Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
FREE Admission & Parking

Enlisted Thunderbirds: Precision on the Ground

Since 1953, the precise work of enlisted Thunderbirds has provided the solid foundation for the air demonstration squadron’s excellence in the sky. Over one hundred enlisted Airmen representing nearly thirty career fields serve as Thunderbirds each year. Their hard work enables the team to operate as a well-oiled machine while on the road for more than two hundred days per year. Like their officer counterparts, they represent the Air Force and inspire future generations of Airmen.

Competiton is stiff for those who wish to become a Thunderbird—only the best from their respective fields are chosen. Once selected, they must earn their place on the team through a period of intense study, self-discipline, and attention to detail culminating in a series of tests. Only those who pass each test earn their patch and the right to be called a Thunderbird.

Each jet is assigned a dedicated crew chief and assistant crew chief who ensure it’s always mission ready. In addition to maintenance, crew chiefs and maintenance specialists participate on the “showline,” executing a routine of choreographed movements in front of an audience as they inspect aircraft and communicate with the pilots to kick off an air show. Behind the scenes, operations and support personnel perform other needed functions like administration and equipment management. The show wouldn’t go on without the many contributions of enlisted, much like any other squadron in the Air Force.   

Enlisted Thunderbirds take great pride in performing their craft with excellence, and in representing their fellow Airmen.

Click here to return to the Enlisted Force Exhibit