Thunder Aircraft arrive at Kentucky Air National Guard

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Phil Speck
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The military aircraft slated to participate in this weekend's Thunder Over Louisville air show began arriving at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base today.

Six U.S. Navy Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornets, the Blue Angels' C-130 support aircraft and the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team all arrived here before noon.

The Blue Angels' flight demonstration will showcase the choreographed refinement of skills possessed by all naval aviators, according to Lt. Ryan Chamberlain, Blue Angel number seven, air show narrator and VIP pilot.

"The fans will see the pride and professionalism of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps," Chamberlain said of the Blue Angels show, scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

"You're going to see formation flying as close as 18 inches, you're going to see airspeeds approaching just under the speed of sound, crossing maneuvers at 1,000 miles per hour and an overall showcase of what its like to be in naval aviation."

Chamberlain said the demonstration will give citizens a good opportunity to see the capabilities of Naval aviation up close, fostering stronger ties between the military and civilian communities.

"The Navy and Marine Corps are all about naval aviation," he said. "We can't bring an aircraft carrier to Louisville, but we can bring the Blue Angels. We're used to flying great aircraft off of great aircraft carriers, and we can bring that experience with the Blue Angels to the people of Louisville."

The Blue Angels demonstration will start with the C-130, affectionately known as Fat Albert. Shortly thereafter, the team's F/A-18 pilots will demonstrate a four-jet Diamond Formation in concert with the fast-paced, high-performance maneuvers of two solo pilots. Finally, the team will illustrate precision flying by performing maneuvers while locked as a unit in the six-jet Delta Formation.

Also arriving this morning for the air show was the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor, the world's most sophisticated and capable fighter aircraft.

"The aspects that make the F-22 superior to other fighters are three things," said Capt. Ryan Shelhorse, F-22 flight commander and demo team safety observer. "Supercruise, the ability to get to mach without afterburners; integrated avionics, allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected; and stealth, which allows the plane to operate in an environment where other aircraft typically can not.

"Viewers of the air show will see a world-class act and high-performance enhanced maneuvers," Shelhorse added.

Joining the F/A-18 and F-22 will be aircraft from the German and Canadian air forces, as well as local and national aerobatic acts.

Military aircraft participating in the show will once again be operating from the Kentucky Air National Guard Base, whose Airmen have provided hundreds of hours of support to Thunder.

"The Kentucky Air National Guard is always pleased to support Thunder Over Louisville, which kicks off the Kentucky Derby Festival each year," said Capt. Josh Ketterer, Thunder coordinator for the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing.

"By partnering with the Kentucky Derby Festival, we have an incredible opportunity to reach a tremendous amount of people and share with them the amazing capabilities of America's military aircraft and the dedicated men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces."

The air show is expected to reach an audience of up to 1 million, organizers said.