SOURCE: News release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway
INDIANAPOLIS – The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform the pre-race flyover for the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, Aug. 23 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Pre-race coverage for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” starts at 1 p.m. (ET) on NBC, with the green flag scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
“America’s Ambassadors in Blue” – officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron – will fly in their signature “Delta” formation over IMS in an impressive display of their skill and their precision.
“It’s a great privilege for IMS to welcome the United States Air Force Thunderbirds for the pre-race flyover for the 104th Indianapolis 500,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “The race always has paid tribute to the dedicated service and sacrifice of men and women of America’s Armed Forces and is a celebration of patriotic pride, and the precision and skill of these elite Thunderbirds pilots will be appreciated by the worldwide television audience and also by the residents of Indianapolis and Central Indiana as they look to the skies.”
The Thunderbirds feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft. Assigned to Air Combat Command, the squadron is composed of 12 officers and more than 120 enlisted personnel serving in nearly 30 Air Force job specialties. The Thunderbirds typically perform hour-long aerial demonstrations at air shows across the United States from March to November but most of their performances are canceled this year due to the coronavirus. In lieu of air shows, the team collaborated with the United States Navy Blue Angels to conduct multi-city flyovers as a salute to frontline coronavirus responders in April and May.
“Supporting the Indy 500 is a great honor for the team and Air Force,” said. Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbirds commander and leader. “This spectacular event provides an amazing opportunity to showcase the pride, precision and professionalism of the 693,000 total force Airmen to race fans viewing from around the world.”
Since the unit’s inception in 1953, more than 350 million people in all 50 states and more than 60 countries have witnessed the distinctive red, white and blue jets in thousands of official aerial demonstrations.
The flight demonstration team is made up of Lieutenant Colonel John Caldwell, Thunderbird No. 1, Thunderbird commander and lead pilot; Major Trevor Aldridge, Thunderbird No. 2, Left Wing pilot; Major Michael Brewer, Thunderbird No. 3, Right Wing pilot; Major Zane Taylor, Thunderbird No. 4, Slot Pilot; Major Michelle Curran, Thunderbird No. 5, Lead Solo; and Major Kyle Oliver, Thunderbird No. 6, Opposing Solo.