Air Force Thunderbirds will soar over Oahu this weekend

Major Tyrone Douglas
Major Tyrone Douglas
Crew Chief Matthew Inman
Crew Chief Matthew Inman

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The sound of soaring supersonic jets filled the air over Oahu on Wednesday.  The world renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds made their grand entrance into the islands.

These birds fly at lightning speed.  They just arrived and took a test run over the island.  The team was preparing for its performance this Saturday and Sunday at  Hickam Air Force Base.  The show starts at 2:30 PM on both days.  More than a 100,000 people are expected to flock to this exhibit of spectacular swirling stunts.

These precision performing pilots will be the highlight of Hickam's first open house in six years.

The Thunderbirds are named after an Indian legend that speaks of an eagle or hawk so great, the earth trembled from the thunder of its wings.  And Hawaii got a small taste of this awesome force of excellence Wednesday.

"Becoming a fighter pilot was a dream come for me. I never thought about being on the Thunderbirds but it's a great opportunity and a chance for me to show off America's Air Force and I jumped at the chance," said Thunderbird pilot Major Tyrone Douglas.

Hickam Air Force Base will be the first stop in a six week world tour for the Thunderbirds.

This elite group of advanced U.S. Air Force fighter pilots takes pride in what they do. The Thunderbirds perform with extreme precision. When flying in formation each aircraft can fly as close as 18 inches from each other.

"It's going quick, it's fast. Some of these aircraft will be sneaky. You'll hear them go right by you but you won't even see them kind of stuff," said Crew Chief Matthew Inman.

The F-16's can go up to 1500 miles per hour, or Mach 2. The Air Force says that is twice the speed of sound.  But for this weekend, the Thunderbirds will stay below 650 miles per hour.

"Because we don't want to go the speed of sound," said Douglas.  "If we go the speed of sound, we'll break a lot of windows and ear drums start to hurt, so we try to keep it under the speed of sound."