Female F-16 fighter pilot is newest addition to Thunderbirds

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on March 17, 2011 at 8:24 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 17 at 1:25 PM

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LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – The popular Luke Days event is going on this weekend.

Bruce Haffner talked to Capt. Kristin Hubbard, a 62nd Fighter Squadron instructor pilot and the newest member of the Thunderbirds, which is the Air Force’s F-16 aerial demonstration team.

Hubbard is Thunderbird #8, which means she is the advance pilot and narrator.

“As the advance pilot, I'm the first person to show up at a location, the first to meet the media and the first person to meet kids and talk to them about what I do,” Hubbard said in a news release.

"The question that always came up was why I wanted to be a Thunderbird. I want to showcase the Air Force. I want to be part of an awesome team that represents our Air Force, seven days a week, in or out of uniform.”

The Thunderbirds, also known as “America’s Ambassadors in Blue,” have performed hundreds of demonstrations for millions of people all over the world. They are known for their impressive formations and maneuvers, some of which require the pilots to fly within a mere 18 inches of each other.

“It takes about 3 ½ months of training to bring all those airplanes together,” Hubbard said. “It’s impressive. Some of the maneuvers you see are graceful, some of them are just muscle, fast and loud. This weekend is going to be great.”

Hubbard compared flying that close to other planes to driving in a NASCAR race, “but a little bit faster and a little bit closer.”

You can see the Thunderbirds fly at this weekend’s free Luke Days event at Luke Air Force base. The open house and air show is Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

In addition to the Thunderbirds, the USA Golden Knights, the ACC F-22 Demo, the ACC Heritage F-4 and the USMC AV-8 are among the scheduled performances.

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