SUN ’n FUN CAMPUS, LAKELAND, Fla. – The United States Air Force (USAF) Thunderbirds military jet team will headline next year’s SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo.
The 2013 SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo will be held April 9–14 at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL)in Lakeland, Fla.
“SUN ‘n FUN is honored and excited that the world’s most recognized military jet team – the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds – has included our event on their 2013 schedule,” said SUN ‘n FUN President and Convention Chairman John Leenhouts. “Their participation will add to the aircraft and activities already being planned for this year’s fly-in. We look forward to having the Thunderbirds here in Lakeland and know they will find the people and businesses throughout Lakeland, Polk County and central Florida to be avid enthusiasts and most hospitable hosts.”
The Thunderbirds plan to arrive at SUN ‘n FUN during the latter portion of the fly-in. Scheduled performances are on Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14.
According to the U.S. Air Force, the Thunderbirds (officially named the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron) perform precision aerial maneuvers demonstrating the capabilities of Air Force high-performance aircraft to people throughout the world. The Thunderbirds squadron is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, three civilians and more than 130 enlisted personnel performing in 25 career fields. The air demonstration is a combination of formation flying and solo routines.
The four-aircraft “Diamond Formation” demonstrates the training and precision of Air Force pilots, while the solo aircraft highlight the maximum capabilities of the F-16 “Fighting Falcon,” the fighter jet employed by the Thunderbird team.
The Thunderbirds perform approximately 30 maneuvers during their demonstration. The entire Thunderbird performance, including ground and air routines, runs about an hour and fifteen minutes.
In addition to their responsibilities as the official U.S. Air Force aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds are part of America’s active combat force. If required, the team’s personnel and aircraft can be quickly integrated into a fighter unit at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where the F-16s can be made combat-ready in less than 72 hours.