The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Gilmary M. Hostage III, has officially selected the officers who will be joining the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds for the 2013 demonstration season.
The United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds retains 12 officer positions, with each serving a two-year tour of duty. In odd-numbered years, Thunderbird Nos. 2, 4, 7, 10, 11, and 12 are replaced.
Capt. Joshua Boudreaux, currently assigned to Aviano Air Base, Italy, will become Thunderbird No. 2, the squadron's left wing pilot. He will fly as close as 18 inches from the wingtip of the No. 1 jet during air shows, demonstrating the teamwork and precision of America's Air Force. Boudreaux will replace Capt. Ryan Riley.
Maj. Curtis Dougherty, currently assigned to Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C., will become Thunderbird No. 4, slot pilot. Like Boudreax, Dougherty will also fly in close formation with the other demonstration pilots, just inches below the belly of the No. 1 aircraft. Dougherty will replace Capt. Nicholas Holmes.
Capt. Jason Curtis, currently stationed at Luke AFB, Ariz., will become Thunderbird No. 6, the team's opposing solo pilot. The solo pilots perform maneuvers that specifically showcase the extraordinary capabilities of the F-16. Capt. Blaine Jones, the current opposing solo pilot, will transition to the lead solo position in 2013, replacing Maj. J.R. Williams.
Maj. Tyler Ellison, currently stationed at Langley AFB, Va., will become Thunderbird No. 7, the team's operations officer. His duties will include air space coordination, ground communication with the pilots in the air and safety observation. Ellison will replace Lt. Col. Jason Koltes.
Capt. Lucas Buckley, currently stationed here at Nellis AFB, will become Thunderbird No. 11, the squadron's maintenance officer. He will be responsible for the operational capability of 11 F-16 fighter jets and the management of more than 50 Airmen in various aircraft maintenance specialties. Buckley will replace Maj. Jason Moore.
Maj. Darrick Lee, currently stationed at Misawa AB, Japan, will become Thunderbird No. 12, the squadron's public affairs officer. He will assume the team's extensive media relations, community relations and public relations programs. Lee will replace Maj. Kristin Haley.
For the position of Thunderbird No. 10, executive officer, the hiring process is delayed, pending the interview with a finalist currently deployed. Selection for that position is expected before August 2012.