The Air Force Thunderbirds' precision aerial maneuvers will once again be on display in 66 shows planned for 2014. (Senior Airman DeAndre Curtiss/Air Force)
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After the Rose Bowl Parade flyover, here’s where you can expect to see the Thunderbirds:
|Feb. 23||Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.|
|March 9||Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas|
|March 15-16||Luke AFB, Ariz.|
|March 22-23||MacDill AFB, Fla.|
|March 29-30||Punta Gorda, Fla.|
|April 5-6||Columbus AFB, Miss.|
|April 12-13||Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.|
|April 26-27||Barksdale AFB, La.|
|May 3-4||Travis AFB, Calif.|
|May 10-11||Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.|
|May 17-18||Youngstown Air Reserve Base, Ohio|
|May 24-25||Cannon AFB, N.M.|
|May 28||Air Force Academy, Colo.|
|May 31 - June 1||Fairchild AFB, Wash.|
|June 7-8||Rockford, Ill.|
|June 14-15||Ocean City, Md.|
|June 21-22||Tinker AFB, Okla.|
|June 28-29||Hill AFB, Utah|
|July 5-6||Battle Creek, Mich.|
|July 12-13||Fair Oaks, Ind.|
|July 15||Target Field, Minneapolis|
|July 23||Cheyenne, Wyo.|
|July 26-27||Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska|
|Aug. 2-3||Oshkosh, Wis.|
|Aug. 9-10||Ypsilanti, Mich.|
|Aug. 13||Atlantic City, N.J.|
|Aug. 16-17||Rochester, N.Y.|
|Aug. 23-24||Waterloo, Iowa|
|Aug. 30-31||Kalispell, Mont.|
|Sep. 13-14||Altus AFB, Okla.|
|Sep. 20-21||Mountain Home AFB, Idaho|
|Sep. 27-28||Salinas, Calif.|
|Oct. 4-5||Melbourne, Fla.|
|Oct. 11-12||Daytona Beach, Fla.|
|Oct. 18-19||Rome, Ga.|
|Oct. 25-26||Fort Worth, Texas|
|Nov. 1-2||Santa Teresa, N.M.|
|Nov. 8-9||Nellis AFB, Nev.|
The Thunderbirds, grounded last spring by sequester-driven budget cuts, will be back in the air in 2014. The Thunderbirds schedule will begin New Year’s Day with a flyover at the Rose Bowl Parade in Los Angeles, followed by a year of airshows and flyovers across the country.
In December, the team announced a schedule of 66 demonstrations at 34 locations this year, its 61st season.
“We’re really excited. It  was a difficult year for us,” said Lt. Col. Greg Moseley, lead captain and commander of the team. “Not just us, for the entire Department of Defense and the Air Force.”
Budget cuts in April forced the service to ground 13 combat squadrons for four months, halting training missions and delaying the readiness of much of the service’s combat forces. The Thunderbirds were also caught in the grounding and became a much-talked-about focus of the budget cuts. The pilots took their time to do community outreach and take their story online, defending their mission of recruitment and serving as the public face of the Air Force.
Some said that the Thunderbird mission was expendable, that its public outreach is a luxury that could be put on hold until there is more funding.
But for Moseley and his crews, their mission was important, and they were itching to get back into the air.
“This is a great opportunity to reinforce the trust and confidence that the American people and the military have,” Moseley said.
In 2014, the Air Force still must cut back its outreach budget, being able to spend up to $47 million on all programs compared to the approximate $101 million budget it had pre-sequester. About $34 million will go to the Thunderbirds.
When fiscal 2014 began in October, the Thunderbirds started up Moseley’s “crawl, walk, run” model of training — beginning with basic flying skills and maneuvers. Eventually, two aircraft began flying together. Then three. In early December, the full four-ship formation began training together.
Now, they are flying twice a day to be ready to go on the road.
“Everybody from the youngest airman to myself is very, very excited to get back into the battle rhythm,” Moseley said. “All the pilots and maintainers are excited.”