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Sun, Jun 12, 2005

Thunderbirds Fly Five

Former Pilot Returns

The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, announced this week they will continue to fly a five-ship demonstration at air shows around the country until a newly assigned right wing pilot completes training required for the position.

The team normally flies a six-ship demonstration and has been without their right wing pilot since May 7th when then right wing Maj. Brian Burns identified a medical condition that was impacting his ability to perform as a demonstration team pilot. He has since been cleared for flight, but because of the unique and demanding requirements of flying close formation during aerial shows, Air Force leadership made the difficult decision to reassign Major Burns.

"Major Burns is a superb aviator, outstanding officer and will continue to serve our Air Force with distinction," said Lt. Col. Mike Chandler, Thunderbird commander.

Maj. Chris Callaghan, right wing for the 2002-2003 Thunderbirds has returned to the team to complete the season. He was flying the F-15C in Elmendorf AFB, Alaska before returning to the team.

"We welcome Major Callaghan back to the Thunderbird team and look forward to showcasing Air Force airpower and precision flying across the country with minimal disruptions to our air show schedule," said Colonel Chandler.

Safety of pilots, enlisted crews and the viewing public is the top concern for the Air Force and the Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds will continue to fly a five-ship demonstration until Major Callaghan completes training required to fly the right wing demonstration position.

The right wing pilot flys in the diamond formation during the demonstration and is responsible for scheduling and assisting the operations officer.

FMI: www.airforce.com

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