Thunderbirds to join Blue Angels at El Centro for exercise

Feb 24, 2021
Blue Angels and Thunderbirds America Strong flyover. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Aaron Hicks/Released

USAF Thunderbirds just announced the joint exercise with US NAVY BLue Angels at NAF El Centro. The #8 Thunderbird already arrived:

We’re excited to announce our upcoming information exchange with the  U.S. Navy Blue Angels onboard Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro from February 24-March 3.

Both teams are in the middle of their winter training cycles and will not conduct performances; however, training flights with similar profiles to the air show routine will be conducted in accordance with annual training objectives.

“We are thrilled to once again host the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at our winter training facility for an invaluable information exchange” said Cmdr. Brian Kesselring, Blue Angels commanding officer and flight leader. “Each opportunity the teams have to work together, is an opportunity to share experiences and best practices between our two service branches."

The last time the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds performed together at an air show was at the Joint Base Andrews Air and Space Expo. May 11-12, 2019. Upon cancellation of air shows in 2020, the two teams came together in a collaborative, multi-city flyover mission called “America Strong” saluting healthcare workers, first responders, military and other essential personnel serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

“Last year’s America Strong joint flyover mission is a testament of how important and valuable joint trainings with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are for our respective teams and the Department of Defense as a whole,” said Lt. Col. John Caldwell, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds commander and leader. “When we are able to share our expertise and operational knowledge about our shared mission, we can better serve the nation. We appreciate the Blue Angels for hosting us again and look forward to enhancing our operations from this joint exchange.”

This year, the Thunderbirds are slated to perform 49 demonstrations at 27 locations and the Blue Angels are scheduled to perform 53 flight demonstrations at 28 locations across the United States and Canada.