Thunderbirds ready to roar
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent July 3, 2012 4:03PM
Two United States Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation over Jamestown, R.I., The Thunderbirds are scheduled to be the headline performers during the Gary South Shore Air Show July 6-8, 2012. | Archive~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 6, 2012 6:18AM
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will again headline the Gary South Shore Air Show, making their seventh appearance at the show, which is in its 13th year.
The Thunderbirds appear every other year, one of a handful of repeating acts, said Speros Batistatos, president and chief executive officer of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, which puts on the Air Show.
“We have some perennial favorites and crowd pleasers,” Batistatos said.
The Thunderbirds, based at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, headline wherever they go, said Tech. Sgt. Jake Richmond, who handles public affairs for the team and will make his first appearance at the Gary show this year.
“We are one of only two active duty U.S. military teams,” he said, adding Gary’s show provides a built-in audience and the capability to make it work. “It’s awesome to come back to Gary as often as we do because we know ahead of time how successful the show will be.”
In fact, Air Show organizers are holding the event a week earlier than in past years because the Thunderbirds are usually off the second full weekend in July, Batistatos said.
The Thunderbirds will not take part in the Twilight Show Friday, but will practice around 3:30 p.m. that day, still offering crowds the chance to see them before twilight events officially begin at 5:30 p.m.
The support and staff for the Gary show, as well as the crowd’s reception, make it a worthwhile trip, Richmond said.
“From the perspective of the other team members, it’s one of the few shows on our schedule that many of our team members are aware of and look forward to going to,” he said.
As is the case with any military team performing at an air show, the Gary show also affords the Thunderbirds the opportunity to do outreach with the community about the Air Force, Richmond said.
“As familiar as the Thunderbirds are with Gary, we also can expect that we’re reaching a large contingent that haven’t seen the Thunderbirds or seen the Gary Air Show before, and that’s why we constantly go there,” he said.