Air Force Thunderbirds Have Extra Visit to Colorado Springs Planned

Colorado Springs will get to see the Air Force Thunderbirds three times over the next two years.

According to a schedule released by the flying team, the F-16s are set to flash over Air Force Academy graduation on June 2, concluding a ceremony that's likely to include a speech from President Barack Obama. They'll be back on June 1, 2017, for another graduation and have a two-day show in Colorado Springs in late September of that year for the Pikes Peak Regional Air Show.

"The Thunderbirds, whenever they are making an appearance, it is such a heart and soul experience for all of us," said air show spokesman John Henry.

The 2017 show coincides with the Air Force's 70th birthday -- a big deal in a region with four Air Force installations.

"We're over the top," Henry said.

The Thunderbirds have been a staple at academy graduations for decades, missing just one year in recent times due to Defense Department budget cuts that grounded the team. The single-engine jets make their first pass at graduation with carefully orchestrated timing so the planes appear just as graduating cadets toss their uniform caps skyward.

But getting a second show like Colorado Springs will have in 2017 is a rarity.

"This is going be the icing on a spectacular air show," Henry said.

The advanced notice of the visit comes after the Thunderbirds moved to a two-year schedule for future shows.

During the September 2017 show, the Thunderbirds will be joined by a flock of classic warplanes. Henry said a prime contributor to show is the National Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs.

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