US Air Force Thunderbirds show off their skills ahead of air show

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds showed off their incredible flying skills at the Dayton International Airport, Monday, ahead of this weekend’s Vectren Dayton Airshow.

The Thunderbirds perform a mix of formation flying and solo performances, highlighting the capabilities of their F-16 fighting falcon jets and the people who fly them.

Commander Jason Heard said the airshow will give attendees an up close look at what combat maneuvers look like.

“People are going to be able to see their air force close up and personal,” Heard said.

“We’ll be doing loops, rolls – 500mph – a lot of precision maneuvers so people can see how these F-16s operate.”

Lt Col Kevin Walsh said this airshow especially exciting for him as he’s familiar with the Dayton area.

“I learned how to fly the F-16 right across the way in Springfield, Ohio. So it’s kind of like coming home in little bit of a way, so I’m pumped to be back here,” Walsh said.

Air show organizer Roger Doctor said the Thunderbirds may be the main attraction but there will be a lot of other things going on, this weekend.

“They’re America’s best and we’re delighted to have them here. But we also have things this year that Dayton has never seen before,” Doctor said.

New fighter jets, an all-woman skydiving team, and war re-enactments and demonstrations, are just some of the highlights – as are the Geico Skytypers who create smoke messages.

“These letters are a thousand feet tall. That’s as tall as the empire state building,” Doctor said.

He said they’ll be Interactive activities for children and adults – including up-close and personal looks at more than 50 aircraft, on the ground and in the air.

He said: “We’re going to have four and a half hours of things in the air flying and I can’t wait. I can’t wait for the weekend to get here.”

And the Thunderbirds, of course, will give spectators an impressive display.

“It’ll be a lot of noise, a lot of fast-paced action,” Walsh said.

“There’s not just military acts at this year’s airshow, though – good civilian acts, as well. So it’s going to be fun for the whole family.”

Advance tickets for general admission are on sale at area Kroger stores and at the U.S. Air Force Museum for $19 (adults) and $14 (children).

You can also buy them online at the airshow’s website. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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