Media takes flight during Thunder Over Dover Family Day

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Aaron J. Jenne
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds invited Andrew Jackson, a local radio host for 88.7 The Bridge, to fly with them during the Thunder Over Dover Open House today, here.

The Thunderbirds arrived Thursday to orient themselves with the landscape and airspace, and to meet with installation members and media.

Jackson arrived at the 436th Operations Squadron’s aircrew flight equipment work center eagerly awaiting his upcoming flight. After several briefings, donning a flight suit and being fitted for equipment, he finally met his pilot, Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, Thunderbirds operations officer.

A few minutes later, they walked out to the No. 7 jet, an F-16 Fighting Falcon, climbed in and after pre-flight inspections, taxied to the end of the runway to take off in a nearly vertical climb.

During the flight, Walsh flew Jackson through every maneuver the Thunderbirds will fly during their performances scheduled for the Saturday and Sunday show. The most demanding of which created more than 9 times the force of earth’s gravity on the pilot and his passenger in the aircraft. This banking maneuver requires specific equipment, body position and breathing techniques to avoid passing out.

“I showed you every single maneuver that we’re going to do this Saturday and Sunday,” Walsh said to Jackson. “We wanted to give you a good time and show you exactly how our team operates. We flew between 3,200 feet and 18,000 feet, and we hit between -2 and +9 G’s.”

Jackson, an aspiring pilot, was enthused by the opportunity to meet the Thunderbirds and fly in an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

“Thank you so much for the experience,” Jackson said to Walsh. “We look forward to seeing your demonstrations tomorrow and on Sunday as well. I’m sure the people of Dover and everyone that comes here is going to be blown away.”

The events will continue Saturday and Sunday, and Delmarva residents are invited to attend Team Dover’s free open house, according to Lt. Col. Ryan Orfe, Thunder Over Dover Open House director. In addition to a full day of aerial demonstrations, more than thirty static displays and great entertainment, attendees will get a unique, behind-the-scenes look of Dover AFB.

“The weather looks like it’s going to be excellent – low 80’s to high 70’s with sunshine, Orfe said. “If you’re looking to find a good way to spend that last summer weekend, come down to Dover and enjoy it with us.”