Thunderbirds visit Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
By Staff Sgt. Julie Weckerlein, Air Force News Service
/ Published October 11, 2006
WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Dozens of men, women and children filled the main gallery of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum here Oct. 11 to meet members of the Air Force demonstration team.
The Thunderbirds are in town to participate in the opening and dedication of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14, starting off the Air Force's year-long 60th anniversary commemoration.
In the days leading up to the event, the Thunderbirds are helping to get the word out by meeting with the public. What better place to do that than at a museum that pays homage to air and space, said Maj. Tad Clark, advance pilot and narrator for the team.
"I was here about 30 years ago, when they first opened the museum," he said. "And I remember being really inspired by what I saw here, with all the aircraft and spacecraft."
In the museum's Milestones of Flight gallery, underneath aircraft and spacecraft flown by legendary flyers such as John Glenn and Chuck Yeager, the Thunderbirds signed autographs, posed for photos and answered questions.
They also spoke to the crowd about life as a Thunderbird pilot, the Air Force's upcoming 60th anniversary and the opening of the Air Force Memorial.
"We represent the men and women in uniform, and to have such a prominent display representing the Air Force just across from the Pentagon ... it's such an incredible time to be a part of that," said Maj. David Moreland, maintenance officer for the Thunderbirds.
Lt. Col. Kevin Robbins, Thunderbirds commander and lead pilot, encouraged all those who were at the museum to attend the memorial opening, and said they will recognize the flight formation that inspired the memorial's design.
"The memorial is modeled after our bomb-burst formation," he said. "What's neat though, is that the memorial's three spires can be interpreted to mean different things to different people. I think the spires represent our country, the mission and most of all, the people of the Air Force."