Solo.

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