Thunderbirds pull into Duluth ahead of MLB All-Star game

By KBJR News 1

July 13, 2014 Updated Jul 13, 2014 at 9:51 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flew into Duluth's 148th Fighter Wing this afternoon... and what a sight it was, but what about a pilot's eye view.
Our own Bryce Henry got a unique chance to fly high above the Northland in an F-16 with one of the pilots.

They're in town to do a flyover at the MLB All-Star game in Minneapolis, but there's good reason why they're storing their planes at Duluth's 148th Fighter Wing.

"The 148th has fantastic support services for F-16's and of course we're going to do the fly over for the MLB All-Star game here in a little bit, so it's kind of native support right here and we're happy they were opening their doors to let us come here" said Major Darrick Lee, Public Affairs Officer for the Thunderbirds.

And I was quite happy the Thunderbirds opened their door to me and in order to fly.
It takes a medical screening and plenty of training, which are well worth it.

"And then we'll go up, I'll say into the float as I ease off the G, so you relax a little bit out of the top, look out of the airplane at the ground" said Major Michael Fisher, Thunderbird 8 Advanced Pilot and Narrator for the Thunderbirds.

Of course, I had to ask what they'll be doing at the All-Star game.

"We'll have a couple of folks on the ground at the game that are working the deconfliction and timing plan and we'll have six jets airborne doing the flyover just before the game starts" said Fisher.

And I got a first-hand look at most of the maneuvers that everyone will see from below at the game.

"We did the clover loop, the loop, the barrel roll as well as all the solo maneuvers out there, the four point roll, the eight point roll, knife-edge, inverted flat pass, inverted to inverted flat pass, as well as some vertical rolls and a nice six-and-a-half G pull" said Fisher.

It's really difficult to describe the amazing feeling that these planes can put when you do these different maneuvers, but one thing I can say, it takes a large and talented crew to keep the planes up to speed
.
The Thunderbird team of 130 airmen comes from the traditional Air Force, and each person has a unique roll to make the inspiring show possible.

"For those that don't know what airmen can do, the Thunderbirds are the folks that show them. We teach them about aviation. We inspire them to do great things, whether on the ground or in the air" said Lee.

And with a view like this from the high above the Northland, who couldn't be inspired.

The Thunderbirds have previously flown in the Duluth Air Show, and although they won't be participating this year, there's a chance you can see them in 2016.

Bryce Henry
bhenry@kbjr.com

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