Thunderbirds fly high at Moody - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Thunderbirds fly high at Moody

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October 22, 2007

Valdosta - They are the best of the best, 120 airmen hand selected by the Air Force to be a part of their Air Demonstration Squadron, also known as the Thunderbirds.

"We are chosen to come out of the regular part of the air force and represent the 514 thousand men and women who serve everyday," says Lt. Col. Rob Skelton, pilot of Thunderbird number seven.

They perform in air shows all over the country featuring in-air stunts and gut wrenching maneuvers with just a foot and half separating one another. The shows open to anyone willing to watch and in plane tours to any willing journalist with an itch for adrenaline and a stomach of steal.

Unfortunately our flight was grounded due to weather but I still got a chance to hang out with the T-bird team.

Each one must have at least 12 years experience to join.  "We want to bring the folks in who've had experience, a certain amount of flying hours, professional and experience levels," Skelton says.

And still be able to enjoy every minute.  "The butterflies are there, the chills are there every time I go up and fly."

And being on the road more than 200 days a year, always putting service before self and rising to each new challenge.  "I was looking for a new challenge, something new, get out there and see that world and take advantage of the opportunities the Air Force has given me," says SSgt Shaun Branan, crew chief for number seven.

The Thunderbirds have now left Moody Air Force base, destined for an air show in New Orleans. By the end of the year they will have performed for five million spectators.

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