The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, as the Thunderbirds are formally known, will appear at the Air Power Over Hampton Roads show at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia on May 19 and 20, according to a release Monday.
“The Thunderbirds look forward to safely resuming public shows at Air Power Over Hampton Roads,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, the Thunderbirds commander and lead pilot. “It’s been challenging to get us to this point, but the team is resilient, focused and ready to get back to our mission of recruiting, retaining and inspiring.”
The Thunderbirds have not performed since Maj. Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno died in an F-16 crash April 4 at the Nevada Test and Training Range. Del Bagno, of Valencia, California, was an experienced F-35A pilot in his first season with the Thunderbirds, and flew its No. 4 jet as slot pilot.
His death was the first fatal mishap suffered by the Thunderbirds in 36 years, and the community mourned his death as they prepared to eventually resume performing.
A former Thunderbird pilot, Maj. Nick “Khan” Krajicek returned to the squadron to succeed Del Bagno as slot pilot, the Thunderbirds announced April 26.
Six performances were canceled following Del Bagno’s death, as the team recovered and then trained with Krajicek.
The Thunderbirds will travel to Langley-Eustis earlier in the week for more practice time.
“We are extremely grateful for the support, faith and confidence of our senior Air Force leadership as we prepare to showcase our United States Air Force to the public once more,” Walsh said. “As we hit the road, we’ll carry on our wingman’s legacy with pride.”
The remainder of the Thunderbirds season follows:
May 19-20: Air Power Over Hampton Roads at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.
May 23: Air Force Academy, Colorado.
May 26-27: Cannon Air Force Base Air Show, Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.
June 2-3: Gunfighter Skies 2018 Air Show, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.
June 9-10: Thunder Over Niagara, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York.
June 16-17: OC Air Show, Ocean City, Maryland.
June 23-24: The Utah Air Show, Hill Air Force Base , Utah.
June 30-1 July: Arctic Thunder Air Show, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
July 7-8: Duluth Air and Aviation Expo, Duluth, Minnesota.
July 14-15: The Great New England Air Show, Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts.
July 21-22: Milwaukee Air & Water Show, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
July 25: Frontier Days Air Show, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
July 28-29: Westmoreland County Air Show, Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
August 4: Minot Air Force Base Air Show, Minot Air Force Base , North Dakota.
August 18-19: 60th Chicago Air & Water Show, Chicago, Illinois.
August 22: Thunder over the Boardwalk, Atlantic City, New Jersey.
August 25-26: Thunder Over Michigan Air Show, Ypsilanti, Michigan.
September 1-3: Canadian International Air Show, Toronto, Canada.
September 8-9: McConnell Air Force Base Open House, McConnell Air Force Base , Kansas.
September 15-16: New York Air Show, New Windsor, New York.
September 22-23: California Capital Air Show, Mather, California.
September 29-30: California International Airshow, Salinas, California.
October 6-7: Maryland Fleet Week and Air Show, Baltimore, Maryland.
October 13-14: Fort Worth Alliance Air Show, Fort Worth, Texas.
October 20-21: Breitling Huntington Beach Air Show, Huntington Beach, California.
October 27-28: Thunder Over the Rock, Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.
November 3-4: Florida, Wings Over Homestead, Homestead Air Reserve Base.