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Get to know the Thunderbirds

Mission: The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, "Thunderbirds," perform precision aerial maneuvers to exhibit the capabilities of modern high-performance aircraft to people throughout the world. The squadron exhibits the professional qualities of Air Force people who fly, maintain and support these aircraft.

The squadron objectives are:

  • To support U.S. Air Force recruiting and retention
  • To reinforce public confidence in the Air Force and demonstrate to the public the professional competence of Air Force personnel
  • To strengthen morale and esprit de corps among Air Force personnel
  • To support Air Force community relations and people-to-people programs
  • To represent the United States and its armed forces to foreign nations and project international goodwill

Lt. Col. Mike Chandler is in his second season, flies the No. 1 jet, leading all air demonstrations and is in charge of the 130-person squadron.

Colonel Chandler, a Cedar Falls, Iowa native, entered the Air Force in 1986 from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree. Before his assignment to the team, Colonel Chandler was a student at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He has logged more than 3,800 hours as an Air Force pilot, with more than 3,400 hours in the A/OA-10, F-15C/D, and F-16C/D.


Maj. Rusty Keen hails from Ledbetter, Texas. He entered the Air Force in 1994 from the Southwest Texas State University Reserve Officer Training Corps with a Master of Science degree in industrial engineering technology.

Major Keen is in his first season flying the No. 2 jet as the left wingman in the Diamond Formation. Before joining the team, Major Keen served as a flight commander, instructor pilot and flight examiner, 435th Fighter Training Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga.


Maj. Brian Burns entered the Air Force in 1993 upon graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in social sciences. In his second season with the team, Major Burns flies the No. 3 jet as the right wingman in the Diamond Formation. He has flown more than 2,000 hours in fighter and trainer aircraft, with more than 1,700 hours in the F-16C/D. Before his assignment to the team, Major Burns was an F-16 flight examiner and instructor with the 56th Operations Group, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.


Maj. Steve Horton is in his first season flying the No. 4 jet as the slot pilot in the Diamond Formation. He has flown more than 1,600 hours in trainer and fighter aircraft, with more than 1,300 hours in the F-16C/D. He joined the Air Force in 1993 upon graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in military history. Before joining the team, Major Horton served as an instructor pilot and flight examiner for the F-16C Formal Training Unit, 56th Operations Group, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.


Maj. Scottie Zamzow is in his second season on the team, flies the No. 5 jet as the lead solo pilot. Major Zamzow entered the Air Force in 1994 upon graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering mechanics. Before his assignment to the team, he served as a T-38 flight commander, instructor pilot and flight examiner with the 90th Flying Training Squadron, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. He has logged more than 2,500 hours as an Air Force pilot, with more than 1,500 hours in the F-15E and F-16C/D.


Maj. Brian Farrar flies the No. 6 jet as the opposing solo pilot in his first season on the team. Major Farrar is a Virginia Beach, Va., native, graduated from the Virginia Military Institute with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and entered the Air Force in 1994. Prior to joining the Thunderbirds, he was an F-15C instructor pilot and flight examiner in the 366th Fighter Wing, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Major Farrar has flown more than 1,600 hours in trainer and fighter aircraft with more than 1,300 hours in the F-15C/D and F-16C/D.

 

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