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Thunderbirds visit Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Air Force symbol with cradled Thunderbirds shield (color), U.S. Air Force graphic.

U.S. Air Force graphic.

Lt. Col. Kevin Robbins tells a crowd about festivities planned for the week that will involve the Air Force Thunderbirds at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Colonel Robbins is the commander of the Thunderbirds demonstration team and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the dedication of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

Lt. Col. Kevin Robbins tells a crowd about festivities planned for the week that will involve the Air Force Thunderbirds at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Colonel Robbins is the commander of the Thunderbirds demonstration team and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the dedication of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

Maj. Scottie Zamzow sign autographs was at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Major Zamzow is a pilot on the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

Maj. Scottie Zamzow sign autographs was at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Major Zamzow is a pilot on the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

Staff Sgt. Clint Bryant sign autographs was at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Sergeant Bryant is a member of the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

Staff Sgt. Clint Bryant sign autographs was at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Sergeant Bryant is a member of the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

Maj. (Dr.) Dan Mirski signs a Thunderbirds booklet for Bryan Pursley, who is visiting from San Antonio. Major Mirski is the flight surgeon for the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

Maj. (Dr.) Dan Mirski signs a Thunderbirds booklet for Bryan Pursley, who is visiting from San Antonio. Major Mirski is the flight surgeon for the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

Megan Pursley from San Antonio poses with Capt. Todd Randolph at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Captain Randolph is the Thunderbirds executive officer, and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

Megan Pursley from San Antonio poses with Capt. Todd Randolph at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Captain Randolph is the Thunderbirds executive officer, and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

Maj. Jeremy Sloane signs a poster for a fan at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Major Sloane is the Thunderbirds operations officer and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

Maj. Jeremy Sloane signs a poster for a fan at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Major Sloane is the Thunderbirds operations officer and was at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

The Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team was at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Team members signed autugraphs and were at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

The Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team was at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Team members signed autugraphs and were at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

The Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team was at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Team members signed autugraphs and were at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

The Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team was at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Team members signed autugraphs and were at the Smithsonian as part of a week-long series of events that will culminate with the opening of the Air Force Memorial Oct. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Gary R. Coppage)

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."

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