VANDALIA — Vandalians are used to the roar of jet engines – being situated next to Dayton International Airport means they hear it every day.
But there’s something different, something exciting, about the roars of multiple jets in the days leading up to the Vectren Dayton Air Show.
That moment came Thursday afternoon as the United States Air Force Thunderbirds screamed into town in their signature red, white, and blue F-16 fighter jets.
During the media interviews following the squadron’s practice runs and arrival, our group was assigned to Thunderbird number two.
“When I was a small kid I saw the Thunderbirds perform and I saw the planes at a small Air Force base,” said Major Joshua Boudreaux, pilot of the squadron’s number two jet. “I got my driver license at 16 and started flying right after that.”
Boudreaux graduated in 2003 from the U.S. Air Force Academy where he wrestled collegiately and was a competition glider pilot. Prior to joining the Thunderbirds, Major Boudreaux was an F-16 instructor pilot and flight commander for the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
Boudreaux also flew combat missions in Afghanistan and expressed his appreciation for the F-16 jet.
“I’ve fired its guns, dropped bombs, and it’s a spectacular aircraft,” he said.
The Air Force’s official flight demonstration team was created in 1953 as the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The unit adopted the name “Thunderbirds,” influenced in part by the strong Native American culture and folklore from the southwestern United States where Luke Air Force Base is located.
The team has flown the F-16 since 1983.
The Thunderbirds will cap off both days of the Vectren Dayton Air Show Saturday and Sunday at the Dayton International Airport. Gates open each day at 9 a.m. with the show running from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information and tickets are available at www.DaytonAirShow.com.