Thunderbirds to Help Celebrate Scott AFB's Centennial in 2017

Scott Air Force Base is celebrating its centennial anniversary in June of 2017 by holding an open-house and air show featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, set for June 10-11, 2017.

This will be the air base's first air show since 2012.

The Thunderbirds are the Air Force's official air demonstration team. Assigned to the 57th Wing, they are based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. They are the third-oldest formal flying aerobatic team in the world, dating from 19553. The only flight demonstration teams older than them are the United States Navy Blue Angels, formed in 1946, and the French Air Force Patrouille de France, formed in 1931.

The squadron name is taken from the legendary creature that appears in the mythologies of several indigenous North American cultures. Since 1983, its pilots have wowed crowds from behind controls of F-16 fighter jets.

In March 2013, the U.S. Air Force announced that due to budget cuts, aerial demonstration team performances would cease indefinitely, effective April 2013. In December 2013, the Thunderbirds announced their 2014 schedule and the resumption of their appearances.

The land today known as Scott AFB was initially leased in June of 1917, and by September of that year, it was officially established as Scott Field. Scott is the fourth-oldest continuously active base in the U.S. Air Force, and the only Air Force base named in honor of an enlisted member, Frank S. Scott.

Scott died in September 1912, becoming the first enlisted member of the U.S. military to lose his life in an aircraft accident. It occurred when, flying as a passenger in a two-seat plane at an Army air field in College Park, Md., the plane crashed upon landing, killing both Scott and the pilot, 1st Lt. Lewis C. Rockwell.

Scott Field originally served as a pilot training field during World War I and was home to a modified Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" aircraft used as an air ambulance. By 1921, the mission at the field changed and Scott became a lighter-than-air station, home of balloons and dirigibles.

By 1937, the lighter-than-air era ended for the entire Army Air Corps and the War Department intended to move the General Headquarters Air Force from Langley Field, Va. to Scott Field.

America's entry into World War II would change that plan. The Army Chief of Staff changed Scott's primary mission in 1939, making it a communications training location. Even after the birth of the U.S. Air Force in 1947, Scott AFB would continue as a communications training installation graduating more than 150,000 communications operators and maintenance personnel by 1959.

By 1964, Scott became responsible for all aeromedical transportation within the U.S, and by 1975, the base was responsible for worldwide patient movement.

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