Ahead of "Thunder over Dover," a Day With the Thunderbirds - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Ahead of "Thunder over Dover," a Day With the Thunderbirds

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DOVER, Del. - Ahead of the Thunder Over Dover Air Show, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds showed WBOC what it takes to be a fighter pilot.

WBOC's Sussex County Bureau Chief Madeleine Overturf was briefed for hours ahead of the 53 minute flight. First, pilot Lt. Col Kevin Walsh showed her the equipment she'd see in the cockpit and then what maneuvers they would complete in the air. Secondly, flight surgeon Dr. Glen Goncharow taught Madeleine breathing techniques to help combat the G forces fighter pilots experience. Lastly, Master Seargant Paul Rosales fitted Madeleine with her flight suit, G-suit, helmet and harness, and then taught her ejection techniques in case of an emergency. It was a full day before takeoff even happened. The Thunderbirds team stressed how excited they were to be in the first state.

"It's really significant," says Walsh. "It's the 75th anniversary of the Dover Air Force Base, the 300th anniversary of town of Dover and obviously we're celebrating the 70th anniversary for the Air Force so, really special event. It's going to be a great air show."

During Madeleine's flight, she and Lt. Col Walsh did a number of maneuvers and moves that will be on display at the air show, such as loops, 360 degree turns, and creating a corkscrew of smoke in the sky. They pulled 9.2 g's-- roughly nine times normal gravity / a stress that creates nine times a person's body weight. At the end of the flight, Madeleine received a signed framed picture of the Thunderbirds and a certificate marking her experience. 

The Thunderbids are just one of many military and civilian acts that will be on display at the air show, which takes place all weekend. Gates open at nine both days, with opening ceremonies starting at 10 a.m. The event is free. Walsh says it's a unique opportunity for those in the community to come on base.

"They deserve to know what their military is providing and what kind of people are serving in it as well so we're happy to be here this weekend," he tells WBOC.

Performing in air shows like Dover's is just one of the many things the Thunderbirds do in the Air Force.

"Obviously we try and bridge the gap between the civilians and their military to give them some exposure as to how it operates and what we do," Walsh explains. "But we also do a lot of outreach with the community as far as hospital visits, high school visits, grade school visits to really connect with the public the best we can."

For a full "Thunder Over Dover" schedule, click here.

 

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