Sunday, July 02, 2006

Break! Zoom!! Click!!!

What's wrong with this picture?

The United States Air Force’s precision performance flying team, the Thunderbirds start their signature final maneuver, the “starburst” on the command of their flight leader. Flying identical F-16’s, Saturday afternoon over Kirtland Air Base, Lead Pilot Lt. Col. Kevin J. Robbins in the number one airplane barks, “Break!”

Pilot of the number three right-wing position, Maj. Nicole Malachowski, raises the left wing to start her move to the right. Maj. Scottie Zamzow, pilot of number two left-wing position, is a split-second late breaking to his left. If it weren’t for the high-speed nature of this photograph, the faux-pa was otherwise imperceptible.

Flying in the number four slot position below and behind the lead in the diamond formation is Maj. Steve Horton. He is followed by Lead Solo Pilot Maj. Brian Farrar in number five. Farrar spends so much time upside down during the show that the number five is inverted on the side of his aircraft. Opposing Solo Pilot Maj. Ed Casey in number six followed well behind to spiral upwards through the “starburst.”

Casey is shown here landing.

So what's wrong with this picture?

I have to admit that this is simply flying envy. They also get paid to fly fast! It has to be the ultimate flying “dream job.” I’m sure the recruiting tent did a brisk business.

Since first seeing the Thunderbirds when my dad took us to his Amarillo Air Force Base Headquarters office building in the early 60s, when they were flying F-100 Super Sabres, through the F-4 Phantoms, the T-38A Talons and now the F-16 Fighting Falcon, “electric jets,” they have always put on a jaw-dropping show. WOW!

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