By Jenny Paulson – Be prepared to hear jet engines roar and watch a show in the skies of Pueblo on Saturday, April 18th, when United States Airforce Thunderbirds will demonstrate their acrobatic skills in honor of Colorado Springs graduates and Covis-19 front line workers.
Typically the team of United States Air Force Thunderbirds flies over graduation ceremonies in Colorado Springs, at the exact time cadets throw their hats in the air, but this year officials decided to make the event special for Coloradans, by flying over Pueblo, Greeley, Windsor, Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, Boulder, the Denver metropolitan area, Denver International Airport, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado Springs and Fort Carson.
The USAF in-person ceremony will begin at 11 am this year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Cadets will march and sit eight feet from each other to abide by social distancing guidelines, throwing their hats in the air as usual, as Thunderbird jets fly over their stadium as they traditionally have for years. The commencement address will come from Vice President Mike Pence, visiting Colorado Springs in person.
According to a Facebook post, “The Class of 2020 will definitely have a historic graduation. It’ll be the first class to graduate in April, the first to graduate on a Saturday, and the first to graduate on the terrazzo (weather permitting — Colorado is fickle). Not to mention the first class to commission officers into the United States Space Force!”
The flyover demonstrations in various communities will start at about 12:50 pm, with pilots flying jets throughout Front Range communities to “honor health care workers, first responders, military members and other essential personnel who are working on the front lines to combat the coronavirus,” Thunderbirds commander, Lt. Col. John Caldwell reported in a press release.
“Our team is honored to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the countless Coloradans working every day to support their communities during this difficult time,” said Caldwell. “We want Coloradans to look up from their homes and enjoy the display of American resolve and pride while keeping frontline responders in their hearts.”
A little history: The USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, is the air demonstration squadron of the United States Air Force. Created in 1953, the Thunderbirds are one of the oldest formal flying aerobatic team in the world.
The Thunderbirds squadron tours the United States and much of the world, performing aerobatic formation and solo flying in specially marked aircraft. The squadron’s name is taken from the legendary creature that appears in the mythologies of several indigenous North American cultures.
Photo courtesy USAF.
Story compiled by Jenny Paulson / Independent Journalist